The recent agreement between Russia and Saudi Arabia to cut oil production is reported by the US media only as it affects American shale production and the price of various grades of oil on the global market, overlooking an important signal: When the country that for nearly a century has been the principle source of US oil investments joins a system that openly challenges American hegemony, Washington will inevitably gravitate toward that system.
Since the turn of the century, Russia and China have been building a multi-polar world in which the leaders of each geographic area of the globe would share responsibility for the advancement and safety of all. Seeking to deflect interest in this notion by its allies, Washington refers to it derogatorily as ‘a return to the nineteenth century notion of spheres of influence or so-called balance-of-power politics’. In fact, the real problem is that a multi-polar world challenges American hegemony, modestly expressed as being ‘the indispensable nation’. The sight of Saudi’s de facto ruler, the young and impetuous MBS, hobnobbing with Vladimir Putin challenges that notion as no amount of military hardware or money can. It can only become acceptable to a US that is a member of that club.
A recent book intended to confirm the Western view of President Putin as an unacceptable partner actually describes a man most people would love to have as their leader. In doing so, it reveals why the Russian President is invariably seen greeting other leaders with a shy smile, offering bouquets to their wives: he was trained by the KGB to ‘work with people’. Although President Trump also likes working with people, the ‘Deep State’, having painted Russia as an adversary that interfered in the 2016 election, will not allow the creation of a new ‘Big Three’. (During World War II, the term referred to the US, Great Britain and the Soviet Union, with Roosevelt and Churchill sharing the spotlight with ‘Uncle Joe’ Stalin.)
The multi-polar world’s signature achievement is the New Silk Road. While the US has persuaded most of Europe to shun it (Italy being the outlier thus far) the emerging Russia-Saudi entente facilitates Riyadh’s access to this web of rails, roads and sea ports that serves a Southeast Asia struggling to resolve domestic conflicts and throw off American military domination. As that region gains easier access to the Holy sites of Mecca and Media, Washington may realize it must re-evaluate the advantages of hegemony versus cooperation and shared decision-making in a multi-polar world, as it struggles with its latest achievement: that of being the country with the largest number of deaths in a world-wide pandemic.
Deena Stryker is a US-born international expert, author and journalist that lived in Eastern and Western Europe and has been writing about the big picture for 50 years. Over the years she penned a number of books, including Russia’s Americans. Her essays can also be found at Otherjones. Especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.