Only Trilateralization, Not Triangulation, Is The Solution For Global Stability
The solution is trilateralization between China, Russia, and the US, not triangulation. To explain, this proposal implies that all three Great Powers would be treated as equals by one another and engage in dialogue through a single platform.
The summit in mid-June between Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden led to many observers speculating about America’s grand strategic intentions. The successful outcome led to some claiming that the US intends to repeat its Cold War-era policy of triangulation between itself, China, and Russia, albeit this time attempting to partner with Russia against China instead of the reverse like before. That theory is implausible since the Chinese-Russian Strategic Partnership, embodied in their Treaty of Good-Neighbourliness, Friendship and Cooperation that was just extended by their leaders over the summer during one of their virtual meetings, is unbreakable.
Even in the face of that inevitable strategic defeat, the US apparently still hopes to patch up relations with Russia so that it can redeploy some of its military forces from Central & Eastern Europe to the Asia-Pacific in order to more aggressively attempt to “contain” China. To be clear, the improvement of Russian-American relations would be a welcome development for the whole world, but the US might still try to spoil this by exploiting it in the military way that was just predicted. In other words, the US would still be engaging in trilateralization, though without Russia’s active participation. This, too, is doomed to fail. Nevertheless, it should inspire responsible observers to consider the most effective way to ensure global stability.
The solution is trilateralization between China, Russia, and the US, not triangulation. To explain, this proposal implies that all three Great Powers would be treated as equals by one another and engage in dialogue through a single platform. Bilateral interactions within this triangle can be constructive, but they’ll never completely advance the greater good. That can only be achieved by them working together in a trilateral format. This proposal is difficult to achieve in practice since the US lacks the political will to agree to it. America knows that it would forever ruin its triangulation strategy, which isn’t a bad thing, but it’s not something that the political elite want to have happen.
The reasons for this are several. Apart from the obvious one that was just mentioned, this importantly includes the implication that the US would finally regard itself as just another regular member of the international community instead of the so-called “first among equals” like it presently considers itself. The American political psyche, hyped up by decades’ worth of indoctrination with its exceptionalist ideology, cannot accept such an image even though it’s long-overdue and arguably in its long-term interests. The US’ unipolar hegemony is fading as the world inevitably transitions to multipolarity, so the sooner that it arrives at this conclusion, the better that it’ll be for everyone.
Another point is that there are some issues that are better suited to the bilateral format. These are strategic arms talks with Russia since both it and the US are the world’s leading nuclear powers by far and trade talks between China and America since those two are correspondingly the world’s leading economic powers by far. With this in mind, it might be better to exclude such topics from the proposed trilateral format in order to improve its effectiveness. Considering this suggestion, observers can consequently have a better idea of this platform’s agenda, which should focus on issues of global significance such as climate change, COVID-19, and cybersecurity. That could serve as a pragmatic starting point for trilateral discussions between them.
These challenges cannot be addressed unilaterally or bilaterally. They require close trilateral cooperation between China, Russia, and the US, which can then set the global standard. They’re also apolitical and therefore might not bruise the US’ ego too much if it enters into equal talks with its counterparts. In fact, President Biden has spoken about these issues quite frequently so his administration might be interested in considering this proposal. If successful, then it could help generate more goodwill and trust within this trilateral, potentially paving the way for it to expand its scope to other topics such as pioneering general agreements for responsibly regulating the US’ competition with China and Russia in the interests of the global good.
That might still be far into the future, but it shouldn’t stop China and Russia from discussing the trilateral platform proposal among themselves prior to jointly unveiling it whenever they feel that the time is right. Even if the US doesn’t agree to participate, those two Great Powers would still be sending a powerful message to the rest of the world about their peaceful intentions. This is important in order to counteract American propaganda that China and Russia are the ones pushing the world towards a so-called New Cold War. In reality, it’s the US that’s doing this, but some across the world are still confused about who’s responsible. For this reason, China and Russia should consider publicly proposing trilateralization with the US to replace triangulation.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Voice of East.