The Russia Card

America was at a historic crossroads in 1971. The war in Vietnam was increasingly seen as unwinnable, while triggering ongoing unrest in cities and college campuses across the nation. The economy was challenged with rising inflation and rising trade deficits. In August 1971, the British ambassador turned up at the Treasury Department to request that $3 billion be converted into gold. That same week, President Nixon ordered a freeze on all prices and wages in the U.S.

In the communist world, America’s problems were trumpeted as the inevitable collapse of capitalist imperialism. Russia and China stood triumphant over a declining West. And what did Nixon do? He stunned the world by traveling to China. His goal, to drive a wedge between the two communist superpowers.

Historians can speculate endlessly over what might have happened if Nixon had never played the China card. But his strategy, to keep China and Russia from getting too close, has more applicability today than it did nearly fifty years ago.

Today Russia and China continue an alliance that has fitfully endured through the decades. In recent years, especially since oil prices have fallen, Russia has supplied China with raw materials and high technology in exchange for desperately needed cash. Even now, China is only beginning to acquire sufficient skill to manufacture high performance jet engines for its military, and still has to rely on Russian aerospace manufacturers to fill the gap.

That China and Russia are both undemocratic nations that […] Read More