“That’s a world war when Americans and Russia start shooting at one another,” U.S. President Joe Biden said in a recent interview, warning of what the Americans see as a looming Russian invasion of Ukraine and their subsequent response. Meanwhile, in Beijing – against the backdrop of the Winter Olympics – a “no limits” partnership between Russia and China was announced against the United States and the West. But despite the warnings and the tense atmosphere, I do not believe we are on the brink of a new world war. No one needs it.
In a joint statement, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping raised the possibility of a military alliance between the two countries in light of tensions with Ukraine. But behind the high-profile meeting between the two heads of state there is actually a simple and quiet story of conquest that goes beyond political declarations.
China conquers Russia without much resistance or struggle. The Russians sell the Chinese a third of the country up to the Ural Mountains. It goes without saying that masses of Chinese immigrate to Russia, work and settle there, and engage in the mining of coal and silver, iron and gold.
Since the Russians have no other choice, they let them. Today’s Russia is a region plagued by volatile trouble spots. They cannot fight back and get into a dispute with the Chinese because they know it would put them in a disadvantageous position vis-à-vis Europe and the United States.
The united front between China and Russia is entirely artificial. It was imposed on the peoples from above by the communist regime. The peoples themselves, the Russians and the Chinese, are different in character and mentality so it is very difficult for them to get along. They do not trust each other for a second.
Therefore, one should not assume that there is a profound friendship behind the quasi-alliance between Russia and China. In any case, neither of them has a serious interest in going to war against the United States and its allies. In general, fewer countries are eager to fight today. The lack of enthusiasm for wars is part of a larger process that the world is going through. There may be small wars here and there, but they will look more like squabbles between children in a sandbox.
In the meantime, the tensions between the powers give the world time and space to digest and get used to a new idea that is germinating within it: The future stability of the world is possible only in the connection between all people. It is the force of nature that will implant this sublime thought in humanity out of necessity for survival, and it will also teach us how to achieve such a state of cohesion because we have no better option. We will need to overcome the evil instinct that is inherent in us from birth, the ego that incites us to attempt to dominate others, and the negative force that since its beginnings has made the life of human society look like one long war with short intervals to reload ammunition.
In its patient way, the force of nature will show us how to subdue the evil inclination within us and control it through a united human front for a more promising future. As our sages rightly wrote, “the prime defense against calamity is love and unity” (Maor VaShemesh).
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