From the moment Russia invaded Ukraine without so much as courtesy nod to President Barack Obama, I waited for the other shoe to drop. And then Monday, the proverbial footwear hit the deck. Far from the firestorm enveloping the suddenly Russian-controlled Crimea, the Chinese foreign ministry signaled the Chicoms’ acceptance of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian blitzkrieg. Just like that, the geopolitical village drunk has teamed up with the geopolitical village psycho. And the man who should theoretically run the town sheriff’s office was too busy defrauding his own constituents to notice.
The Chinese decision to officially overlook Putin’s decision to coldcock Ukraine in broad daylight should come as no surprise to anyone with a better understanding of global politics than the truly benighted among us (looking at you, Secretary of State John “Conflict Resolution Man” Kerry). After all, the Chinese share the same philosophical roots as Putin and the Russians. But the Chinese are vastly more dangerous to America and the free world than Putin likely fancies himself.
By no means do I mean to downplay the threat Putin presents. This is a guy who spent the bulk of his career being spooky for a living. I’ve said it before: He’s a monocle and a pet cat away from being the villain in a James Bond film. But Putin is a bully with a bellyful of liquor. He’s big and bad, but he lacks discipline. He’s Drago from “Rocky IV.” If you can withstand the initial onslaught, you have a shot. And while Putin’s backup is the ursine-esque Russian military, it’s also the ursine-esque Russian military.
Bears are trouble, but only when they’re interested. And a bear who’s spent decades, if not centuries, knocking back potato liquor can be contained.
The Chinese are far less easy to pin down, and that’s precisely how they like it. Like Putin and the Russians, the Chinese regime honestly believes that: a) the world needs to be ruled like a herd of sheep, and b) they’re just the shepherds for the job. Like Putin and the Russians, the Chinese people have never really known actual freedom — at least in the Western sense of true individual liberty. A populace indoctrinated into complacency from birth eliminates a lot of oligarchs’ headaches. But unlike Putin and the Russians, the Chinese work quietly. While Putin clears the bar, the Chinese are cleaning out the cash drawer. While the Russians built more huge stuff, the Chinese bought American debt, real estate and politicians by the truckload. While Putin shakes his fist at us from the Crimea, the Chinese are rubbing their hands together from their sizable real estate holdings right here in the heartland. While Putin challenges us to dueling pistols at noon, the Chinese are sneaking up behind us with a brick.
I am not suggesting any sort of coordinated conspiracy. The Chinese are doubtless willing to let Putin dance the lead while they hide in the shadows backstage. Think about it. Anyone who regularly visits the pages of Personal Liberty Digest™ knows who Putin is. Heck, even the loafers who flip to MSNBC after Jerry Springer finishes his “final thought” recognize the name — even if they think he’s the assistant greenkeeper at their country club. But the Chinese leadership is nowhere near as well-known. In fact, the last Chinese capo di tutti capi whose name was instantly recognizable to the American man on the street was probably Deng Xiaoping; and his last major act involved running people over with tanks.
The gross incompetence of the Obama Administration is already a matter of record. A resurgent Russia presents problems reminiscent of the Cold War — only with the added danger of a leader who has learned that his American counterpart is an anemic bookworm. Putin has intimidated Obama right out of his “mom jeans.” But the Chinese have made no such moves. It’s possible they won’t, choosing instead to quietly observe as Putin mops the floor with Obama. But the Chinese decision to bet on Putin speaks volumes. Putin may well be a bear, but the Chinese dragon is no less worrisome.