The Shanghai Cooperation Organization waqs founded in 2001 as a sort of post-cold war successor to the Warsaw Pact as a security “club” of non-NATO nations. It hasn’t really ever done anything, but there exists the implicit threat that it might if NATO ever gets too big for its britches.
Russia recently petitioned the SCO to provide political cover for its military incursion into South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Indeed, the Russians (probably correctly) view the Georgian government as a receieving assistance and direction from the United States. One might have expected China, being a rising power and rival of the United States, to allow the SCO to grant that cover, if only as an eff-you to Washington. This would have been a bad development because it would have re-congealed the Cold War alliance that was so skillfully split by one of those Republican presidents who shall not be named. I think it is fair to say that this kind of anti-American military alliance would have been a bad development for American national security.
Well, lucky for us, the Chinese just told the Russians to get bent. Seems the Russians and the Chinese have often had a hard time getting along, and only overcame that for a brief period when they were both a workers’ paradise, and had a reason to get along. For now, they don’t get along that well.
It is therefore important that American foreign policy be conducted in such a way as to avoid giving Russia and the Chinese a reason to get along again. This entails some degree of nuance and subtlety: shouting at a group of people (or nations) that you are going to kick all of their asses is a good way to get them to gang up on you instead, especially if you are bigger than any single one of them, and even more so if at the time both of your fists and one of your feet are already occupied in a different fight elsewhere.
The present occupant of our White House, not known for nuance or subtlety, lucked out here, in my opinion. The Chinese have enough issues of their own with the territorial integrity of sovereign states to weigh in on Russia and Georgia now.
Which among the candidates will have the foresight not to undo one of the few good things that old Dick did, and refrain from driving Russia and China back into alliance?
I don’t know. But I’m pretty sure I know which one won’t.