Military Review

USA, Russia, and China: Strategies for Global Influence (Agora Vox, France) Dominoes, Chess, and Chinese Go

In the modern world there are three countries that challenge each other the right to zones of influence or, in other words, to imperial ambitions.

First of all, it is about the USA. This is the only country whose ambitions are of a global scale. NATO, other allied states (such as Israel, South Korea, Australia, etc.) and 737 military bases around the world (in 2007) - the influence of Washington covers the whole Earth. With regard to the United States, the domino strategy comes to the fore.

Russia will be the second country considered: it defends its position in the near abroad and can rely on several friendly countries in Asia and Latin America. Her strategy can be compared to a game of chess.

Finally, we must not forget about China. This new player is just starting to place its pieces on the board. Stones from go.

This article does not aim to conduct a thorough analysis of world geopolitics. It only allows you to better understand the behavior of these three countries on the example of the game.

Domino and USA

This game is relatively simple, it has only one clear rule: to force the maximum number of dominoes to fall, striking weak knuckles that will drag their neighbors behind them. All fallen knuckles are considered winnings. The goal is to get all the dominoes and thus become the absolute winner.

However, the player may face several unpleasant surprises.

• There is a knuckle that cannot be touched directly. Otherwise, all dominoes will collapse and all players will lose.

• If it is bad to calculate the blow, the domino will begin to fall in the wrong direction, and the player will spend a lot of strength for an insignificant result.

• Do not allow fallen dominoes to rise. This can happen if a player is too absorbed in another area of ​​the party.

In other words, the United States has set itself the task of forcing the whole world to follow their economic and political model thanks to globalization and to justify the spread of “Western democracy”.

US trumps: a dollar, an army with ultra-modern equipment, all-knowing and sprute-like diplomacy, support for major media and control over cyberspace.

US weaknesses: huge debts, lack of prospects for economic growth, strategic failure in Iraq and the Middle East, the growing influence of the BRIC countries.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, many states moved to the American camp. First of all, here it is necessary to mention Central Europe, the republics of the former USSR (the Baltic countries and Georgia), as well as Côte d'Ivoire and Libya. In addition, many other states are at gunpoint. First of all it concerns the countries rich in raw materials. In this regard, Iran, Central Asia, Algeria, Angola, Venezuela and Africa come to mind.

The US strategy, apparently, is to gain control over the production of raw materials, as well as transport corridors, which also serves as an instrument of pressure on China and Russia.

Each time the United States used part or full set of trumps in order to achieve their goals.

Obstacles they will face or that they could not avoid in the past.

• Direct confrontation with Russia must be avoided at all costs. Given the current weakness of the national army, Russia will have no alternative but to use the nuclear arsenal as soon as possible, which means the mutual destruction of opponents (even if there is a winner here, he will be fatally wounded). For this reason, the US is trying to achieve its objectives in other ways: the policy of surrounding Russia, neutralizing its nuclear arsenal with the help of a missile defense system, or even involving Moscow in their own camp. Now it’s rather a red reset button.

• Some initiatives were poorly prepared and did not produce the expected results. The knuckles of Iraq and Afghanistan did not fall in the desired direction. In Iraq, democratic elections brought the Shiite majority to power, which rather supports the Iranian enemy, whereas in Afghanistan, NATO troops are in a geographically isolated region and surrounded by hostile states. Only a long and expensive supply chain allows them to fight. The situation is a bit like the position of the French in Vietnamese Dienbienfu. In the US, they were not prepared for such lengthy wars that dealt a serious blow to their budget. They did not expect from their enemies and similar adaptability. Asymmetric warfare, suicide bombers, improvised explosive devices ...

• Excessive obsession with tough nuts like Iran and Iraq, as well as a lack of financial resources to strengthen the results achieved, in some cases led to regress. This applies to most of Latin America, Ukraine, Lebanon ... who are moving further and further away from the United States.


The United States and in particular its armed forces do not intend to concede or even share their world leadership. A new, more allied, approach that President Obama has presented during the election campaign is emerging at the moment.

France operates in Côte d'Ivoire, France and the United Kingdom are fighting in Libya, Turkey, apparently, will soon appear in Syria and, finally, all oppose Iran.

In addition, European countries need to prepare for the strongest pressure aimed at a significant increase in their military budgets in the coming years to protect the interests of their American ally. Europeans will have to choose butter oder kanonen, guns or butter.

Chess and Russia

In this case we are talking about a much more difficult game. Her goal is to knock down the enemy king, while the enemy does not put you check and checkmate.

Some important rules.

• You can play multiple simultaneous games. The strongest player fights with many opponents on several boards, which increases the chances of achieving a result.

• The game will not necessarily be a winner. Even if your positions leave much to be desired, the game can still be reduced to a draw, creating a stalemate or having achieved a threefold repetition of one move.

• When you go into a dull defense, the slightest mistake can lead to defeat in the party.

As a result of the strategic mistakes made in 1990-ies, Russia was on the defensive and with little or no chance of defeating its main adversary, the United States, if, of course, he did not allow a blunder.

Russia is content with attempts to intervene in the near abroad to create defensive lines in its “patrimony”. It is primarily about the countries of the former USSR and the Arctic. Syria looks like a modest test lunge, which could allow Russia to get a naval base in the Mediterranean. However, it should be remembered that the passage of warships from the Black Sea through the Turkish straits is determined by the Montreux Convention, which bans it for several types of ships, such as aircraft carriers.

Military alliances with faraway countries are also not on the agenda. Sale weapons makes the state a client, not an ally.

Russia is currently faced with the task of gaining time to restore the economy and armed forces of the country. Now she is among the ten strongest economies in the world and intends to rise to fifth place by 2017 year. The army began the process of modernization. Soon, the military will receive new weapons, for example, Mistral helicopter carriers, Sukhoi T-50 aircraft, C-400 and C-500 missiles, Borey-class submarines, and Topol and Bulava strategic missiles. Do not forget that the GLONASS satellite navigation system was developed primarily for the needs of the army. In addition, it should be noted, and new areas of current research, such as amazing liquid armor, the practical application of which so far remains only to speculate.

Russia does not intend to create a rapid reaction force outside the near abroad. For example, there are no plans in the country to build new aircraft carriers before 2020, or to open military bases in remote regions of the world.

Russia can count on a number of friendly states in Asia and Latin America: Syria, Vietnam, Venezuela, Nicaragua ...

The rules that Russia follows.

• In the confrontation with the United States, which adhere to the strategy of attacking several players at once, Russia relies on the exhaustion of American forces.

• Russia is trying to extricate itself from the unpleasant situation by consolidating its zone of influence and staking on the formation of a multipolar world in which the weight of the United States will be noticeably less.

• For a long period of recuperation, Russia is in weak defensive positions and should take on new NATO conquests if they affect its strategic zones.

Russia's trumps: a fearsome nuclear arsenal, huge reserves of raw materials, insignificant debt, foreign exchange reserves of more than 500 billions of dollars, the military-industrial complex, and significant potential for economic and industrial development.

Russia's weaknesses: dependence on commodity prices, reflexes inherited from the Soviet period, such as low productivity, corruption and parallel markets, as well as capital flight organized by the oligarchy.


Experienced player Vladimir Putin will soon be again in the presidency of the country, replacing the overly appealing (in dialogue with the West) Dmitry Medvedev, who has surrendered his position on too many issues. We are talking about Libya, sanctions against Iran and the refusal to sell it to C-300, the NATO missile defense system, etc.

All of this suggests an upcoming tension in relations with NATO countries at a time when Europeans are stronger than they ever need Russian gas.

Go and China

The task of the game is to arrange the stones at the intersection of the goban lines (board with 19 lines on the 19 lines) to surround the maximum number of enemy stones and prevent their environment. That is, some moves serve for defense, and some for offensive.

This is a very difficult game with extremely simple rules.

• An uninitiated or novice player cannot understand the true purpose of placing stones. The picture begins to gradually become clear only in the course of the game, but then it becomes too late to avoid encirclement.

• The winner is the one who manages to isolate the largest number of enemy stones. The loser, in turn, also captures prisoners, but in smaller quantities.

Here we could hide behind the lack of a deep understanding of China and its recent assertion as the largest economic power to abandon the analysis of its strategy. Nevertheless, there are many components that can be relied on.

The Chinese are a nation of merchants, not conquerors. Since the creation of the People’s Republic of China, all wars have taken place within its borders (in Aksaicin in 1962, and Xinjiang in 1968, due to border disputes inherited from the colonial era), or resulted in a punitive expedition against Vietnam in 1979.

From what we know about the Chinese military program, we can conclude that the Chinese fleet does not intend to plow all the seas on the planet. Just three aircraft carriers are definitely not enough for this.

At the same time, research on ballistic anti-ship missiles indicates that China is going to create a threat to the American aircraft carriers located on its coast.

Like Russia, China is rapidly catching up with a qualitative lag in armaments. The aircraft of the fifth generation J 20, the construction of aircraft carriers, the assembly of submarines of all types and the Beidou satellite navigation system are the main features of the modernization process.

• China puts figures around the world. He is confident that his strategy will not bring success everywhere. It is still difficult to determine which countries will be in his camp. All this will depend on the arrangement of the US figures. Here are some likely candidates. Iran, Pakistan, and Central Asia — these countries are making significant investments from China and would be happy to change their current patron to Beijing, which is much less closely connected with Israel. It should also be noted several African countries where barter transactions for the construction of infrastructures in exchange for raw materials, apparently, have been successful.

• A possible US retreat in South Asia can already be considered a success. The appearance of allies in Central Asia, among Arab states and in Africa would be a real triumph.

China's trumps: foreign reserves of more than three trillion dollars, unprecedented economic growth and the image of an alternative to the United States.

China's weaknesses: existing military backwardness, critical dependence on imports of raw materials, the threat of secession of remote provinces such as Xinjiang or Tibet, and the fact that the United States realized that China is the main contender for their leadership.


China will gradually expand its zone of marine activity in a large part of the Indian Ocean in the face of competition with the United States.

China’s expansion into the rest of the world will be limited to commerce.

The standoff between China and the United States in the countries of the Arabian Peninsula and in Africa is expected, which at first will no doubt be in favor of the United States.

If Iran succeeds in avoiding war, he will undoubtedly take the side of China.

General conclusion

Whatever the chosen game, it is safe to say that the world is entering a dangerous period of change that awaits us in the coming decades. In addition, it seems that those who have effective armed forces do not hesitate to use them as an argument in the absence of other means of persuasion.

In the future, it is likely that the BRIC countries will increasingly stand in common positions in the face of the “international community” of the American bloc.

In conclusion, I would like to rephrase the phrase erroneously attributed to Andre Malraux: I think that the XXI will be multipolar and tolerant, or not at all.

As for the spiritual, you will have to wait for the XXII century.
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