I don't know if there is still any Latin American who believes, as President Petro did a few months ago, that what happened in Ukraine is happening elsewhere.
“What Ukraine or what eight rooms”, he said at the time, when it was politically profitable for him to remain silent in the face of certain things and make friends with certain neighbors.
But what happens in Ukraine is happening right here and it happens to all of us, and if it wasn't clear until now, one would think that it has to be since last Monday: with the (totalitarian) state visit that the Chinese president made to Moscow.
In front of the cameras, Xi Jinping has spoken of prosperity and solidarity, because words can bear anything, and the two autocrats have praised each other that were embarrassing,
(The image of the kitchen can be disturbing, especially if one is swayed by satire shows that have shown us Putin stripped from the waist up, deep in his KGB macho role. That's the character. that the neighborhood thugs turned political figures admire, and the more self-conscious, the more reason: the Trumps, the Orbans, those of Vox in Spain. former hardline communist. But perhaps this way of describing Putin, a character of profound complexity, of a serpentine ambiguity that is one of the reasons for his longevity in power, is wrong. But let's not get sidetracked.)
What I want to say is that there is a lot behind that diplomatic visit from Xi Jinping's China to the war criminal's Russia, and a lot, above all, that concerns us citizens of the rest of the world: this world of ours where a long time ago that things don't just happen where they happen.
Because you don't have to be too suspicious to realize that Xi Jinping pursues things that are not in sight;
above all, one must not have an overflowing imagination to see in this meeting, which is supposedly a peace summit (and has begun, like all peace summits, with military fanfare and martial music), the beginning of something that very well we can understand as a new Cold War.
There is a lot behind that visit, I just wrote, but in reality it would be more accurate to say that there is a lot ahead:
Xi Jinping's people have framed the summit within diplomatic work that wants to promote or favor peace talks between Russia and Ukraine.
But I think we are entitled to a certain skepticism: because another of the things that Putin and Xi Jinping have shared since 2012, when the Chinese president came to power, is a multifaceted and diverse campaign whose sole objective is to counter the United States.
Just a few weeks ago, Xi Jinping complained that Western Europe, led by the United States, has implemented policies that China considers hostile or even aggressive.
A friend who knows more about these things than I do explained that Xi Jinping's rhetoric had included an interesting concept: containment.
Of that he accused the European countries and the United States of Biden:
of implementing containment policies against China.
Why is that word important?
Because it refers directly to the rhetoric of the most critical moments of the Cold War.
Perhaps you will remember it, if you have been interested in these subjects or if you have read, like me, too many novels by John Le Carré.
: this is how the North American strategy against the expansion of communism became known.
The word was first described by an obscure Truman administration official, George Kennan, and he used it, without revealing his name, in a 1947 article that we have come to know—eloquently—as “Article X ”.
What was said there was that US policy towards the Soviet Union should go through "a long-term containment, patient but firm and vigilant, of Russian expansive tendencies."
Kennan was not an ideologue, but he was a good connoisseur of Russian history.
I reach out and find my
History of the 20th century
by Eric Hobsbawm.
For Kennan, I read there, Russia was a society ruled by men who were driven by a “traditional and instinctive sense of insecurity”, always “cut off from the outside world, always ruled by autocrats”, always bent on the complete destruction of the rival, “without never reach agreements or compromises”: always reacting, says Hobsbawm, “to the logic of force”, not of reason.
Hobsbawm published his book in 1995, but what he says doesn't sound old to me.
Xi Jinping's use of the most sensitive vocabulary of the Cold War is a rarity.
I can imagine, however, what it looks like from his position as a concerned autocrat: a series of policies designed in the West to contain its economic expansion and its military might, which began in earnest with Trump and his openly anti-China rhetoric, but did not they have stayed there.
When the Biden government sends signals that it wants to ban TikTok (which is not just a social network, unless one is completely naive or Rodolfo Hernández, but a sophisticated spy tool), it is possible to understand in its intentions a way, updated to our days and our concerns, of the containment of all life.
And just a few days ago, when the Japanese Prime Minister came to visit kyiv,
with the open intention of supporting those attacked in the war, it was impossible for me not to remember that shortly before he had met with Biden.
He spoke of missiles, of military doctrine, of strategic changes so that the North American army can support Japan in the event of conflicts in the Asian Pacific.
And of course: all this is new.
And also worrying.
Well, since the end of the Second War, Japan has maintained a stubborn pacifism in the area;
now, by visiting Kiev and meeting with Biden, Japan is sending out unmistakable signals of collaboration—or alignment, if you like—that seem directed at Ukraine and the United States, but are actually being done with an eye on China.
And with an eye on China, and on the Chinese alliance with Putin's Russia, the leaders of the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia met in San Diego: an unprecedented alliance whose objective was to share military technology, something that had not happened from the times of fear to atomic war.
Never, in all of its history, had Australia shown such concern over the (albeit abstract, albeit remote) possibility of armed conflict.
The Ukraine war is also happening in China.
The Ukrainian war is also happening in Japan, and in Taiwan.
The war in Ukraine, by winding paths, has reached the Australian shores.
This is how alliances and agreements and loyalties are formed, but fears and paranoia are also cultivated.
Just like in the Cold War.
That also happened, if I'm not mistaken, in Latin America.
Juan Gabriel Vásquez
Juan Gabriel Vásquez
is a writer.
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