Discourse (Not Only) on the Region. Part II


Our world is so indisputably interconnected that every global topic linked to our strategic partner and strongest supporter of our sovereignty and territorial integrity, the United States of America, becomes an important subject for analysis and discussion within Georgian political and public circles. And this interest is even more relevant and urgent if the matter under discussion is linked to relations between the United States and the world’s second global player, China.

A few words on Pompeo’s recent speech at the Nixon Library in California, which some reputable sources have dubbed the ‘Second Fulton speech’ and others have described as the beginning of a new ‘Cold War’ between Washington and Beijing. I suppose such assessments can be substantiated, but at this stage I think that we should not read anything too exceptional in Pompeo's speech. All things aside, we must pay attention to how Pompeo’s statements will be reflected in concrete and practical actions.

We must also not forget that the US Secretary of State’s speech must be seen through the prism of the extremely complex relations that the US and China have entertained since the end of the Second World War. The thing is that the United States have referred to a ‘new Chinese policy’ several times over the years, notably following the Cultural Revolution, the rapprochement with China under Nixon and Kissinger, the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1979 and the renewed emphasis on China in the 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union. I would also like to mention here the most recent versions of the US National Security and National Defense strategies, which name China as a strategic competitor that is actively seeking to undermine the international order in order to gain greater regional and global influence.

If we look at developments that preceded Pompeo’s recent speech, we will see that these were largely issues relating to the two countries’ commercial rivalry, to the Trans-Pacific Partnership and to free movement in the South China Sea. And this once again to emphasize the characteristics of US-China bilateral relationship.

So what factors made many researchers assess Pompeo’s speech as a declaration of a new Cold War? I believe that the main reason was his negative assessment, as his country’s most senior diplomat, of the previous US administration’s policies vis-à-vis Beijing —‘constructive engagement’ and ‘strategic rapprochement’—and his condemnation of these policies as experiments that failed to encourage China’s democratization. Moreover, Pompeo spoke directly to the Chinese people about the need to introduce changes to their system of government. It is no coincidence that the ‘need’ he spoke of was understood by many as a call for ‘regime change’. However exaggerated this assessment may seem to us in reality, it is indicative of a fundamentally different US attitude towards China’s communist government.

The question now is: How will this approach be reflected in day-to-day US policy? And how likely is it that the White House is really preparing another larger and riskier ‘social engineering’ experiment? For now, this question may seem rhetorical, but as ongoing events develop it might become quite urgent and relevant after all. In any case, it is a fact that Pompeo’s speech outlined a ‘new’ policy for US-Chinese relations bearing some old accents. According to his speech, this policy rests upon ‘new forms of rapprochement’ with the population and ‘personal diplomacy’.

But how achievable is all this in the current pandemic and considering likely post-pandemic geopolitical rearrangements? Will the current or next US administration be able to allocate sufficient resources for the implementation of its stated policies? And how would Chinese society respond to such a policy? It was both logical and to be expected that Chinese propaganda branded Pompeo’s speech as a ‘call to war’ and urged the Chinese people to gather round their Communist Party in order to defeat this external threat.

Considering all the above, it is clear that, in reaction to China’s growing regional pressure on her neighbours and attempts to impose new standards that reflect her global ambitions, US political circles have begun a serious risk analysis and reassessment. Indeed, China’s growing foreign policy ambitions pose a challenge not only to those fragments of the international order that remain but also to the West’s most basic principles of relations between countries. The nearest future will therefore show whether the US Secretary of State’s speech will go down in history as the ‘Long Telegram’ of our times or simply ‘X Article’.

Significance of the Western Solidarity

During a range of critical episodes in the post II World War period, the Western solidarity and common purpose has been heavily premised on the European ‘centre of power’. Indeed, we can all agree that American-European unity is of enormous importance for the correct development of global processes.

Naturally, any kind of crack or split between the two main elements of Western civilization or any break in their co-ordinated and synchronized interaction is a determining factor for Georgia’s sustainability as a state.

Since we have already mentioned consolidation and solidarity in the West, I would like to briefly refer to a developing and indisputably historic EU process of great economic and political significance.

This is the special programme designed to palliate the economic losses the pandemic is causing thanks to 750 billion euros in loans. But it is not the amount of money being allocated that is important, but the fact that for the first time in EU history all 27 member states will be jointly responsible for the loan.

The final decision must be ratified by the national parliaments, but even at this stage it is possible to share the optimism that European unity has generated against a background of dire economic forecasts. The optimism of some political or public figures went even further, leading them to refer to this decision as a ‘Hamilton-like’ moment for Europe. It was Alexander Hamilton, the US Secretary of the Treasury, who in 1790 employed public loans as a mechanism to encourage tighter links between the 13 colonies as well as the process of uniting them in federal union.

However picturesque some assessments of EU renewal may be, I am of the opinion that this particular development is very relevant to our country and something we should support, especially as our main political goal continues to be full EU membership. The Union’s stability and durability are clearly in Georgia’s national interest.


We are to repeat again and again that whatever the regional or international conjuncture may be, if we are to avoid risks and make full use of all the means at our disposal, we must find our own way independently. This is what history tells us and what current events push us to do. A recent speech that Condoleezza Rice gave at the Aspen Security Forum springs to mind, a speech in which she said: ‘The international circumstances may not be very propitious. But you [the Georgians] have to build your own country, have to build your own democracy, have to build your own economy”. It is difficult not to agree with the former US Secretary of State.

By Victor Kipiani, Geocase Chair

IMAGE: US Secretary Michael Pompeo speaks at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum this July. Source: sv.usembassy.gov

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Discourse (Not Only) on the Region. Part I


10 September 2020 16:16