Is U.S.-Russian Rivalry Only for Show?


The United States and Russia put on a good display of being at each other’s throats. But what if that rivalry is nothing more than a show?

As I covered in my last article on the relationship between the Russian and U.S. Intelligence Services, it’s according to Intelligence that governments plan their negotiations and decide whether or not to put forth a plan for military deployment. This is a perfectly normal and sensible approach to foreign policy. However, the line is crossed at the point where Intelligence Services are used to create situations where deployment would seem viable, e.g. by manipulating intelligence and cooking up statistics.

Russian and U.S. foreign policy has been both very intimately and very discretely linked in the past few decades: wherever the U.S. deploys its troops, they find themselves faced with enemies armed with Russian weaponry and gear; and whenever Russia cracks down on former Soviet allies for insubordination, they very often find themselves facing rebels armed with supposedly stolen or smuggled U.S. weapons. At the same time, Russia often sends the U.S. warnings when it is about to launch an attack in the Middle East, and threatens to stay out of the conflict and leave the U.S. to their own devices (for example the deployments in Syria and Iraq), while the U.S. calls Russia on what it calls infringements of human rights and impingements on the sovereignty of its neighbors. And yet, neither ever actually personally intervenes in the other’s affairs!

In the past 30 or so years, Russia and the U.S. have very clearly avoided direct confrontation. Some might say that this is out of fear that a third World War might break out, and they would probably be right with regards to the original reasoning behind it all. However, in the past decade or so, it seems as though the two superpowers are just maintaining appearances while allowing each other to pursue their goals.

The underlying question is this: Why would two former rivals allow each other to gain in strength and influence? Surely, it would be in their interest to keep their opponent from getting stronger, thereby securing their own position as the world’s superpower. One possible conclusion is that they have a common interest in keeping everyone else out of the game. While one uses their power and influence to keep a rising force from becoming an actual threat (either by crushing them through deployment or by bringing them under their influence and control) the other underhandedly fuels the opposing side’s war effort and gains commercially. This would explain how small resistance groups and guerrillas end up well enough equipped to put up a significant enough fight for a prolonged war effort to be maintained. And nothing fuels a state’s economy like war.

At the same time, rivals remain rivals, and while their interests might coincide both sides, they have very distinct plans that are unique to them. And these most certainly include plans to gain an advantage over the other. Perhaps it’s a case of keep your friends close and your enemies even closer?

Alon Starkman
Alon Starkman
Sgt. Alon Fosman Starkman is a former Sergeant of the Swiss Army Support to Command Division. His past intelligence work focused mainly on the political situation in the Middle East region (Lybia, Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, and Syria), with specific emphasis on the Israeli perspective.