From Jordan to Japan: US invites 14 non-NATO nations to Ukraine defense summit
Interestingly, the inclusion of Kenya, Liberia, Morocco and Tunisia may be less about Russia and more about combating China’s growing influence on the continent, said Elizabeth Shackelford, a former State Department official who served in several East African countries.
“China has been a strategic partner to both Kenya and Liberia, but the US still holds greater sway in each. Kenya is an influential country on the continent, so getting it on board with the west is important,” said Shackelford, now with the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.
“Inviting these countries to this meeting signals that their position on [Ukraine] matters, to the US and to the broader coalition,” including host Germany, a major economic power, she added. “This is a level of engagement that China’s transactional relationship doesn’t offer. Don’t forget, it’s an election year in Kenya. International engagement on major global issues at the invitation of the US is a good look.”
All of the African countries are part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
The misbegotten notion that the South Pacific is a US sphere of influence
For its part, the U.S. has neglected the Solomon Islands and taken the country for granted for many years, and it is only when it seems to be drifting towards Beijing’s orbit that our government can be bothered to pay close attention. There hadn’t been a U.S. embassy in Honiara for almost 30 years until it announced it was being reopened earlier this year, and even that was justified as an anti-Chinese move. Washington says that it believes that small states should be able to decide for themselves about how to make their security arrangements and decide their foreign policy orientation, but it doesn’t adhere to that line when a government builds closer ties with China.
Many Western analysts grossly exaggerated the size and importance of an agreement between China and Iran last year with references to an “axis” or an “alliance” that doesn’t exist. More recently, the Pentagon has been sounding the alarm over a possible Chinese naval base in Equatorial Guinea that isn’t being built and wouldn’t pose much of a threat if it did exist.
The U.S. cannot neglect small nations and then expect them to fall in line when U.S. officials finally show up to complain about their relations with other states. If the U.S. wants to cultivate stronger ties with Pacific and Asian nations, it will have to make a consistent effort to work with these governments on issues of common interest. Insofar as the U.S. treats these states primarily as pawns in a rivalry with China, our government should not be surprised when some of them opt to cooperate more closely with China.
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As such, any information coming out of the Five Eyes’ intelligence services should be treated with a healthy dose of skepticism.