NEW YORK – Prominent American strategists whom I have known for years and who previously displayed signs of rationality have gone mad at the prospect of American strategic decline.

China is the obvious winner in the present international crisis. It has the luxury of choosing between two outcomes that increase its power: to act as a friend of all the parties in the Ukraine dispute and mediate the conflict, or to gain the battered Russian Federation as an ally. It probably can do both.

The United States put Ukraine on track for a violent confrontation with Russia by undermining the Russian-backed Minsk II agreement, which would have kept Ukraine out of NATO and allowed home rule for the Russophone provinces Donetsk and Luhansk within a sovereign Ukraine.