Best friends stand by and trust each other through good and bad times. Most solid friendships are based on shared experiences or childhood bonds. It’s comforting to have good friends with whom we can be ourselves and all pretense and role-play falls away. Such is my relationship with Camp whom I’ve known for many years. He’s like a brother and I value his advice and counsel. We know each other’s wives and family, share concerns about health and money and most times we are on the same wavelength with the state of the world and the big picture. We disagree sometimes and respect each other’s opinion. We depend on each other for honesty and solid judgement and we like each other’s company. Such is the state of our friendship. When I asked Camp what he thought of the bromance between Putin and Xi he scoffed at the idea of their friendship.

 ‘Although they have sworn ‘boundless friendship’ to each other, their relationship is above all a partnership of convenience. This was obvious by the recent phone call for Xi’s birthday. Both men are 69 and have met almost 40 times over the past ten years and both men think very highly of themselves.’

            ‘But do they trust each other?’

 ‘Of course not. They are as suspicious of each other as two thieves in the night. They do share some common objectives like their hatred of the US and the West along with their democratic systems. Both men want to be master of the universe and both cling to power by any means possible. Murder, repression, lies and deceit and as in the Ukraine, assault and war.’

 ‘But trade is booming between China and Russia, isn’t it?’ I said.

‘Yes, it is,’ Camp said, consulting his silly phone. ‘As the customs authority in Beijing announced earlier this week, Russia sold more oil to the neighboring country last month than ever before. In May, according to Reuters, it was almost 8.42 million tons of crude oil, 55 percent more than in the previous year and about a quarter more than in April. This makes Russia the largest oil supplier to the People’s Republic, ahead of Saudi Arabia.’

‘While Western oil companies and trading houses have pulled out, Chinese refining companies like Sinopec are benefiting from price discounts. This is not surprising. In recent years, both countries have steadily expanded their economic partnership. But the ratio is extremely unequal. Guess who’s in the driver’s seat.’

‘And both leaders share the same idea of the reorganization of the world. Just last February they signed a joint manifesto in Beijing, which should herald a new era in the world order.’

‘So, there we are: money and power, greed and hate are what drives these two men who would like to be joined by a third one, desperately wanting in to the exclusive club.’

‘You mean Trump? Yes, that would make it a triumvirate of fascist autocrats, ruling the post-modern world. Something to look forward to.’

‘These guys do not have the greatest attributes to be friends. Which begs the question: do powerful and super rich people have any real friends or are they only surrounded by sycophants and lap dogs?’ 

 ‘It’s not for me to judge or say. If I was filthy rich, would you still be my friend?’

 ‘Of course, even more though since you’d be buying all the beer.’

 ‘Ready for a fresh one?’ Vicky asked while exchanging our empties. ‘And happy summer days.’

‘We’ll do our best,’ Camp said.

‘To friends and summer!’

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