Power & Market

Washington Miffed as China makes Peace

For those who have followed the background noise of US activities in the Middle East over the past year, since it was last seriously in the news following the disastrous execution by the Biden administration of the long overdue withdrawal from Afghanistan, they will recall a vague haze of reported drone strikes, arms sales, and Israeli assassinations; more recently, they will recall resistance to attempts to end the U.S. military roles in Syria and Yemen, the death of the Iran nuclear deal, and the blocking of earthquake relief. 

China, by contrast, with no military presence in the Middle East at all, just quietly concluded talks between the Iranian and Saudi leadership that resulted in the normalizing of their diplomatic relations. 

Quite the contrast.

And despite complaints by the hawks and Israel-firsters in the Democratic and Republican parties, this deal is good for multiple reasons. First, it will help end the wars in Yemen and Syria where Iran and Saudi Arabia have been among the chief backers of opposite sides of the two proxy conflicts. Together, they’ve gone on over twenty years and killed well over a million people.

Two: it signals that China, who buys most of the oil from the Gulf monarchies these days, is going to start more actively investing political capital in the region. The only party that can be trusted by all sides concerned, as Beijing is ideally situated to mediate invariably arising disputes. There are real costs involved, and it would be good to see someone other than the American taxpayer start footing these bills.

Naturally, Washington acts like anything that happens anywhere without its imprimatur constitutes a threat to national security – much like Ted Cruz recently embarrassed himself by claiming the same about the mere temporary docking of two small Iranian warships in Brazil.

Worth noting as an aside, their permission to dock came despite months of reported pressure by Washington to deny them port and after Lula had already been to Washington to meet with Biden.

Apart from knowing that somewhere at the State Department someone is being paid a six-figure salary to harass Brazilian officials for literal months about a pair of small Iranian vessels taking port in their ostensibly independent and sovereign country, everywhere everyone seems to be taking every opportunity to try to send Washington the message that they have no interest in yet another round of so-called “great power” competition.

A minor, potential downside to the deal being done between Riyadh and Tehran is that it may complicate efforts to normalize Saudi-Israeli relations. But here it should be noted that any potential deal to get that done already looks terrible from the point of view of the average American: Riyadh’s demands include formal American security guarantees, more weapons, and a nuclear program.

Realistically, given the power of the Israel lobby, Washington’s failed policy of wasting American lives and treasure in pursuit of Israeli policy priorities in the Middle East hardly looks likely to be seriously disturbed by China’s mediation of Riyadh and Tehran’s most recent spat. 

If it is going to be disturbed by anything, it will be by the new Israeli government. But that is another story.

In short, China facilitating these talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia was a good thing to see. It will help bring peace and save lives.

Or, as State Department shill Jonathan Panikoff, writing for the Atlantic Council put it:

“It should be a warning to U.S. policymakers: Leave the Middle East and abandon ties with frustrating, even barbarous, but long-standing allies, and you’ll simply be leaving a vacuum for China to fill.”

Fill with what? Peace? To replace four decades of Washington’s war? 

The horror.

Note: The views expressed on Mises.org are not necessarily those of the Mises Institute.
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