From the Editors 28 April 2023
That was a key theme in a livestream I participated in with hip hop artist Lowkey, a Mint Press writer and a contributor to The Electronic Intifada.
We were hosted by journalist Danny Haiphong on his YouTube show. You can watch the video above.
Our lively discussion touched on issues I raised in my recent article, “Why the Saudis have called off their Israeli wedding.”
Central to considering China’s role is looking at the rapid unraveling of US global power, especially in the light of the US going all-in on a proxy war against Russia on the European continent, which Ukraine has no chance of winning.
In many regions China is stepping into the vacuum left by the US, gaining friends and allies not with military threats, but by building infrastructure including roads, ports, schools and hospitals in dozens of countries all over the world.
In Iraq, which was destroyed by the United States, for example, China is building 8,000 schools.
A major win for Chinese diplomacy was its recent brokering of an historic reconciliation between Saudi Arabia and Iran, a rapprochement that has the potential to bring progress on other fronts, such as finally ending the US-led proxy wars in Syria and Yemen.
“What China has been able to do is say to Saudi Arabia, ‘if you want us to trade with you in currencies other than the dollar, if you want the benefit of a good relationship with us, then you have to drop the sectarian agenda in the region and be willing to engage with Iran as a good faith actor,” Lowkey explains.
Saudi Arabia, long dependent on the US, is now diversifying its relations with other major powers. As it does so, it sees less need to normalize ties with Israel, a move whose primary purpose would have been to please its patrons in Washington.
According to Lowkey, this realignment is also giving resistance factions in Palestine and Lebanon “a new found confidence” to confront Israel as a united front.
“They understand that when Iran is taken out of isolation, so too are the resistance factions,” Lowkey adds. “Instantly what that does is weaken Israel’s ability to assert power over the Palestinians.”
The end of “limited conflicts” for Israel
I pointed out that Israel understands this emerging reality, as reflected in recent comments by its defense minister.
“This is the end of the era of limited conflicts,” Yoav Gallant told reporters earlier this month. “We are facing a new security era in which there may be a real threat to all arenas at the same time.”
“We operated for years under the assumption that limited conflicts could be managed, but that is a phenomenon that is disappearing,” Gallant added. “Today, there is a noticeable phenomenon of the convergence of the arenas.”
In other words, Israel can no longer have the confidence that if it attacks Gaza, the conflict will remain limited to Gaza, or that if it attacks the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, that events will remain localized in Jerusalem.
Neither can it be assured anymore that during a major escalation with the Palestinians, Lebanon’s powerful Hizballah resistance group will stay out of the fight.
Although Israel still possesses enormous military might, its ability to dictate terms is eroding as the US slowly retreats from the region after its military and political failures in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen and Afghanistan.
I noted that China recently offered to mediate between Palestinians and Israelis, and while I do not think this is likely to lead to any results in the near term, it is significant that Beijing feels willing and able to step into a role that the United States has always monopolized – consistently to the benefit of Israel and the detriment of the Palestinians and the rest of the region.
Perhaps more important in the short term, as we discussed, is China stepping up its diplomacy towards ending the war in Ukraine as indicated by the recent phone call between President Xi Jinping and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Not satisfied with entering a bloody quagmire in Ukraine just months after their defeat in and chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, the United States and its European vassals are also trying to pick a fight with China over Taiwan.
This month European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell urged member states to send their warships to the Taiwan Strait, a policy I called madness.
I pointed out that the United States, the EU – in fact the whole world except a tiny handful of countries such as Guatemala – agree that the People’s Republic of China is the sole legal government of China, of which Taiwan is an integral part.
I argued that China has never shown any interest in reintegrating Taiwan by force and has instead focused on fostering the burgeoning economic ties between the island and the mainland.
The only factor that brings in the military equation is the meddling and provocations by the United States and now the EU.
But if the EU – acting as an American proxy – successfully instigate a war across the Taiwan Strait, we can be sure that European armies and navies are not going to sail to the rescue of Taiwan. All that would happen is that yet another country would be destroyed at enormous human cost.
One can only imagine the reaction if China were to send its brand new aircraft carrier Fujian to the English Channel or to the North Sea or the Gulf of Mexico, or park it off of New York harbor.
And yet the US and EU think it is the most natural thing in the world for them to go and interfere halfway around the world where nobody asked them to, where they can do no good and where there are no problems except the ones they themselves are creating.
This dangerous foolishness looks like the death throes of a dying empire.
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