Monday, August 07, 2006

Time for China to Step Up to the Plate

The past four bloody weeks in the Middle East make it clear that the one superpower system we have known since the end of the cold war has failed, both morally and in terms of international stability. For dangerously far too long, the United States ands its allies in the Middle East (namely Israel, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia) have been able to repress, bomb, invade, imprison and dishonestly negotiate with the weakened population in the area. More than ever, as the Palestinian Authority continues to be boxed in, bombed and prevented from functioning, it is becoming evident that the Palestinian question will never be resolved under the U.S.-Israel Peace Process, which offers nothing but crumbs to the Palestinians and is in effect an indirect way to make a repressed population agree to occupation and abandon their rights as a people. All of which serves as fuel for those, like al-Qaeda, who despise the U.S.

The situation in Lebanon is no better, and the reason why the entire region is currently in such a mess is because Israel, backed and armed by the U.S., knows it can unleash its forces without facing the consequences of its actions. In other words, Washington's green light on the invasion of Lebanon means that Israel can do what it wants with near impunity (other than the 90-odd killed, more than half of them soldiers, by Hezbollah). The U.S. system of direct invasion (Iraq) or of reliance on regional spearheads like Israel has amply demonstrated its moral and in fact strategic corruption, and can only take us where we don't want to go.

What is needed, therefore, is another superpower, one that can not only tell Israel to stop, but that can make Washington pause, too. There simply cannot not be a price to pay for what the neo-colonial powers are doing in the Middle East. It is therefore time for China to step to the plate and claim its rightful place in the world of diplomacy. Only it, through its economic clout, can hurt Israel to such an extent that the latter will think twice before continuing its destruction of Lebanon, or push onwards into Syria. As The Asia Times has noted, "Israel's military industry is dependent on exports for its survival. And arms sales to China are among its most lucrative businesses." If ever there was a lever, this is one that Beijing could consider.

Only China can make Washington realize that there will be a cost to propping up a rogue state in the region, one that destabilizes it to such an extent that it endangers world security and access to the oil that the country of 1.3 billion so desperately needs.

Arab states have failed as a community of nations and are too divided to consolidate into a common front to confront the formidable might of a combined Israel and U.S. military. Other powers like Britain, France, Germany, India and Japan are unable to sway the superpower and, when they are not rallying behind it, are treated as little more than mere annoyances. Note that all of them have long been plugged into the system of economic subservience devised by Washington.

Sadly, it now seems that the world urgently needs the entry onto the scene of a state that, it must be said, is far from diplomatic or respectful of the human rights of its citizens. This notwithstanding, China's population, added to its economic and, increasingly, military weight, is required as a counterbalance to the lopsided, primus inter pares system that currently exists. This, dear readers, is the lesser of two evils. The human rights abuses committed by Israel, with support from the U.S., far outweight whatever ills currently haunt the Chinese system. And don't get me wrong; as my previous writings make it crystal-clear, I am no fan of Beijing's policies. Still, only China can afford to go against the U.S., and China is the only country that the U.S. cannot afford to lose, both as a trading partner and a promoter of security and prosperity in an all-too-important region of the world. Only it has a voice that the rest of the world might consider listening to.

It's grand time for a new voice. The murderous monologue has gone on for far too long.

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