Wednesday, February 05, 2003
Everyone is harping on how France is no longer an ally because of their obstructionism on Iraq. Anyone comment lately on the dog that hasn't barked - China?
The Russians have a lot economically at stake in Iraq, but they have more at stake in their relationship with the U.S. Putin has staked his Presidency on an alliance with George W. Bush, and he made that choice when it was already clear that we'd be going after Iraq. It would make no sense to back out now; rather, Russia is just trying to get as much as it can out of the negotiating process. Britain, meanwhile, has behaved as a staunch American ally, going well beyond what I would have expected. The Arab states, Turkey and Iran are all playing more or less according to type. But China is being a little surprising.
The Chinese would normally be pretty touchy about violations of national sovereignty, suggestions that a U.S.-led coalition could break up or reorder a country, and so forth. They were not happy about the Kossovo war. But we've heard very little from them on Iraq. And the consensus seems to be they will abstain, regardless of what France does.
What's their game? Are they genuinely afraid of antagonizing an aroused U.S.? Is there an emerging quid-pro-quo whereby China is not obstructive in the war on terror and in exchange we give them more of a sphere of influence in Asia? Does the North Korean situation have anything to do with their acquiescence on Iraq?
I'm genuinely curious. Email from China experts welcome.