There is a lot of griping over the lack of progress in the war in Iraq, and consequently a lot of griping about the role Iran has played in destabilizing the country. Iran is also in the news for its nuclear technology development, missile development, and the courting of a relationship with Al Qaeda. Clearly, no military strategy or policy in Iraq will be successful until Iran stops meddling, and long-term stability in the region is unlikely with Iran as a regional power.
So we need an effective means of dealing with Iran. But the problem with Iran is not only Iran itself, but also its sponsors who have supported it with technology, arms, and diplomatic assistance. Russia and China. Both countries have been collaborating with each other as well as with Iran. From The ties that bind China, Russia and Iran:
The military implementation of the George W Bush administration’s unilateralist foreign policy is creating monumental changes in the world’s geostrategic alliances. The most significant of these changes is the formation of a new triangle comprised of China, Iran and Russia.
Growing ties between Moscow and Beijing in the past 18 months is an important geopolitical event that has gone practically unnoticed. … In addition to settling long-standing border issues, Moscow and Beijing agreed to hold joint military exercises in 2005. This marks the first large-scale military exercises between Russia and China since 1958.
The joint military exercises complement a rapidly growing arms trade between Moscow and Beijing. China is Russia’s largest buyer of military equipment. In 2004, China was reported to have signed deals worth more than $2 billion for Russian arms. These included naval ships and submarines, missile systems and aircraft. According to the head of Russia’s armed forces, Anatoliy Kvashnin, “our defense industrial complex is working for this country [China], supplying the latest models of arms and military equipment, which the Russian army does not have”. Russia’s relations with China are not limited to military trade. In the past five years, non-military trade between Russia and China has increased at an average annual rate of nearly 20%.
This means, of course, that trade between the two countries has more than doubled in five years, and that China now arms its military with the best technologies of China and Russia. Russia now supplies electricity and oil to China, and they have teamed in the UN to block US-supported resolutions on several occasions. Of course the two pals are now working closely with Iran economically, militarily, and politically:
In March 2004, China’s state-owned oil trading company, Zhuhai Zhenrong Corporation, signed a 25-year deal to import 110 million tons of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Iran. This was followed by a much larger deal between another of China’s state-owned oil companies, Sinopec, and Iran, signed in October 2004. This deal, worth about $100 billion, allows China to import a further 250 million tons of LNG from Iran’s Yadavaran oilfield over a 25-year period. …
This huge deal also enlists substantial Chinese investment in Iranian energy exploration, drilling and production as well as in petrochemical and natural gas infrastructure. Total Chinese investment targeted toward Iran’s energy sector could exceed a further $100 billion over 25 years. At the end of 2004, China became Iran’s top oil export market. Apart from the oil and natural gas delivery contracts, the massive investment being undertaken by China’s state-owned oil companies in Iran’s energy sector contravenes the US Iran-Libya Sanctions Act. This law penalizes foreign companies for investing more than $20 million in either Libya or Iran.
Side-stepping US laws is nothing new for China. Beijing, as well as Moscow, has supplied Tehran with advanced missiles and missile technology since the mid-1980s. In addition to anti-ship missiles like the Silkworm, China has sold Iran surface-to-surface cruise missiles and, along with Russia, assisted in the development of Iran’s long-range ballistic missiles. This assistance included the development of Iran’s Shihab-3 and Shihab-4 missiles, with a range of about 2,000 kilometers.
Like relations between China and Russia and China and Iran, Russia’s relations with Iran have also advanced considerably in the past 18 months. In addition to increased investment in Iran by Russia and burgeoning arms trade between the two countries, Russia has been heavily involved in Iran’s nascent nuclear energy industry.
The new geostrategic alliance
Along with energy trade, investment and economic development, the China-Iran-Russia alliance has cultivated compatible foreign policies. …
The most compelling aspect of this alliance is revealed in China’s and Russia’s support for Iran’s much-maligned nuclear energy program. The Putin government has consistently maintained that Russia would not support UN Security Council resolutions that condemn Iran’s nuclear energy program or apply economic sanctions against Iran. …
Beijing has echoed Moscow’s opposition to UN action against Iran. After concluding the historic gas and oil deal between China and Iran in October 2004, China’s Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing announced that China would not support UN Security Council action against Iran’s nuclear energy program. …
The endorsement of Tehran’s nuclear energy program by Moscow and Beijing reveals the primary impetus behind the China-Iran-Russia axis – to counter US unilateralism and global hegemonic intentions. For Beijing and Moscow, this means minimizing US influence in Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. For the regime in Tehran, keeping the US at bay is a matter of survival.
From this perspective, Iran is integral to thwarting the Bush administration’s foreign policy goals. This is precisely why Beijing and Moscow have strengthened their economic and diplomatic ties with Tehran. It is also why Beijing and Moscow are providing Tehran with increasingly sophisticated weapons.
This is Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robots on a global scale. Players fight with proxy robots to gain political and economic advantages. China and Russia have their robot, Iran, while the US is forced to play for itself. This ties up our resources, costs us international and domestic political capital, and wearies the public. By staying aloof, China and Russia can avoid the economic costs of war and reconstruction, instead using those resources to strengthen their economies and militaries. You can see their building efforts in the chart below (data from SIPRI):
We regard the threat of islamofascism as a major concern for Western civilization, where Islamic expansionists take advantage of Western freedoms to lay roots and pursue a strategy of cancerous growth. Russian and China, not as tolerant of religious and personal freedoms, don’t share these concerns. They simply want to change global power dynamics to our disadvantage, and, to that end, they’re quite willing to aid Islamic extremists.
This is a resurrection of the Cold War in a slightly different guise. It is a war for world influence and economic superiority which uses islamofascism and terrorism as tools to gain advantage. We have tried to strengthen our bonds with China, but have only succeeded in assisting their economic and technological ascent. Now we’re working more closely with India as a long-term hedge against the Sino-Russian alliance.
The Global War on Terror is a euphemism for a Global War on Islamofascism, which has become a proxy for the Second Cold War. Unless we start fighting the real war as well as the proxy war, we can count on more violence, more international problems, and more economic difficulties. It’s time to face our real foes, before: