The New Model of Power Relations and the Middle East Crisis

The New Model of Power Relations and the Middle East Crisis.

Most Americans are ignorant of the shifting alliances and power blocs that are influencing the course of events in the Middle East. As a result, recent moves by Russia and China in Syria and the Mediterranean Sea have come as a shock to many observers. But those that have followed China and Russia since the mid 1990s, when the Shanghai Cooperative Organization (SCO) was formed as an alternative to the unipolar world led by United States (and, also, as a response to an increasingly assertive and capable NATO) know that the SCO axis had a prior record of conducting multiple national-level joint military and security exercises well before the crisis in Syria placed them in an operational role. [1 & 2]

They also know that the U.S. has played a leadership role in facilitating the recent re-emergence of Russia as a global power and in the rise of China as a military power. Larger American firms tied to the current administration have also been given economic incentives to help sustain China’s faltering economy thereby ensuring that China realizes its vision for the Middle East. [3, 4, & 5]

In September 2012 Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi gave a speech at the Brookings Institution in which he presented China’s vision of the future in an address titled “A New Power Relationship.” According to Mr. Wang Yi, the interests of China and the United States are clearly divergent and will thus enable the two nations to avoid the kind of frictions that can spark conflict between expanding and dominant global powers. In this conceptualization, the “new power relationship” is necessarily and inevitably a peaceful one that will prevent the kind of wars that devastated vast regions and killed millions in the previous century. [6]

Of course, for those regions that the U.S. has effectively ceded to China, life under Chinese hegemony will be lived on terms dictated by their rulers in Beijing. Given the authoritarian nature of the Chinese regime, it is altogether likely that those terms will often be very unpleasant indeed and will lead to these nations virtual enslavement by regimes that will not hesitate to deal with dissent through the barrel of a gun.

And yet President Obama’s administration, evidently untroubled by the reality and implications of China’s growing power, has actively embraced China’s “New Power Relationship” concept. Accordingly, when Susan Rice gave her own speech at Georgetown University she neither articulated a U.S. counter-vision nor spoke of America’s interest in promoting liberal democratic/humanitarian values, but instead discussed how the U.S. could “actualize the New Power Relationship” with China. [7]

Thus, in a few years under the current administration the U.S. has surrendered initiative and leadership on foreign policy to the SCO axis. China is now ahead of U.S. in terms of providing a conceptual vision of the future in not only Asia but also throughout world.

This became glaringly apparent last week when Americans watched with astonishment and no little dismay as the Russians and Chinese, in collusion with Iran, undertook to support the Assad regime in the civil war in Syria. Bear in mind that this is the same regime that the Obama administration identified as having crossed a “red line” by using weapons of mass destruction against opposition forces. [8]

Adding injury to insult, as it were, Russian warplanes attacked U.S.-backed rebels with cluster bombs and air-to-ground missiles. The U.S. military, effectively sidelined by the current administrations policy, looked on ineffectually as the Russian air campaign progressed. And it went forward with the assistance of Iraq, which allowed over flights by Russian warplanes through its airspace. [9 & 10]

Thus the situation in the Middle East has changed from one in which the U.S. has gone from exercising a leadership role to being sidelined and relegated to an observer role, functionally impotent to affect the course of events and thus irrelevant to the major players in the region. [11]

In the absence of a U.S. willing and able to maintain and impose at least some semblance of order and continuity in the region, the political terrain and power configurations of the Middle East are undergoing radical changes. Iran and other Shia communities in the region are ramping up their efforts to destabilize the regimes of their regional Sunni competitors, namely Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Thanks in large measure to the covert support of sympathetic Westerners, and Russia and China as well, Iran may soon achieve its longstanding of uniting the Islamic world under Shia rule. [12]

Lately everything seems to be going Iran’s way. Most of the Sunni states of the Middle East are in crisis mode. Egypt is in disarray and has turned once again to Russia for help, a move forced upon by U.S. support for the now-discredited and deeply unpopular Islamic Brotherhood. Yemen is in flames and Saudi Arabia, under pressure from both Iran (via its control of the Persian Gulf and the Straits of Hormuz) and Russia (which controls Saudi gas pipelines in Syria), is on the verge of breaking up. Turkey is descending into chaos–thanks in part to Russian support for Kurdish militants–and there are murmurings that its military is considering action to restore order. Syria is committing suicide by inviting Russia, China, North Korean pilots, Cuban ground forces, and Iranian forces to kill their own citizens; the Kurds are at each other’s throats, as usual; and Iraq, as usual, is ripping itself apart. [13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, & 22]

On the global level, the SCO axis can expand militarily heedless of U.S. preferences and concerns. North Korea on the seventieth anniversary of its founding declared its intention to launch a satellite rocket capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and reportedly threatened Japan, if only obliquely and through back-channels, with a strike. [23 & 24]

Susan Rice and others in the Obama administration have been chattering incessantly about the virtues of the “New Power Relationship” with China. That being the case, is it any wonder that the U.S. is ceding entire regions to the SCO axis without consideration for long-term consequences of allowing human rights in those regions to be eradicated by men with guns? [25 & 26]

The new world order is shaping up to be something far different from the liberal world order envisioned and promoted by the U.S. and its democratic allies over the past century or so. It is expressly hostile to classical liberal values and as such lacks all the hallmarks of the old order’s liberal societies, specifically consensual government, an open economic system, private property rights, the rule of law, equality before the law, freedom of religion and the press, tolerance of dissent, etc. It is more violent, coercive, and aggressive than the old order. [27, 28, 29, 30, 31, & 32]

None of this should be surprising, given its provenance. The new world order is the construct of authoritarian political systems and the autocrats who dominate them. The latter rule their domains with the proverbial rods of iron, employing the instruments of power and repression against internal and external foes alike with violence, ruthlessness, brutality, and application of overwhelming force. [33]

One would think that the murderous acts perpetrated by fundamentalist Muslims against American citizens on American soil would have proven sufficiently instructive to this country’s governing elites to spur them to formulate and implement strategies for dealing with the problem at its Middle Eastern source. But those governing elites seem either unable or unwilling (or both!) to take such instruction much less to act upon it. They dither and dally and wring their hands and utter platitudes about promoting peace in the region–and accomplish nothing. [34]

Check that, they are actually accomplishing something: they are enabling the bad actors in the Middle East to pursue their agendas without meaningful interference from the United States.

NEC-SE hopes that people who value democratic governance will recognize that new world order as envisioned by the SCO axis is fundamentally hostile to the formation and existence of free societies. Nor is a world organized along the SCO’s authoritarian, statist lines conducive to achieving peace and prosperity among the historical nations of the Middle East.

Assyria is one of these historical nations. And although it is presently a nation without a physical home, the Assyrian people have formed a global network—a “virtual nation,” if you will—that cannot and will not be conquered. There is no sovereign Assyrian state. Unless and until that situation changes the Assyrian nation will continue to exist through the Assyrian people. You will not control and conquer a people who have existed for more than 7,000 years-now in a global network-and who consider the Middle East their historical homeland. They are a global nation that the greatest powers in the world cannot dismiss.

The Assyrians are an ancient Middle Eastern people but they are also a modern people. In our time, there was the famous Apple co-founder, chairman, CEO, and resident genius Steven Paul Jobs. Although adopted by Americans, Jobs’ decent was from Homs, Syria-an area once entirely populated by the Syriac Orthodox, a major denomination within Assyrians. But he was not the only talented individual of Assyrian blood. There are many other Assyrian men and women capable of making, after the fashion of Steve Jobs, great contributions and positive changes to the human condition.

If China, Russia, United States, other international and regional players are serious in their stated desire to bring peace to the Middle East, they must set aside their ideological differences and reconcile old resentments and hostilities in order to work as partners to achieve their goal. Above all they must understand that a lasting peace in the Middle East, or anywhere else for that matter, cannot be achieved through violence. It also cannot be built on the marginalization of historic peoples. Even in the days of the first Caliphates was there a strong place for the indigenous Assyrians, who contributed to medicine and the sciences while also translating substantial works from Greek, Assyrian, and other languages to Arabic. Where is the progress and civilizations progression if today’s modern nations cannot incorporate such a people while those of ancient times could? [35]

  36. th-3

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