20 Jul '15     home | more politics

Iran and the China Analogy

The Obama administration has sent the Iran deal to Congress, and media advertising campaigns by those for and against the Iran deal are being prepared. Meanwhile, President Nixon's opening to China has been mentioned by those favoring the deal.

Nixon visited China while it was supporting those Vietnamese making war against US forces in Vietnam. China increased its aid to Hanoi in the wake of the Nixon-Kissinger visit. Nixon explained his move to the US public, saying that China and the United States had "great differences, that "we will have differences in the future," but "we can have differences without being enemies in war."

Nixon was trying to exploit the on-going dispute between China and the Soviet Union, and he is described as having had three objectives: to settle the Taiwan issue, a peaceful settlement of the Vietnam War, and to limit the Soviet Union's sphere of influence. Nixon also spoke of building a bridge across the Pacific to the Communist regime, which brings to mind the issue of trade.

China benefited from the improved relations. The Taiwan issue was settled. The US was out of Vietnam in 1975 and the two countries began trading. The question remains whether the recent deal with Iran – against Iran acquiring a nuclear weapons capability – can contribute to a safer world.

A couple of days ago Iran's supreme leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenie, spoke of US policy in the Middle East running counter to Iran strategy, that Iran will continue to support its allies in the Middle East including the Lebanese, Hezbollah, Palestinian resistance groups and the Syrian government. He said that Iran's policy toward the US "won't change at all." That is a little more belligerent toward the US than Mao and his colleagues were in 1972.

Khamenie spoke of the deal with Washington (and Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany) as limited to the nuclear issue and that there can't be any dialogue or deal with the US over any other issues. Then he contradicted himself and said that the door to other issues could open should the US carry out its obligations under the deal in good faith.

Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal warns that we should not expect Iran in ten or fifteen years to change as China did in its transition from Mao Zedong to Dao Xiaoping.

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