Archive for December 1st, 2011

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Chinese War Hero: Third Party, Third World War

Yes, I know why an old Zhang-Zhaozhong related post of mine is currently among the top posts. Zhang Zhaozhong (张召忠 / Zhāng Zhàozhōng), a professor with the National Defense University (国防大学)  told a Chinese television audience that “China would not hesitate to protect Iran with a third world war” if the West should launch an attack on the Islamic Republic.

But then, while we’ve heard American and British officials say that “all options are on the table”, even the Economist, which was quite supportive of the invasion of Iraq some eight years ago, described in one of its most recent editions why military options didn’t look like convincing:

Yet the arguments against an attack are still overwhelming, even for Israel. A sustained bombing campaign would take weeks and set off a firestorm in the Middle East, with Iran counter-attacking Israel through its proxies. It would do nothing to help regime change in Tehran. The economic consequences could be catastrophic. And to what end? A successful campaign would still only delay Iran, not stop it. The technical difficulties for Israel’s armed forces of carrying out such a broad mission over such a long time are immense. Indeed, the suspicion is that Mr Netanyahu would be betting that what Israel started, America would feel forced to finish.

Barack Obama should make it very clear to Mr Netanyahu that he would not do that. At the same time, he should pursue two courses: pushing sanctions, on the one hand, and preparing for a nuclear-armed Iran on the other.

I’m too busy to look Zhang’s statement up in the Chinese media now. But what I do know is that the professor’s statement  – even if correctly quoted in our media – doesn’t spell a binding Chinese commitment to defend Iran – and as long as an attack on Iran isn’t seriously on the cards anyway, any third party can easily threaten a third world war over it, and try to become a celebrated anti-imperialist hero in the Middle East.

But above all, some people at home, in front of their television sets, will feel very important.

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Related

» Russia warns West, Reuters, December 1, 2011

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