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China is about to eat America’s lunch in the Middle East

PARIS — China signed a 25-year, $400 billion cooperation agreement with Iran late last month that could result in Chinese bases in the Middle East and increase Beijing’s global economic hegemony. All because the Washington establishment couldn’t bring itself to stop drinking its own anti-Iran Kool-Aid.

There are few special-interest causes in Washington as persistent as the anti-Iran lobby. Journalists are regularly bombarded with rhetorically loaded press releases, statements and op-eds from think tanks and former establishment fixtures about the so-called dangers of even engaging with the Iranian “regime” — which would simply be labeled a “government” if these insiders weren’t so hell-bent on marginalizing Tehran because perhaps one day it could have nukes.

Meanwhile, these same anti-Iran critics — better known as neoconservatives, whose identity is rooted in 1960s leftist interventionism, which has now infected both sides of the political aisle — don’t seem to mind that Iran is surrounded by foes that are already well-equipped in that regard. Israel has nuclear weapons, and it’s widely assumed that Saudi Arabia does, too.

Look, if the Iranians ever did manage to develop a nuclear weapon, it’s not like Iran could ever use it without being turned into a parking lot by the U.S. and Israel. Why does everyone in Washington assume that Iran is that suicidal?

Neoconservatives probably don’t believe that. They’re simply naive, or misinformed, or deliberately lying, or in the pocket of special interests funded by one Iran’s regional foes.

While Washington has kowtowed to neocon puppets and their foreign string-pullers, China has been busy stealing America’s lunch. Iran has long been a key part of China’s plan to expand its economic imperialism through its Belt and Road Initiative. Blocking China from making this move would have been as easy as a 5-year-old placing an “X” at the end of a row in a game of tic-tac-toe. With regard to Iran, America has scored an own goal in its ongoing matchup with China.

Why doesn’t China care about Iran’s nuclear potential as much as the U.S. does? Some might answer that China isn’t a target of Iran’s ire, while America is. But why is the U.S. so much more fearful of Iran when it’s on the opposite side of the planet, whereas China, which is almost next door, not only shrugs it off but considers Iran a potential military partner?

Iran could have become a strategic partner of the U.S. after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Most of the terrorists responsible for those attacks were from Saudi Arabia, which is Iran’s sworn enemy. Instead, the U.S. buddied up to the nation from which most of the terrorists hailed, invaded Afghanistan and overstayed its welcome so long that Iran started to think that it was turning into a foreign occupation.

China doesn’t have the same complicated history of Middle East military adventurism, which the U.S. has long used as a lever to pry open the door to the ultimate goal of expanding its economic footprint. Ginning up conflict, crying about the humanitarian need for military intervention, then going in and overthrowing the bad guy and installing a puppet who’ll help the U.S. conduct business there and turn a profit: That’s the well-worn blueprint. China is upending that model by going straight to the last step.

Not only will China benefit from doing business with a resource-rich nation with an educated population whose literacy rate has exploded in recent years, but it will create a new foothold for China — not just economically but militarily. Have U.S. leaders considered the full implications of this? China and Russia, whose space agencies are linked to their militaries, announced plans last month to build a joint base on the moon. What makes anyone think they won’t cooperate with Iran to counter the many U.S. bases in the Middle East?

Normalizing relations with Iran in light of the existential threat of Chinese economic dominance was one of the few praise-worthy accomplishments of former President Barack Obama’s administration. Then, Donald Trump canceled Obama’s Iran policy when Trump bought into the neocon propaganda himself. It’s inexcusable that establishment Washington is still giving in to the warped mindset of neocons, to the detriment of much more critical American interests.

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