Empire and identity: A letter to a Chinese friend

Like it or not, China will play an important role in Western Asia, because the imperative of energy security and the rollout of the “One Belt/One Road” require it to do so. As China engages with this unruly region, the seeming irrationality and self-defeating behavior of its minor powers are a source of endless frustration to China, which looks at Western Asia through the rational eyes of commercial interest, and offers investments on the grand scale that stand to benefit all of its states.

When we last spoke some months ago in Beijing, Turkey’s President Erdogan infuriated you. Turkey meddled where it had no competence—in nuclear negotiations with Iran, with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, with Hamas in Gaza, with ISIS in Syria, and with Uyghur rebels in China’s Xinjiang province. Not long from now, I predict, you will be furious at Iran’s meddling in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and perhaps Azerbaijan. Why, China asks, do the petty pretenders to empire in Western Asia risk their own well-being with adventures of this sort?

  • luna

    The State of Israel was created by a United Nations mandate, accepted by the Jews and rejected by the Arabs. The 1947-1948 war led to an exchange of populations (700,000 Arabs left Jewish-held territory, and 800,000 Jews left Arab countries from Morocco to Yemen), similar to the Greek-Turkish exchange of the 1920s, the India-Pakistan exchange of 1947, and many similar events). That should have been the end of the matter. The Arab nations refused to assimilate the Arab refugees of 1947 and kept them segregated as political hostages, demanding their return to the Jewish zone, as well as the return of all of their descendants. That of course would liquidate the Jewish State, and that is why all the peace negotiations between Israel and Palestinian Arabs have foundered: a peace compatible with the continued existence of the Jewish state was never on the table.

  • Norman_In_New_York

    We need more of Goldman’s wisdom.