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Diplomats say that China has provided Iran's nuclear weapons plans to the UN.
In a surprising move, China appears to be cooperating with the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in its investigation of Iran's nuclear development plans, and has provided it with Iran's nuclear plans. The exact nature of the information hasn't been made public, but it's believed to be related to the development of nuclear weapons and associated missile delivery systems.
China's change of heart may have occurred because China was caught red-handed. Documents confiscated from Iran in February by the IAEA indicate China was supplying Iran with information on manufacturing nuclear-armed weapons.
Several web site readers have written to me expressing concern that the Bush administration is about to invade Iran. These fears have been fostered by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as well as by paranoic journalists, led by Seymour Hersh, who believes that the American armed forces are Nazi thugs. Hersh, in particular, has been building a career for several years out of predicting an imminent American invasion of Iran.
This story of China's supposed "betrayal" of Iran gives us an opportunity to do a generational analysis of the relationship between China and Iran.
On this web site, I've done generational analyses of the strategies of different countries. In this case, we'll be attempting a comparative strategy. This exercise is of theoretical interest to generational theory because Iran is in a generational Awakening era, while China is entering a generational Crisis era.
In particular, we want to speculate on Iran's place in the coming world realignment. Readers may have noticed that I talk about a new "axis," consisting of China, Pakistan, Bangladesh and North Korea, versus the "allies," America, the UK, Russia, India and Japan, but that Iran is conspicuously missing from both the "axis" and "allies" list. We'll explore the meaning of China's "betrayal" of Iran on that question.
We will focus on the following four issues:
China is entering a generational Crisis era, and has been almost coming apart at the seams for a few years. China is headed for a secular civil war, as I wrote in 2005. In March, 2007, Chinese premier Wen Jiabao said that China is "unsteady, unbalanced, uncoordinated and unsustainable."
It's hard to overestimate the increasing severity of China's internal problems in recent weeks and months:
This is potentially a very explosive issue in China. Tens of millions of people have mortgaged their homes, borrowed money from friends and relatives, and invested every penny they could get hold of in the stock market, in order to take advantage of the bubble. Now they're watching their assets disappear.
Shanghai's stock market bubble appeared close to bursting a year ago, and a brief tumble caused a mini-panic on Wall Street on February 27. The Shanghai market recovered and the bubble resumed, but now the market has fallen almost 50% from its peak, late in 2007.
China has always been very closely allied with Pakistan, almost since its founding, but President Pervez Musharraf's fight against al-Qaeda terrorism is supported by both the West and China.
In Iran's largest and most violent protests yet, nephew of opposition leader is killed: Iranian police fired on protesters on Sunday,... (28-Dec-2009)
Iran fails to smash student protests, as the Dubai crisis batters its economy: Huge peaceful student protests in cities across Iran were met with violence... (9-Dec-2009)
Theological split in Iran widens as opposition protests continue: The Islamic Republic of Iran versus the Persian Republic of Iran.... (9-Nov-2009)
Iran plays a grand game in international nuclear weapons talks: Will she or won't she?... (26-Oct-2009)
Furious Iran blames Pakistan, US and Britain for Sunday's terrorist attacks: Iran's Revolutionary Guards vow revenge.... (22-Oct-2009)
Big Iran street protests greet Ahmadinejad's fiery denunciations of Israel: Iran's political crisis continues to grow, as the college year begins.... (19-Sep-2009)
Escalating civil war in Yemen threatens to pull in Iran, Saudi Arabia and U.S.: Last week, President Obama said we would help Yemen in its "fight against terrorism,"... (13-Sep-2009)
New Iran demonstrations commemorate the student protests of July 9, 1999: Hardline Iranian mullahs had thought that they had crushed the demonstrations ... (10-Jul-2009)
Ayatollah Ali Khamanei relives his childhood, as Iran arrests UK Embassy employees: Following a week of massacres, protestors have taken to the rooftops,... (28-Jun-2009)
Iran's Khamenei appears desperate, as reports of Tehran massacres grow: An amazing generational battle is proceeding in Iran.... (26-Jun-2009)
A generational explanation of Iran's political crisis: What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object?... (23-Jun-2009)
Iran's government panics, as Supreme Leader hints at violence against protesters: Friday's speech by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was a significant escalation... (20-Jun-2009)
Iran: Violent street demonstrations follow Ahmadinejad's landslide election victory: Opposition supporters are claiming massive election fraud,... (14-Jun-2009)
President Obama casts a vote against Iran's President Ahmadinejad: Can reformist Mir-Hossein Musavi beat Ahmadinejad in the June 12 elections?... (22-Mar-2009)
Stock markets in Iraq and Iran are surging.: Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says "it is the end of capitalism."... (17-Oct-2008)
Wall Street Journal describes Iran's generational Awakening era: Young Iranians turn away from the Quran and go for self-help and New Age.... (1-Jul-2008)
Israel conducts mock attack on Iran: The rumor mill is predicting a real attack.... (21-Jun-2008)
China "betrays" Iran, as internal problems in both countries mount: Diplomats say that China has provided Iran's nuclear weapons plans to the UN.... (5-Apr-08)
Iranian speedboats threaten to blow up US ships in Gulf of Hormuz: Question: Why did Iran do it?... (9-Jan-08)
Students at Tehran University risk protest against Ahmadinejad: When Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke at Columbia University... (8-Oct-07)
Iran's President Ahmadinejad facing a growing "generation gap": Gas rationing and restrictions on women are infuriating the college-age generation.... (2-Jul-07)
Iranian police swoop down on women with loose headscarves: Sorry, I just can't stop laughing at this one.... (25-Apr-07)Iraqi Sunnis are turning against al-Qaeda in Iraq : This is exactly the kind of thing that generational theory predicts. (1-Apr-2007)
Iran hostage crisis grows increasingly dangerous: This is comparable to the 1962 Cuban missile crisis.... (31-Mar-07)
An Iranian scholar says that Tom and Jerry cartoons are a Jewish conspiracy: Professor Hasan Bolkhari is loonier than Ahmadinejad.... (29-Mar-07)
Iran is using cartoons to fight decline in anti-Americanism: Anti-Americanism has been declining in Iran for ten years,... (24-Mar-07)
Iran and Russia increasingly at odds over Iran's nuclear development: Saying that Moscow "will not play anti-American games" with Iran,... (17-Mar-07)
The U.S. vs Iran debate may be unifying the Iraqis: Iraqis don't want interference from either America or Iran.... (2-Feb-07)
Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad holds two-day Holocaust denial conference: He says that Israel "will soon be wiped out."... (13-Dec-06)
Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad threatens Europe and Israel: He also says he has a "connection with God"... (20-Oct-06)
Iran test fires submarine to surface missile in the massive "Blow of Zolfaqar" military games: Iran (like China) continues rapid militarization, while confrontation over nuclear development looms.... (28-Aug-06)
Iran and Ahmadinejad are waiting for the Mahdi: Most people know about the belief by Christian fundamentalists about the Second Coming of Christ,... (22-Aug-06)
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a very charismatic leader: In his 60 Minutes interview, he was witty, charming, confident and deadly.... (14-Aug-06)
Iranian representatives witnessed North Korea's July 4 missile tests: According to Assistant Secretary of State Chris Hill,... (21-Jul-06)
Allah Akbar!! Ahmadinejad announces that Iran is enriching uranium: Clearly trying to provoke an Israeli or American military attack on Iran,... (13-Apr-06)
State of the Union speech displays continuing misreading of Iran: It's wishful thinking to believe that an overthrow of the Mullahs is coming.... (1-Feb-06)
Europe resigns itself to a nuclear Iran: Defiant Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad continues to lead Iran to be the regional superpower,... (16-Jan-06)
Iran appears to be positioning itself as a post-war superpower: Iran restarts its nuclear enrichment program while calling for Israel's removal.... (11-Jan-06)
Iran will set up a "love fund": Iran's new president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, plans a billion dollar fund... (31-Aug-05)
Feminism flourishes in Iran, as the international crisis on nuclear weapons intensifies: Iran's new president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, named a hardline Islamist cabinet on Sunday,... (15-Aug-05)
Iran's plan to develop nuclear fuel is "irreversible": France calls it a "major international crisis"... (3-Aug-05)
Ultraconservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wins Iran Presidential election: I try to find humor wherever I can for this serious web site, and with this guy it's easy.... (25-Jun-05)
Iran holding chaotic runoff election on Friday: Iran and Iraq are generational twins, and their elections show it.... (23-Jun-05)
Iran: Tehran University student unrest is building against the government: "Moderate" President Mohammad Khatami blamed the hard-line Muslim clerics... (8-Dec-04)
Iran moves forward with developing nuclear weapons technology: Iran has indicated that it won't budge on its plans to develop nuclear enrichment technology,... (22-Oct-04)Iraq Today vs 1960s America (Revised): They have much in common: Bombings, assassinations, student demonstrations, violent riots, calls for insurrection and civil war and harsh rhetoric. That's much more than a coincidence. (8-May-2004)
Riots in Iran: Will there be a violent overthrow of the Iranian Mullahs? Generational Dynamics says 'No.' (25-Jun-03)
Everything in China is geared toward the summer Olympics games. When the games end, there will be an enormous letdown. We will have to see how China reacts to the above list of crises at a time when it no longer cares what the world thinks.
As the world approaches the Clash of Civilizations world war, China is going to be allied with Pakistan and Bangladesh against India and Russia in central Asia. It's very hard to see how Iran fits into that picture.
Unlike China, which is in a generational Crisis era, Iran is in a generational Awakening era, since only one generation has passed since the genocidal Islamic Revolution in 1979, followed by the Iran/Iraq war in the 1980s. This means that Iran's "mood" is significantly different from China's "mood," which would make it very hard for them to understand each other's motivations.
As we described last year, "Iran's President Ahmadinejad is facing a growing 'generation gap,'" as he pursues an Awakening era strategy:
The older generation, the survivors of the Islamic Revolution, generally favor hardline Islamic law, believing that it's the way to avoid another genocidal war.
The younger generation, especially college students, are demonstrating and rebelling against the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Demonstrations particularly target the rapidly deteriorating economic conditions, as well as the police raids on women with loose headscarves.
In order to achieve this objective, they've adopted the strategy of provoking an external attack from the US or Israel.
The best that can be said about Ahmadinejad's policies is that they've been irrational. There is absolutely no way that the Sunni Arabs or Taliban will ever permit themselves to be governed by Shia Iran. Hamas is willing to take Iran's money and Iran's weapons, but when choices must be made, Hamas will never choose Iran as their leaders. In other words, Ahmadinejad is simply wasting his money.
Nonetheless, Iran remains a dangerous wild card in the Mideast, as Ahmadinejad becomes about as unpopular in Iran today as Richard Nixon was in the 1960s and 1970s America.
Comparing the strategies of two countries that are at different points in the generational timeline has been an interesting exercise from a theoretical point of view, because it illustrates how incongruous the "moods" of the two different countries are.
If you read through the strategies of China and Iran in the previous sections, it very quickly becomes clear that they have almost no strategic goals in common -- except a general wish to oppose the United States ("the enemy of my enemy is my friend").
The contrast between Iran and China can be demonstrated by both countries' relationship with Pakistan:
Now add a potential Iranian nuclear weapon into this mix, and you really see the problem: Iran would like to have nuclear capabilities in order to be a regional superpower, and paranoid China would fear that Iran will give nuclear weapons to al-Qaeda terrorists.
So, China didn't really "betray" Iran, because there are really no common interests to betray. China was willing to support Iran's nuclear development as long as doing so simply annoyed the West, but that support stops when China's own interests are at risk.
Whenever I've talked about Iran on this web site, I've always mentioned how the country is an internal contradiction. The government and mullahs are anti-American and anti-Israel, while the people, especially the young people, are much more pro-Western, and really don't have anything against Israel. In fact, young Iranians are probably much more politically opposed to the Iranian government than to the American government.
From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, when I analyze any country, I always have to focus on the attitudes and behaviors of the great masses of people, not on the attitudes of a small group of politicians. And so I have to conclude that since young Iranians are generally pro-Western, it follows that Iran is going to be pro-Western when a choice is forced upon them. This is not a sure thing at this point, but the trend is definitely in that direction.
As the "Clash of Civilizations" world war approaches, and Iran is forced to choose sides, their initial choice will be to stay out of it as long as possible. This means that they'll avoid the use of their own army, and they'll try to keep the war off Iranian soil. If a choice is forced, I think it's more likely to be an alignment with the West.
What about the original question: Is America about to attack Iran?
I read the same news stories that everyone else does, and I see no evidence of it. If there were any preparations going on, the New York Times and the BBC would be all over it.
When writing about China in the preceding sections, I used words like "paranoia," "anxiety" and "panic" in describing China's mood.
The same words can be used to describe America's mood and Israel's mood. On the one hand, you have the paranoic reporters talking about an imminent invasion. On the other hand, you have the possibility that anxiety and panic will lead to some kind of bombing attack on Iran's nuclear facilities, just as panic led Israel to declare war on Hizbollah in Lebanon in 2006.
We can't predict the actions of individual politicians, so the most we can say is this: The reasons given by those reporters who are claiming that an attack is imminent are completely wrong; if an attack does occur, it will be a panicked reaction to Iran's perceived nuclear buildup.
That's speculation. What is certain, however, is that China's
so-called "betrayal" of Iran reveals cracks in their relationship
that will not be healed any time soon.
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