As adamantly as U.S. and British diplomats like Secretary of State Kerry and Foreign Minister William Hague unequivocally insist on the need to attack Syria as punishment for using chemical weapons, Russian, Chinese and Iranian diplomats are just as adamant that such an attack is not based on the facts and would cause more harm than good – particularly to their interests. This editorial from China’s state-run Huanqiu points out that with U.S. power at a low ebb, and Russia and China growing in influence, a united front has a better chance than ever of preventing a U.S. attack, and bolstering China’s prestige.
The Huanqiu editorial says in part:
America’s influence was far greater when it launched air strikes in the last century, and now, Russia and China are much more resolutely opposed to its use of force. While Washington’s global influence is declining, Russia is recovering its national strength, and China’s influence is climbing. Although the two are not in direct confrontation with the West, their warnings about a strike, which are becoming increasingly hard to ignore, make the West’s job of building support for the endeavor far more difficult.
The Americans are most likely to use air strikes to assist the Syrian opposition, which has been in retreat for some time now. Air strikes can certainly play a role in such a strategy. In Syria, however, it would never have been as easy as it was in Libya to bring a complete reversal on the battlefield. In addition, the air strikes against Qaddafi went on for quite some time, given that they were conducted under a U.N.-authorized no-fly zone. If the Syrian raid is deemed illegal, it will be difficult to sustain for long.
Those forces around the world that oppose military intervention should unite as far as possible to prevents U.S. and British air strikes against Syria. If the strikes cannot be prevented, help for the Syrian government to resist should be provided. Furthermore, Russian and Iran must consider providing Damascus with direct military aid. As the countries with the most to lose in the event of a Syrian collapse, the two have little choice but to strongly oppose military intervention in Syria.
China is not carrying the banner on the Syria issue, but it certainly must express its attitude on a possible Western strike more clearly than ever. The strategic benefits this brings is more important to Beijing than the risk of friction with the West, particularly since the West is gradually targeting China as the “biggest potential threat.” The Syrian crisis is unlikely to alter China’s strategic relations with the West, but will help consolidate trust in China in other countries.
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