ObergComment: How the West lost Iran to China and others – and why

ObergComment: How the West lost Iran to China and others – and why

📌 We know that many of our readers would like to see some short, pointed posts here. So, in contrast to the longer, more analytical articles we usually publish – normal for an academic institution – an Oberg Comment is a short text by the editor of The Transnational, Jan Oberg, which alerts you to one or two main points, offers some informative links for self-study or is simply a recommendation or “MustRead/Watch” with lasting educative value. Since they will be maximum 600 words, they are also easier to use for the media. We hope you will like the format too.

July 21, 2020

Some may remember way back when US President Obama said that the US had now isolated Iran. The only problem was that on the very same day, some 130 leaders from the Non-Aligned Movement, NAM, were meeting in Tehran.

The more the US withdraws from international treaties, imposes sanctions, threatens wars and otherwise antagonizes the rest of the world, the more that rest will search – and find – new partners and create a future world order that is not Western- or US-dominated.

That’s what Iran is now doing.

After sanctions since 1979, verbal harassment, a broken JCPOA (nuclear deal), accusations of being the world’s leading supporter of terrorism, maximal pressure policies, threat of massive war, bombings, liquidation of a top government representative, infiltrations and much else – why on earth should the leaders in Tehran (no matter what you may think about them and their policies) continue to seek cooperation with the US and the EU – the latter, spinelessly, for all practical purposes violating the JCPOA and UN SC resolutions by submitting to US secondary sanctions being implemented in EU countries and thus suffocating Iran’s 85 million inhabitants?

Iran’s leaders would be fools if they kept on seeking co-operation with the West and only that. But they are not fools and they understand the West much better than the West understands Iran.

The Western press has hardly told you about it, but Iran and China have concluded a comprehensive civilian and military 25-year cooperation plan to the tune of no less than US$ 400 billion.

It’s a significant example of how a new world order is emerging. And how your mainstream “free” media omits important news that doesn’t fit the Western narrative and dominance.

The US/Western world that is now sliding into a Cold War with China for no good reasons – both countries and the world have everything to win from cooperation – will tell you that China is expanding and wants to dominate the world.

But that’s nonsense.

Much closer to the truth is that one fruit after the other is falling – ripe from disappointments and anger about unfair treatment and harassment – from the Western tree to the Chinese ground, e.g. to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Had the EU had any action capacity to speak with one voice, it would today be the de facto leader of the West, the partner the rest of the world, including Iran, felt it could talk sensibly with. But it doesn’t have such a capacity – indeed perhaps less so than before.

It may also never get there if you think of the failure to act as a union (that is, unified) when facing challenges such as refugees coming in 2015, the Brexit, failure to develop a cohesive common policy vis-a-vis Iran and other Middle East issues, a common security with Russia and, now, the nationalist response to the Corona where it could not even help a fellow member like the particularly hard-hit Italy.

It is easier to blame China than to take a look at oneself and one’s own miserable policy failures and problem-denials.

And, to conclude, do not forget that the US/Western treatment of Iran since the CIA-led coup d’etat in 1953 against Iran’s democratically elected Mossadegh government has been hurtful to the West itself. This sanctions are hard on Iran, yes, but to not have economic transactions with Iran also cost tremendous sums.

Enigmatically, the US isn’t declining and falling because anybody threatens its survival. It happens as a consequence of US policies, because of a counterproductive mixture of paranoia, militarism, exceptionalism, hubris and blowbacks from a serial interventionist/war policies over decades. And combine those features with a lack of leadership and a longterm vision…

Here are some links for the reader’s own study of the new Iran-China developments and their background:

Simon Watkins, OilPrice.com
China inks military deal with Iran under secretive 25-year plan.

Patrick Lawrence in Consortium News
Cold War escapades in the Pacific

Juan Cole, Informed Comment
How Trump lost Iran to China: 25-Year ‘Lion-Dragon Deal’ makes Iran part of One Belt, One Road

Marjorie Cohn, Transcend
Trump’s harsh sanctions lead to Iran-China partnership

James Dorsey, National University of Singapore
Turning Gulf security upside down

Suzi Taherian, Forbes
US continues retreat from global stage as China-Iran forge a 25-year deal

Iran’s Zarif says ending arms embargo ‘inseparable’ from nuclear deal

Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, at the UN, June 30, 2020
Before the United Nations Security Council
“Non-Proliferation: implementation of Security Council resolution 2231 (2015)”

Some 300 articles about Iran on The Transnational.

And here some examples of what can be done – and should never have been done:

Paul R. Pillar, Andrew Bacevich, Annelle Sheline and Trita Parsi at The Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft
A New U.S. Paradigm for the Middle East: Ending America’s Misguided Policy of Domination

If you found this relevant and informative, please reward TFF with the equivalent of a cup of coffee…

4 Responses to "ObergComment: How the West lost Iran to China and others – and why"

  1. JO   July 23, 2020 at 12:07 pm

    Dear Farhang – thanks a lot for coming back with more clarifications, all of which I agree on. Had the US played completely different cards the past almost 70 years with Iran, it could have been a mutually beneficial, cooperative and peaceful relationship today. But, the US is unable not to “missionise” and master and threaten whomever it pleases – and the boomerang is now coming back: The rest of the world won’t accept it any longer and the US meets resistance to which it has no intelligent politico-diplomatic response. For those of us who always admired a lot of features about the US society and culture, it is truly tragic.
    Our little conversation here illustrates another very important point – and one we want to promote here in The Transnational: How delightful and effective dialogue is in contrast to quarrels and “debates” that the world and the media are so full of. My best, Jan

  2. F Jahanpour   July 23, 2020 at 11:02 am

    Dear Jan, I agree 100% with the points that you made in your excellent article. My point was not about what you said there but about the arrogant remarks by some US pundits and politicians who have argued that the United States should prevent Iran’s rapprochement with China because it seems to them that Iran belongs to the United States as a matter of right.

    My point was that the era when some powerful countries could owe smaller ones and could exploit them to the full in the way that the United States uses the current Saudi regime is over. Sovereign states take decisions that suit them, and others should get used to it. If the United States and the West as a whole wish to have access to Iran’s lucrative market they should befriend Iran not demonise and sanction it and expect that it would crawl back to them begging.

    In the face of the xenophobic and dangerous attitude that has developed in the West under Trump, and the Cold War that they are initiating against both China and Russia, it is necessary for other countries to get together in order to prevent the current slide to war. I believe that Europe could facilitate a new detente between Russia & the West because, after all, historically & culturally Russia is part of the West. Many people in Europe feel greater affinity with Russian literature, ballet, music and way of life than they do with an isolationist and supremacist United States. However, in order to achieve that goal, European countries should regain their independence and should learn to act as sovereign states, rather than as US colonies.

  3. JO   July 22, 2020 at 10:15 pm

    Dear Farhang – many thanks! You are, of course, absolutely right in saying that Iran does not belong to anyone but Iran. And I agree about 110% with the rest of your comment above.
    What I have in mind in using the word “lose” is equivalent to losing a friend or partner or admirer, actual or potential. I believe, as I am also saying, that it is very understandable if/that Iran feels it has had enough of Western arrogance, threats, sanctions etc. and lack of respect for agreements and international law, including the UN Charter’s provisions.
    I guess that is the way Juan Cole is using “lost” too.
    Concerning what is known about this hugely important Iran-China deal, Simon Watkins article above in particular gives us more than a hint. I am sure you and I will follow closely whatever more will be revealed in the future. My best – Jan

  4. F Jahanpour   July 22, 2020 at 8:03 pm

    The West or the United States did not lose Iran to China. It did not belong to the West to begin with. Like any other independent country, Iran is entitled to make economic deals with any country that are mutually beneficial. After the signing of the nuclear deal, Iran opened its market to the West with orders for hundreds of billions worth of aircraft and other equipment and many oil deals. Trump’s violation of the deal and imposing illegal extraterritorial sanctions on Iran, and Europe’s blind surrender to the current ultra-rightwing US administration have forced Iran to look elsewhere for its economic development.

    Not a great deal is known yet about the details of the deal, but the Iranians are shrewd businessmen and are good at making deals, and I am sure they will make deals with China that will benefit both countries. It’s time for Europe to stop behaving like a US colony and obey any US order, as UK has done in the case of Huawei reversing an earlier agreement to involve Huawei in its G5 network. The time when the United States could act as a global hegemon is over, and it’s time they and the Europeans woke up to this fact. The rest of the world knows it already.


To promote dialogue, write your appreciation, disagreement, questions or add stuff/references that will help others learn more...

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.