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China May Flip Against Iran

By James Lewis

The NoKo Bomb is very bad news for the world, but it's worst for the closest neighbors: China, South Korea and Japan. China in particular was shocked when its "client" state turned vicious and bit its sponsor.

The recent NoKo Bomb triggered unusual common resolve in China's biggest enemies, particularly Japan and Taiwan, who are thinking about making their own WMDs. If they do, China's biggest goals will be set back, perhaps permanently.

The Chinese are still enraged at Japan for its World War Two crimes, and the last thing they want is a Japanese Bomb. So the Chinese are very upset, which is they why they voted for the first time for sanctions against Kim in the UN Security Council. They are now talking "regime change" in Pyongyang, a possible military coup, and the value of stability, showing that they finally get it.

What about Iran? China would love to see the United States being shown up for a paper tiger. They have oil interests in Iran. Normally they would want to encourage rogue regimes to make trouble for the US on the other side of the world. The trouble is that Iran and North Korea have been working hand-in-hand on weapons that endanger China along with everybody else. In a global environment, geographical distance means zilch. Thus the idea of splitting American defenses between Iranian and North Korean rogue states is meaningless. It's only fifteen minutes by ICBM, hours by B-2 bomber, and a matter of days to transport significant quantities of enriched uranium from Pyongyang to Tehran.

China has its own radical Islamists, the restless Ughuirs. Beijing doesn't want a bloody Chechnyan rebellion, or its own intifada, like the one foolish France is now experiencing. It especially doesn't want an Islamofascist Pakistan on its borders, armed with nukes and ICBMs and run by expansionist martyrs.

For all these reasons, Iran has suddenly landed on China's doorstep as a real problem. NoKo is bad enough. Now the whole sane world has two rogues on its hands, with more bizzarros like Hugo Chavez eager to join the fray.

For the United States, the sudden Chinese shock is a move in the right direction. It may mean a serious attempt to pressure North Korea, that pathetic state, and ultimately to slow or set back nuke development there. Beijing just had a deathbed conversion, but better late than never.

What about the Russians? Vladimir Putin doesn't get it yet. During the Hezbo War the Russians helped Hezb'allah and its sponsors with real-time intelligence on Israeli movements. Just before the overthrow of Saddam, the Russians helped move Iraqi WMD materials to the Bekaa Valley. And of course Putin's kleptocracy was a big beneficiary of Saddam's generosity in Oil for Food.

It's not that Putin wants Islamist fanatics next door in Iran. He instinctively fears them, because the Russians have fought Islamic aggression for a thousand years. But Putin has his own jihadi rebellion to worry about in Chechnya. It seems likely that Ahmadinejad has promised to do his part to hold down the jihadis in Chechnya as long as the Russians support his nuclear program. Like the Chinese, Russia also has oil interests in Iran. So Russia has been pursuing a cynical French-style policy, playing both sides against each other and stealing as much oil and as many bribes as possible in the process.

The chances of American victory figure heavily among all these players. If the US looks like winning, they will go with us. If it seems as if Ahmadinejad will win, they will stay out and appease the fanatics as long as they can, pointing to the Big and Little Satans as targets while they shrink into the background. It's a despicable policy, but there is no question that France and Russia have been pursuing it.

The trouble is that appeasement emboldens fanatics; and soon, Moscow and Paris will be within range of Tehran's nukes. If the major stable nations took a united stand against rogue states, they could improve matters for the entire world. Instead, they have been tacitly allowing nuke proliferation out of sheer short-sighted envy of the United States. But Moscow and Paris are cutting off their noses to spite their faces. In years to come they will regret their cowardice. It is ultimately suicidal for Russia, China, and Europe to do what they have been doing.

So China's sudden understanding that NoKo nukes next door are a mortal danger means a step in the right direction. If the Russians and Europeans get it as well, a common front against Kim and Ahmadinejad may become possible.

And that may save all of our necks.

James Lewis is a frequent contributor for The American Thinker.

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