✪ On Monday, China’s state-run Global Times boasted Chinese companies are now taking a leading role in the reconstruction of Iraq, making money and spreading Beijing’s influence in a country the United States spent blood and treasure to liberate from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein two decades ago…
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everal times during the article, the authors stressed that China views Iraqi reconstruction as “more than just a brick-and-mortar exercise,” but a way to spread China’s political and cultural influence under the rubric of helping Iraqis realize their “hopes and dreams.”
“These Chinese companies are involved in a wide range of reconstruction efforts across Iraq, covering different areas including infrastructure development, the upgrading of transportation systems, home and community reconstruction, and the building of new schools,” the Global Times wrote.
Chinese managers such as Wu Lin of Tianjin International Marine Engineering Co., which is spearheading an Iraqi port project seen as part of China’s Belt and Road Infrastructure Initiative (BRI), are making an effort to exploit the lingering resentments of Iraqis over the U.S. invasion:
According to Wu, since the port is located right where the American army landed 20 years ago, the project has faced many challenges. “There are still bombs left around the area,” he said. “We still have to scan the seabed before we start our work to avoid bombs.”
The legacy of war in Iraq goes far beyond undetonated explosive devices and stretches to occasional turmoil, chaotic social management, as well as apathy among the local population.
“Iraq has a long and rich history and civilization, but the country was ruined by wars in past decades,” Wu told the Global Times. “I have met many hardworking and honest locals here. Those who work on our project work very hard without complaints, wishing to change their country’s situation as soon as possible.”
Of course, China’s agents did not bother to tell their new Iraqi friends that under China’s idea of amoral foreign policy, Saddam Hussein and his bestial sons would still be tossing them into torture chambers, while Beijing happily did business with the murderous dictator and his heirs.
In addition to the port project, the Global Times extolled Chinese contracts to build power plants, schools, transportation systems, and commercial and residential construction. One Chinese manager said he saw more Chinese-made cars in Iraq than any other foreign country.
Another Global Times op-ed on Monday harangued the U.S. for invading Iraq after 9/11 and called for former American policymakers to be “held accountable” as the old U.S. “hegemony” crumbles:
The so-called democracy or “checks and balance” of the US political system cannot prevent Washington from making reckless decisions based on fraud, lies or manipulated public opinion, and this has brought devastating disasters to countries like Iraq, Libya, Syria and Afghanistan, while the military industrial complex and some senior US politicians including some former presidents, are the ones that benefited from the wars, analysts said.
In past decades, the West-launched invasions, interventions and proxy wars have led to chaos, deaths and poverty, which together formed a fertile “breeding ground” for terrorism, analysts said. This also proves that Washington’s “Greater Middle East Initiative” to Westernize the region has also completely failed.
What is even more disturbing to the international community is that although the wars launched by the US have caused frequent and endless chaos in the Middle East and other regions worldwide, and seriously damaged the right to survival and development of the local people, it seems the US leaders have never worried they would be prosecuted for the wars they launched overseas. In fact, the US has never accepted the International Criminal Court’s jurisdiction over its nationals.
The Global Times did not mention that Chinese dictator Xi Jinping is currently doing his part to help his Russian friend Vladimir Putin ignore an arrest warrant for war crimes from the International Criminal Court (ICC). China itself stubbornly ignores international court decisions that go against it.
The Chinese newspaper scoffed at the notion that American sacrifices saved the Iraqis from the depredations of Saddam Hussein, quoting one Iraqi who railed at U.S. forces in his country as “tyrants” themselves.
There are only about 2,500 U.S. soldiers scattered across Iraq and they are largely present at the invitation of the Iraqi government, which asked for help against the Islamic State in 2014. China did not seem terribly interested in helping the Iraqis beat back the ISIS “caliphate.”
The Asia Times ran a retrospective on the Iraq War on Tuesday that criticized the Bush Administration of 2003 for not understanding how China and Russia would capitalize on the conflict and move into the power vacuum created by the fall of Saddam.
Putin’s intervention in Syria, for example, was made possible in part by the Iraq War and it was the mirror image of America’s intervention: focused, brutally effective, and performed on behalf of a partner Putin expected to repay the favor.
Meanwhile, China stepped forward to pick up economic opportunities the U.S. left on the table in Iraq because it wanted to disengage from the messy aftermath of the war, and both partners in the new Axis of Tyranny exploited the loss of American influence in the Middle East and the failure of idealistic nation-building crusades.
The Wilson Center observed in February that China had a long history of dealings with Iraq, dating back to the ancient Silk Road trade route that the Belt and Road Initiative is meant to replicate, and Iraqi elites like the way Chinese business comes with no ideological strings or political baggage attached. Their relationship is as simple as “Iraq has oil and requires construction; China needs oil and can build.”
According to the Wilson Center, the Iraqi people in general are actually much less enthusiastic about China than their leaders – especially Iraq’s Sunni Muslims – but steps have been taken to deal with that, including the creation of a “Silk Road grassroots movement campaign” that depicts America as “an invader, bombing the country and refusing to let it rebuild,” while China is portrayed as “a model for rapid and massive development and change.”
“This school of thought is closely associated with pro-Iranian organizations,” the Center noted. ✪
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