Just When U.S. Needs China, It Goes and Does All of This

The SF Gate reports on the U.S.’s last options to convince not to build nuclear weapons:

Sanctions haven’t worked either. The United Nations Security Council has ordered three sanctions packages, but Russia and China have neutered all of them. The only action that could work now, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton insists, is “crippling sanctions.” Blockading gasoline imports. Disarming Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.

This time, Russia is fed up with Iran. Moscow was insulted last year when Iran backed out of a deal Russia offered to refine Iran’s uranium. A few days ago, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, boasted that Iran now had the capability to make near weapons-grade nuclear fuel, and on Tuesday the Kremlin warned that it is running out of patience. Iran could face sanctions if it fails to meet the international community’s demands, President Dmitry Medvedev’s spokesman said.

All that’s left to win approval of strong, effective sanctions, it seems, is persuading China to go along. So why is the Obama administration doing everything in its power right now to alienate Beijing? … Of course, American relations with China are many-faceted. It would be foolish to subordinate every bilateral issue to the pursuit of agreement on Iran sanctions. Obamas’s first political priority right now is the American economy, creating jobs. Manufacturing weapons for sale to Taiwan creates jobs. So does placing tariffs on Chinese goods sold in the United States at below-market prices.

But Obama could have met with the Dalai Lama next month – or next year. His government doesn’t have to tangle with China over its currency right now. And, it seems to me, he could have waited a few weeks to announce the arms sale to Taiwan – until after the Security Council-Iran-sanctions debate has concluded. All of it is pushing relations down to the lowest point in a decade or longer. It also makes the Obama administration appear ham-handed.

February 20, 2010, 1:32 PM
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Categories: China & the World, Main