China’s government-run Xinhua news service gives us the Politburo’s thoughts about the threat of “violent extremism,” repeatedly referring to the U.S. as a “terrorist breeder.”
The Chinese comically portray the Middle East as a land of peace and plenty, until America came along and set it on fire by striking back at the state sponsors of terrorism. The editorial is as historically ignorant and superficial as anything you might expect to hear burbling out of a dorm room or faculty lounge in a California university, and of course it is laced with more than a whiff of blunt self-interest — China would very much appreciate the international community’s blessing for a crackdown on everyone it classifies as a “terrorist” — but in the key passage, there’s a kernel of truth about the dangers of Middle Eastern instability:
Washington paid little attention to exploring the root causes of terrorism, which should be deemed intriguing, as the latest villain on its black list, the Islamic State (IS) extremist group, originated not in Iran or the DPRK, both “enemies” of Washington, but in Iraq, a state “freed” and “democratized” by the U.S. itself.
It is also thought-provoking that the IS militants drew much of their fighting experience from the West-involved war in Syria, where the Western bloc has supported rebels in their efforts to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
It would be a never ending war on terror if Washington failed to find and eliminate the root causes of terrorism and extremism.
To admit it or not, Uncle Sam has effectively played the role of a terrorist breeder, when the war in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria turned the region into a burning battleground with no peace, security and stability in sight.
The U.S. military operation might be clean and swift, but its political plan for those states dragged into a civil war was awkward, which backfired and created dangerous swamps of turmoil that provided breeding ground for terrorism.
Perhaps the Chinese have not noticed, but the Obama administration is very interested in talking about the “root causes of terrorism and extremism,” most recently advancing the theory that ISIS needs a good jobs program to keep its idle hands from performing the Devil’s work. It has been a goal of American foreign policy, from Bush through Obama, to rebuild broken terror-sponsoring states into more stable societies. It has n’t worked very well under either Administration.
The great difference between them is that Obama’s team doesn’t have any sort of coherent plan for securing or stabilizing anything it wrecks, and it wrecks everything it touches. Their grand strategy involves telling their friends in the media to point their cameras elsewhere while each Obama foreign policy meltdown turns into a mushroom cloud of chaos; from Benghazi onward, Obama’s only strategy for Libya was to hope American media would avoid writing stories about it, a wish that was mostly granted… until ISIS muscled into the bloody chaos, sent 21 Christian heads rolling, and set about preparing for terrorist infiltration of southern Europe. ISIS got into Iraq because Obama blew them off as the “junior varsity team” of terrorism and gambled the Iraqis could handle them on their own, a gamble he lost badly.
As for Syria, that turned into a “burning battleground” without any help from the U.S. State Department. The only courses the United States could take to extinguish those flames would be precisely the sort of decisive intervention China is so critical of. At this point, such an intervention would occur on behalf of incumbent dictator Bashar al-Assad, but back when Obama’s loose bluster about “red lines” backed him into a half-hearted attempt to bomb Syria, the result would most likely have been handing Damascus over to ISIS and/or al-Qaeda. The West has supported some rebel forces, but they’re not the forces most energetically resisting Assad. There has never been a good play there, short of an all-out multi-national invasion that would wipe out both Assad and his most combat-effective opponents.
The problem in the Middle East isn’t American and European interests. It is the interest of Islam to spread across the rest of the world. China thinks geography and its own authoritarian brutality have inoculated it against the contagion, so it can afford to nitpick and score cheap rhetorical points.