How Do China and Russia Think of Iran?

The United States media often – and for good reason – portrays China and Russia as reluctant to implement sanctions on Iran. Rarely (too rarely), however, does it attempt to view the issue through a Chinese or Russian lens. Americans nearly never try to understand the complex motivations behind Chinese and Russian lukewarmness.

I will attempt to do that now. How do China and Russia think of Iran?

Probably in the same way we think of Honduras. The lukewarm American opposition to the coup strikingly parallels China and Russia’s stances on Iran.

If forced to state a position, most American officials probably would consider Micheletti in the wrong. By ousting Zelaya in his pajamas, Honduras revived a terrible tradition. Central America has a long history of destabilizing coups; they do terrible damage to a nation’s future prospects. While Zelaya’s actions may have been wrong, the army’s action was unquestionably unconstitutional.

But that’s exactly it. Zelaya wasn’t exactly an innocent victim in all this. As conservatives have pointed out again and again, the situation isn’t so clear-cut. The president, a widely unpopular figure, was pushing a poll of uncertain constitutionality. He attempted to align Honduras with Hugo Chavez’s anti-American alliance and was entertaining a (constitutionally forbidden) term extension.

Thus, the United States has been decidedly lukewarm in its criticism of the coup – analogous to Chinese and Russian moderation regarding Iran. Honduras has mounted a lobbying campaign in Congress; it appears to be yielding fruit. Several Republican congressmen visited Honduras; the administration “is not talking about imposing new sanctions for now.”

The truth is, if the United States fully committed itself against Micheletti – if it suddenly suspended all foreign aid and threatened military action – his government would fall in a matter of days. It doesn’t however, because it’s rightly sympathetic to Micheletti, just as China and Russia are sympathetic to Iran.

So the next time you bemoan Chinese or Russian foot-dragging on Iran, consider American foot-dragging in Honduras. The United States has legitimate arguments against taking too militant a stance in Honduras. China and Russia may have reasonable concerns, too.

After all, they were right regarding Iraq.

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6 Responses to How Do China and Russia Think of Iran?

  1. ilona@israel says:

    russia does not think about iran. russia is concerned about its position on middle east and at the same time they want to press and support iran, what about china-they are always about money.

  2. tellias says:

    China and Russia are dragging their feet with Iran because they want to place Iran squarely in their camp against the U.S. In doing so, China and Russia can siphon off valuable gas and oil exports, among other things.

    Unlike the beneficial attributes a friendly Iran would have for China and Russia, the U.S. position in Honduras makes little sense from a U.S. policy standpoint. If Zelaya returns to power, he will probably remain in power beyond January of next year. Given his prior dealings with Chavez, he will certainly join the growing anti-US bloc led by Chavez.

    A democratic Honduras is far better for the U.S. I highly doubt that if Zeyala were to return, Honduras would remain democratic. Of course this is all speculation and only time will tell.

    • inoljt says:

      Well yes; just as China and Russia are considering their self-interest in being lukewarm on Iran, we’re considering our self-interest by being lukewarm in Honduras. I’m not saying they’re right; it’s just that we ought to consider their POV.

    • E C says:

      You call what’s going on in Honduras right now democracy???

      The government that took power in a military coup, murdered dozens of opposition members, gang-raped female protesters, and repeatedly suspended the essential liberties of the Honduran constitution, is a democracy?

      Zelaya, who was duly elected by the Honduran people and was only pushing a NON-BINDING referendum on term limits, will lead Honduras into a dictatorship?

      Seems like typically upside-down right-wing logic to me.

  3. Perez Christina says:

    Are you american?

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