This follows a previous post laying some foundational considerations from which to pursue an analysis of international events, Iran-US relations included. Take care to read it if you want to see what ground I build my thinking from.
Some events are pivotal. Studying them lets us pick apart the operations of power. The arena and means of struggle between fractions of the ruling social classes is made visible at such times. In international relations this is what’s called inter-imperialist competition.
Afghanistan is one such case, today as in the modern past (see my posts here and here for some background). For that reason, it’s sometimes called the graveyard of empires. Currently, the nation state leaders of the US, Iran, Russia, China, Pakistan, India, and Germany, among others, are there involved.
A careful observation of the situation in Afghanistan can tell us a lot about existing conflicts between Iran and the US, for example. It also informs us about the change in the balance of forces between conglomerated parties, where the likes of Germany and China take the fissures that arise during a pivotal event as opportunity to insert agenda items dear to some among their own leaders.
Afghanistan has been under US and NATO occupation since the end of 2001. That’s nearly 18 years from the date of this writing. It’s been a long-term commitment, motivated by strong incentives.
James Dobbins was the first US representative to post-invasion Afghanistan. He was involved when Afghanistan was delineated by borders but devoid of a state. The state and its component government had yet to be formed and decided upon. The US, as the leading occupying force, had primacy of place in this process. However, other non-Afghan participants were significantly involved, due to their long-standing regional influence or to the greatness of their international power.
Dobbins has written a brief account of his experience in the state formation of Afghanistan, with a special focus on Iranian involvement and his relations at that time with then Iranian representative to the negotiations over the fate of the country in focus. The chief Iranian negotiator was Mohammad Javad Zarif. Zarif is much in the news today, as Iran’s minister of foreign affairs, sparring with US president Donald Trump and US government associates of senior rank.
The essay is worth taking a look at, for what it reveals of the world then and today, as well as for a look at the assumptions made therein. This post will closely follow Dobbins’ essay, critiquing it in order to lay bare the situation of contemporary international relations.
Afghanistan is carved up in typical imperialist fashion
The state structure, its attendant institutions, the underlying constitution, and the first government of Afghanistan were decided upon during a session of negotiations in Bonn, Germany.
At the end of 2001, the immediate fate of Afghanistan was decided by representatives from numerous countries whose power afforded them a place at the table, along with Afghan associations and dynasties from within and without that country that were declared legitimate and strong enough to attend. These included foreign representatives from the US, Germany, Russia, Pakistan, Iran, and India.
As representative of the warring victor, Dobbins had acquired seniority. His United Nations counterpart was Lakhdar Brahimi. The UN chaired and hosted the event, an important measure for formally legitimating the aftermath of the war. Notably, the conference was held in Bonn at a time of Germany’s transition in domestic and international affairs.
The two leading individuals had worked together previously. Brahimi was a UN veteran, and an Algerian national with foreign affairs experience. Famously, he “served as Special Envoy of the Arab League Tripartite Committee to Lebanon, mediating the end of the civil war in that country”. While his role in Lebanon would have provided some comfort to the great and medium powers who were in competition with each other over the spoils of Afghanistan, it should have been warning to the vast majority of that country’s residents.
The situation in Lebanon is a disaster. The state structure and the political outcome of the post civil war compromise have crippled that country by dividing its political institutions along sectarian lines. The situation there amounts to a de facto recognition of Lebanon as an arena of foreign power competition, perpetuating political instability and dependence on or ease of foreign interventions. So, you can find there a parallel quasi-state in the form of Hezbollah holding its own foreign policy alliances. Something similar can be said of the country’s Future Movement Party, whose chief member and prime minister of Lebanon, Saad Hariri, was in 2017 summoned to Saudi Arabia and then held under detention as if he were a misbehaving subject of the kingly monarchy.
Lebanon is not a good model to follow, unless the intent is to establish a weak national state that’s structurally fractured to the point of incoherence, and whose constituent parties are driven to depend on foreign powers in order to break regular stalemates. That sort of state structure is one on reserve for the conquered and contested regions under imperialism’s mandate.
By Dobbins’ account, he and Brahimi decided on the way forward for the Bonn conference: “All of the states with influence on the Afghan parties would be invited to send representatives, who would live and work in the same facility as the Afghans. But only the Afghans and the UN team would actually participate in the negotiations. Their formal meetings would be closed to all national representatives, including myself, but we would all nevertheless have ample opportunity to follow the proceedings and lobby the various Afghan factions on the margins of their formal sessions”.
It was a two track ‘negotiations’ process. Firstly, the Afghan groups permitted to participate in the process would singularly or in large numbers meet with the representatives of foreign countries. There, plans were made, demands met, struggles fought, and so on. Once a decision was made, then the Afghans would meet together and formalise what was previously negotiated with the involvement of foreign powers. This simulated non-intervention pretended that the process was somehow carried out by sovereign independents. Furthermore, the Afghan parties involved were themselves made up of those who wielded various degrees of violent or dynastic power in their own national context.
In the final analysis, Bonn assembled representatives from powerful camps, and falsely claimed support for democracy, as if the demos – or people – were actually present and decisive in the grouping of dynastic heads and armed sectarian landlords. Rather, this was an accurate representation of Afghanistan’s balance of forces after conquest, adapted to the frictions of competing international powers.
Upon first encounter, Iran’s then representative spoke to that of the US, stating his government’s support for Hamid Karzai as interim leader of Afghanistan. A “suggestion I had already received from both the government of Pakistan and the foreign minister of the Northern Alliance, otherwise bitter enemies”, writes Dobbins. It’s unlikely that this common point of agreement was a fluke. The various parties probably held negotiations prior to Bonn.
Given what we understand of the internationally arbitrated decision-making Afghans were subjected to, it should come as no surprise that Karzai received the post.
The Iranian representative to Bonn was Mohammad Javad Zarif. He’s currently Iran’s minister of foreign affairs (since 2013), and led his country’s team in the latter part of negotiations that concluded in the fateful Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) of 14 July 2015, regulating the Iranian civilian nuclear programme.
Zarif has had longstanding professional relationships with major political personages in the US. He’s an eloquent English speaker who for a time was afforded government residence in New York City as representative to the United Nations (2002 – 2007). As foreign minister, he’s known for verbal sparring with US president Donald Trump and associates after the warlike relations that have ensued between their respective countries ever since the US withdrawal from the JCPOA.
European Union instability and Germany’s growing strength within the Transatlantic system
The US maintains its global primacy thanks in great part to its commanding role over the Transatlantic alliance. This particular Anglo-Europe system was constructed in the aftermath of the Second World War, composed of multilateral and bilateral structures. The US is the heir to what was once unevenly shared between Europe’s most potent nation states, a globe-spanning ‘zone of influence’ that means everything everywhere is considered of immediate interest and within the prerogative of previously European and now US ‘national security’.
As Western imperial might has waned, it’s been challenged from without by imperialist or chauvinist interests headquartered in other regions. Even if, rarely, a time-limited coherence of some genuinely popular movement has been strong enough to pose a mild challenge to the international concerns of empowered ruling classes, these movements have focused on the local and have been largely absent from contemporary international politics.
The transition of power, a tumultuous and dramatic affair despite the clinical term, is indeterminate and fought by foe and friend alike. All indications are that the US cannot keep the mantle of the world’s only superpower. Such a shift is affected by and has impact on the underlying structure and its affiliates, such as the UK and Germany.
“Germany cannot afford to wait for decisions from Washington, or to merely react to them. We must lay out our own position and make clear to our allies where the limits of our solidarity are reached”. This was said during a speech by Sigmar Gabriel in 2017, then German foreign minister.
He stated that there’s an accelerating “change in the world order” with “direct consequences on the perception of German and European interests”. This acceleration is visible under the Trump presidency but is not limited to the span of a single US president. France, the UK, Japan, South Korea, Canada, and other core states of US-led imperialism must adjust to the change. The ruling class of some are likely also to see an opportunity in such a crisis, in order to tip the scales of power in their favour.
Tensions emanating from these currents are among the causes for the particular pattern of concentration and fracture within the European Union. These two poles, breakup and confederation, are not simple opposites: they’re symptoms of US declining power over the Union and the strains in favour of one or another gambit for the shape of things to come.
It’s not that difficult to discern that no country could indefinitely maintain the position of unrivalled global superpower. Numerous US strategists have attempted to plan for this by using the brief period of unipolarity in order to maintain US advantage in the advent of a multipolar world. Arguably, that opportunity has mostly been squandered and the shape of the emergent world order’s new norms and institutions are being determined by packs with some degree of divergence from one another.
This is how today’s political and economic blocs have come to uncomfortably brush up against one another, elbowing each other for space.
Some of Germany’s ruling class have used state instruments to hasten their growing power, incrementally turning its regional sway into a global one by making the EU its sustenance and its tool of amplification.
This has been decades in coming. As France’s former president François Mitterrand and UK prime minister Margaret Thatcher confidentially discussed in 1990, Germany was upsetting “the political realities of Europe”. That is, it was gaining strength in the post-World War Two period and challenging France and the UK. This simply amounts to a crass division of the territory of Europe between their respective zones of influence. Who owns which country as their dependent periphery.
According to the confidential memo, Mitterrand “said that he shared the Prime Minister’s [Thatcher] concerns about the Germans’ so-called mission in central Europe. The Germans seemed determined to use their influence to dominate Czechoslovakia, Poland and Hungary. That left only Rumania and Bulgaria for the rest of us. The Poles would never come to like the Germans while the Oder-Neisse Line remained in question. Nor would the others want to be under Germany’s exclusive influence. But they would need German aid and investment. The Prime Minister said that we should not just accept the Germans had a particular hold over the countries of Eastern Europe but do everything possible to expand our own links.” [Emphasis mine]
Note that this was said at a time of Transatlantic alliance and expanding European integration. The daggers are hardly sheathed.
Venom is dripping from another section of the same memo recording the above-mentioned exchange. The French president claimed that he met with (pre-unification) West German leaders, chancellor Helmut Kohl among them, and had told them the following:
“no doubt Germany could if it wished achieve reunification, bring Austria into the European Community and even regain other territories which it had lost as a result of the war. They might make even more ground than had Hitler. But they would have to bear in mind the implications. He would take a bet that in such circumstances the Soviet Union would send an envoy to London to propose a Re-insurance Treaty and the United Kingdom would agree. The envoy would go on to Paris with the same proposal and France would agree. And then we would all be back in 1913. He was not asking the Germans to give up the idea of reunification. But they must understand that the consequences of reunification would not just stop at the borders of Germany. The attitude of Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Britain and France in the discussions at the Strasbourg European Council should have been a warning to the Germans.”
The Reinsurance Treaty was a 19th century secret treaty intended to keep the European balance of power by means of war. If one party grew too powerful then it could be invaded by a treaty member while the other signatory would keep out of it and allow for so-called balance to be restored by fire and blood. So, this was a veiled threat of war by proxy, made by a supposed ally of then West Germany. Mitterrand seems to have thought that Germany was growing too quickly and taking too much from the French (and others) share of spoils.
At this time of growing disharmony among allies and opponents, one has to wonder what barbed messages may now be exchanged behind the scenes, especially given the decreasing arbitration of US hegemony.
“Afghanistan has been the most important experience for the German armed forces. It was the first time since World War II that the German military was involved in real combat action,” according to the former chief of staff of the German armed forces, Harald Kujat. Many militaries used the ongoing war in Afghanistan as a live shooting range in order to train their troops, improve their organisational structures, and develop combat tactics. This helps to explain why even a very small deployment of armed forces could have an important impact on the military of the minor warring party. Here, we see that warring ‘coalitions of the willing’ can serve a purpose as training grounds in addition to assistance to and legitimation for the leading member’s war. This is little discussed in the general media.
In the case of Germany, it also signalled a sea change: that the country would become increasingly assertive, even deploying its military in international wars. This assertiveness is not limited to military matters. It’s reflected in the usurious and self-serving treatment of the Greek debt peon forcibly selling many of its key assets to German firms while bearing national responsibility for an emergency injection of capital liquidity into the likes of Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank (in tandem with similar requirements from others including the French banking sector, such as BNP Paribas).
The German assertiveness challenges similar motives held by the ruling class of other regional and national blocs. Importantly, it also paves the way for an active response to the awaited transition of power away from the unipolar world.
Concentration of power in the international realm works in tandem with concentration of wealth and power in the national case. The two must not be imagined as strictly separate. So, despite the utility of local initiatives, a working class political movement that refrains from thinking and acting on the broader stage is mistakenly leaving itself open to wide flanking action and intense international agitation for its defeat. Furthermore, the political and economic systems at work are international in nature even if states and patriotic private firms do play a significant role within this international system.
Foreign compromise and the subjugation of Afghanistan
The vital role of foreign decisions over the future course of Afghanistan is in evidence in several sections of Dobbins’ essay. Those Afghan factions participating in Bonn were supposedly independent, and had final say in sovereign matters. I’ve already been critical of this simulation of local independence, but I’d like to permit Dobbins to unmask its operations and highlight its limitations.
Relations between state actors is not neatly divided into absolute categories of friendship and enmity. Piecemeal cooperation is to be expected even between traditional adversaries.
During the US-led invasion of Afghanistan, the Northern Alliance was used to carry out the main task of ground combat in the fight against the Taliban, while the US gave them air support and supplies and Iran facilitated communications, provided intelligence, and coordinated a key component of the war effort.
The Northern Alliance had long-standing ties with Iran, and had for years received moral and material support in the civil war against the Taliban.
Dobbins has this to say about it: “prompted by the attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., the United States moved to join an existing coalition that had been trying to overthrow the Taliban since the mid-1990s. That coalition consisted of India, Iran, and Russia, and within Afghanistan, the Northern Alliance insurgency.” His country’s role in the affair was decisive, “[b]y adding U.S. airpower and removing Pakistani support for the Taliban”.
Once the Taliban was defeated, the Northern Alliance had an outsized if short-lived base of power, bolstered by the temporary convergence of its groups’ interests with those of its foreign supporters. The Alliance, furthermore, was no unified institution. It was a coalition of various factions associated with one another thanks to a shared enemy.
This alliance was not unlike many other alliances in that it had senior and junior members with competing interests and designs on the instruments of power. These differences made it difficult for an agreement to be reached on the division of government ministries between faction representatives.
We’ll never know how the Afghans may have come to terms with these and other differences if left on their own. The final outcome was decisively influenced by outside handlers.
First, Dobbins had the Northern Alliance’s lead negotiating representative, Younis Qanooni, meet with various delegates around Brahimi’s Bonn dining table. The delegates were German, Indian, Iranian, and Russian. The idea was to pressure the Northern Alliance to come to a ‘suitable’ compromise by a show of international unity.
According to Dobbins, “Several expedients were explored. We suggested dividing existing portfolios to create more posts. We proposed inventing one or two new ministries.”
Initially, this failed.
“Finally Zarif stood up, and signaled Qanooni to join him in the corner of the room. They spoke in whispers for no more than a minute. Qanooni then returned to the table and offered to give up two ministries. He also agreed to create three new ones that could be awarded to other factions. We had a deal. For the following six months, Afghanistan would be governed by an interim administration composed of 29 department heads plus a chairman. Sixteen of these posts would go to the Northern Alliance, just slightly more than half.”
The resultant fragmentation and duplication of departments has contributed to conflicts within the Afghani government. Officials can contradict each other on shared portfolios, work at cross-purposes with each other, and end up stalling the government. This is not a novel situation. Other weak states with limited independence were similarly organised, Lebanon being a case in point.
The state is multifarious, as shown during the Iranian government’s attempts at long-term accord with the US
Iranian officials made several attempts to normalise diplomatic ties with the US during the early 2000s. Then, as now, the two countries have no formal diplomatic relations and no embassies in each other’s territories. They rely on international meetings, unofficial missives, and intermediaries for communication.
The war and conquest of Afghanistan was used as an opportunity by the Iranian government, to attempt deepening cooperation and normalisation of diplomatic relations with their long-term rival. We know that this did not come to pass, and that the offers were indirectly rejected by then US president Bush’s public targeting of Iran as a member of an exclusive Axis of Evil, along with Iraq and North Korea. Iraq was soon after invaded on false claims that their government had a bounty of chemical weapons. Unsurprisingly, it was often surmised that Iran was next on the hit list.
In the attempt to mend fences, Dobbins and his Iranian counterparts did have some brief discussions exploring the possibility of state to state collegiality. What’s particularly interesting about that episode is that both parties claim that they were outmanoeuvred, countermanded, or sabotaged by other branches from within their own state.
Dobbins writes that years after the 2001 Bonn conference, upon “reading the memoirs of former director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), George Tenet, that I learned that two Department of Defense (DOD) members of my team in Bonn had left in the midst of our negotiations to attend a clandestine meeting in Rome with people whom Tenet characterized as ‘violent’ opponents of the Iranian regime.”
He also writes that “In this meeting, the DOD emissaries broached the possibility of U.S. financial support for their interlocutors’ efforts to overthrow the Iranian regime. This money, they explained, was to be channeled through the Pentagon rather than the DOS or CIA. Months later, on learning of these contacts, Tenet and Powell both tried to close this channel down. They succeeded in blocking such payments, although further contacts reportedly took place.”
That is a typical story. I mean that there’s nothing unusual about what Dobbins’ describes. The state is not an unalloyed entity bent to the purpose of a single master. It is an arena of class struggle. There are dominant classes that wield far more influence and can bring to bear a far greater concentration of resources than others in their control of the state. However, it doesn’t mean that the dominant class is of one mind on all issues, that, to paraphrase political theorist Leo Panitch, they even know or agree on how exactly the state could, should, or does operate.
In a capitalist society, capital is that dominant class. Meanwhile, the state is composed of multiple interrelated institutions. Government is one of these elements. Panitch, in his summary of Ralph Miliband’s important book on state theory entitled ‘The State in Capitalist Society’, says that “one needs to delimit the institutions of the state, and understand that government is only one of those institutions, and when you’re elected into government you’re not elected into power[…]” (Quote from a June 2019 interview with Leo Panitch in Politics, Theory, Other podcast in association with Tribune Magazine of the UK)
Ralph Miliband details some of these issues in a 1973 essay on the then coup d’eta in Chile against the socialist president, Salvador Allende. The essay is written in response to the tactical difficulties, and violent overthrow of the government, including assassination of the president.
“To achieve office by electoral means involves moving into a house long occupied by people of very different dispositions – indeed it involves moving into a house many rooms of which continue to be occupied by such people. In other words, Allende’s victory at the polls – such as it was – meant the occupation by the Left of one element of the state system, the presidential-executive one – an extremely important element, perhaps the most important, but not obviously the only one. Having achieved this partial occupation, the President and his administration began the task of carrying out their policies by ‘working’ the system of which they had become a part.”
And “Thus, a government intent upon major economic, social and political changes does, in some crucial respects, have certain possibilities, even if it does not contemplate ‘smashing the bourgeois state’. It may, for instance, be able to effect very considerable changes in the personnel of the various parts of the state system; and in the same vein, it may, by a variety of institutional and political devices, begin to attack and out-flank the existing state apparatus. In fact, it must do so if it is to survive; and it must eventually do so with respect to the hardest element of all, namely the military and police apparatus.” (from Ralph Miliband, ‘The Coup in Chile‘.)
Siege and strategy
The current grating tensions between the US and Iran are the flareup of a chronic condition. These are the differences between two alloyed groups of ruling classes embodied in the states of their respective sides. Some within each side have proposed a rapprochement and followup mechanisms for its material realisation.
The nuclear accord of the JCPOA was one such move. The US government has recently broken with the treaty and the remaining Western adherents are European. The European states’ leaderships have their own shoals to navigate around as they place bets on the future arrangement of power in accordance to their own designs as more or less subordinate to the Transatlantic suzerain, or even going so far as to cast out for a grand recomposition of allegiance coupled with the growth of alternative centres of gravity.
Many factors have an impact on developing situations, and the indeterminate transition of international power among ruling class institutions is among those that have thrown up a complement of contradictory forces. Even though this global rebalancing holds within the general framework of imperialism and capitalism, it can also result in significant changes.
The European Union is drawn to the established idea of partial confederation, it’s concentrated around new centres of gravity, and it’s also strained by centrifugal pulsations. The thing is that European integration had an unmentioned member whose retreat and ouster would demand a new composition and new purpose.
The US was and is this member: arbiter of final and sometimes first resort. Its might and majesty could unite the bloc, dampening the history of competition between the interrelated groups of that continent’s ruling class. Even then, it could dampen this elan only to a point, as shown earlier in the confidential exchange between Mitterrand and Thatcher in regards to German, French, and British territorial ambitions within the vaunted Community. An effective arbiter can bring force to bear, and it must sometimes do so in order to keep order and obeisance.
Iran was once a Western ally. As an ally, it had its place. It had been called the policeman of the Middle East. This meant that the monarchic elite of Iran prior to the Islamic revolution, under the king whose throne had been secured by US political, economic, and military exertion, would supervise the Gulf region on behalf of its US sponsor. A 1970s Nixon era US government policy paper put it more succinctly, favouring the use of Iran as a “chosen instrument”.
I mention these as reminders that only graze the tip of the iceberg. Detailed accounts of this history can be found elsewhere. What matters for our purpose here is to simply note that Iran has had a role to play in European colonial history as well as in that of its US successor.
The Iranian monarchy’s domestic strength was partly built atop the rubble of socialist and liberal national liberation movements. Such organisations and individuals were systematically broken, tortured, and killed. There was little to no space for opposition organisation remaining outside of partially protected religious establishments. Understanding this helps us to see some of the underpinning causes for the eruption of a nationalist and Islamic insurrection, and the reasons for popular support for the tearing down of Iran’s monarchy in the revolution of 1979. Evidently, the particulars of terror and imperial subjugation employed in Iran came up against countervailing forces that have taken form in the post-revolution Islamic Republic of Iran.
It’s difficult to imagine therefore that Iran, under its current leadership, would accept being a tool in another’s toolbox. So, Saudi Arabia is today’s policeman of the Middle East. This does not make heroes of the Iranian ruling class, it simply roots them in a type of patriotism.
The governing cliques of a victimised people must not be celebrated as automatically on the right side of history just because they’ve experienced oppression at the hands of a more powerful rival. The wrong attitude is often taken up by self-declared opponents of war and imperialism. For example, there’s a lack of perspective in the fawning behaviour of a SIPRI event’s host for which Iran’s foreign minister Zarif was given a supportive stage from which to present his government’s stance (video here). Just because the US government is in the wrong does not make correct the well crafted narrative presented by Zarif. As an organisation that claims to work toward weapons control and reduction, SIPRI should be wary of siding with a party in the midst of an evolving geopolitical competition. Imperialism should rather be defeated by undermining the structure that perpetuates it as a means to dominance.
In regards to Iran’s current situation, even should a branch of its ruling class wish for a return to regional policing duty, the situation has changed irrevocably. There’s no room for Iran as the Gulf’s most privileged underling within the current US imperial setup. The US has new core ‘partners’. The Saudi dynasty is the latest captain of US authorised ‘regional security’, promoted after Iran’s dramatic exit from the role.
All of this said, let’s now turn to a gruesome section of Dobbins’ essay. He frames it in somewhat genteel language and so I understand if the hasty reader skips over it. He comments that he thinks that economic sanctions will have little impact if their target is the “elites”. The net of suffering should be extended.
Consequently, he favours “Measures that would principally affect the population as a whole rather than the elites”, so that the US “could definitely get the Iranian public’s attention, assuming that the embargo was widely respected. The populace, however, might be more inclined to blame Washington for the subsequent sacrifices than their own leadership”.
Dobbins’ is referring to previous experience, leading to Iran’s revolution as well as to popular uprisings against US influence in other regions of the world.
The US can and has forced third parties to comply with its demands for an embargo against designated targets. Even the unwilling are regularly compelled to ‘respect’ the ultimatum. There are multiple instruments of enforcement available, among the most important of which is the singular role of the US dollar and related financial systems for the continuous circulation of international capital. If you want to have access to this system of capital circulation, so important to global supply chains, you’re best advised to comply with US demands. However, this structure is not impervious to change. The greater the length and breadth of economic disruption caused by the blackmail of the dollar system, the less useful it becomes and the more incentive given for the painful creation of an alternative at a time when unipolar hegemony is slipping away.
Said another way, “whenever a great power rises, there is a corresponding globalization movement.” This is a statement made by Qiao Liang, a noted strategist and major-general of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.
He fleshed out some of the specifics of Chinese ascendancy:
“One Belt, One Road is not simply to join the global economic system, which is a globalization under the U.S. dollar. As a rising super power, the ‘One Belt, One Road’ strategy is the beginning of China’s own globalization. It is a necessary globalization process that a super power must have during the phase of its rise.
“One Belt, One Road is the best super power strategy that China can bring up at this moment”.
What I’ve outlined here is not the whole story. I’m illustrating certain moving parts. Enough, I hope, to give us material to work with in the ongoing review of current affairs.
I did this via a close and critical reading of a senior state official’s essay in order to work through the threads of present political currents. The key here is to identify the structural underpinnings that help animate political affairs.