US Turns to Cold War Tactics
The old Cold War tactics employed against the Soviet Union assume new guises in the era of the global economy and the new giants it has thrown up.
China’s international trade relations, for instance, are its Achilles heel.
In this day and age, therefore, discrediting the Made in China label worldwide becomes a Cold War tactic par excellence.
The campaign branding Chinese products marketed in the West as unsafe and harmful to health reached a new climax this week, threatening China’s gigantic textile exports.
Thursday, Aug. 23, Australia and New Zealand started the new outcry when they hastily recalled Chinese-made clothes discovered to contain dangerous levels of formaldehyde, a chemical preservative, in woolen and cotton clothes made in China, after tests were performed on imported blankets.
Earlier, toys containing lead and other hazardous substances, unhygienic toothpaste and harmful human and pet foods, were highlighted in warnings to Western consumers. The convention planted in the minds of consumers worldwide that buying Chinese is dangerous to health, especially of infants, will be hard to erase in the long term. Tens of thousands of Chinese export industries, medium and small, face hard times and many millions of workers stand to lose their jobs.
In a desperate bid to halt the made-in-China scare, Chinese officials raided a Beijing factory suspected of recycling 100,000 chopsticks a day and putting them back on the market unsterilized. Half a million pairs were confiscated.
Even more than air pollution, this sort of scare will keep visitors away from the Chinese capital, where eating out is seen to be a health hazard, and most likely hit ticket sales for the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics.
A trade war is launched
DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s Far East sources report that Chinese officials are deeply suspicious of the verbal offensive on their economy. They are asking why in mid-2007, Western consumers have been suddenly alerted to the unsafe standards of Chinese products, after they have swamped the world’s markets for twenty years.
And why are the products of other Asian countries not subjected to the same systematic scrutiny?
Those sources say that the powers-that-be in Beijing suspect that the administration headed by George W. Bush has embarked on a trade war not only against Iran but also the governments which befriend the Islamic Republic, although China has never been singled out before.
This suspicion ties in with the leak to the media of the administration’s plan to blacklist Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps as global terrorists in September, when the US Security Council is also scheduled to discuss harsher sanctions against the Iran for refusing to give up uranium enrichment.
(DEBKA-Net-Weekly 314 of Aug. 17 pointed out that this would be first time ever that the United States had designated the military arm of a sovereign nation and UN member a terrorist organization and declared war on its business and financial operations.)
This decision would resonate harshly outside the US-Iranian conflict, given the close military ties the Revolutionary Guards Corps maintains with Russia, India, Turkey and, most of all, China.
This week, too, US undersecretary of state Nicholas Burns made a complaint heavy with warning when he said that UN sanctions are undercut when America’s allies make lucrative trade deals with Iran. At a meeting at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Burns named those allies as Europe, Turkey, India, Japan and South Korea.
Some, he said, even offer credit to businesses trading with the Islamic Republic of Iran. Even countries that support UN sanctions continue to do business with Iran in other fields, particularly in the energy sector – a veiled reference to China.
Financial warfare and containment
A State Department official admitted that the Iranian threat was now being treated in similar terms to the Soviet Union in the Cold War, which left the United Nations on the sidelines and the brunt of confronting Soviet Russia to the United States.
Washington’s tactic will be to turn the heat on countries such as Turkey, India and China continuing to do business with Iran.
Washington’s cold war tactics are hurting Iran’s financial sector, with more to come.
Last week Alianz’s Dresdner Bank discontinued business relations with Iran, the third German bank to do so after Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank in recent months.
A furious response came from Vice Governor Jafar Mojarrad of Iran’s Central Bank.
He said there was no guarantee for their return in good times, and banks from Asia, Russia and the Gulf Region were prepared to take over the German banks’ business.
Power plays, Cold War style, are in the works for Iran’s containment. Setting aside its earlier demands for allies to embrace democratic reforms, Washington is strengthening its military relations with Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf Cooperation Council members with the accent on stability.
Washington is also in mid-drive for influence in the parts of the world targeted by Iran.
President Bush’s senior military adviser General Peter Pace visited some African countries this month.
On Aug. 14, he was in Djibouti to address members of Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa mission at a “Town Hall meeting” in the Thunder Dome at Camp Lemonier, Djibouti. He told them that through a humanitarian mission of capacity building and military training to help Africans help themselves, their project will be a model “as the US military sets up its African command.”