The Shanghai Cooperation Organization
Wed May 10, 2006 at 10:31:47 PM PDT
Read it in Green
or Blue, too!
The trouble with a half-assed, piece-meal foreign policy, as Hunter alluded to
this evening, is that it doesn't provide policymakers, the media, or the
public with a coherent storyline for what's going on in the world or how we fit
into it. Aside from the more pedestrian dangers that arise from such a failure,
this is particularly problematic when that storyline is approaching its climax
at full speed and nobody is at the helm to even observe our collision with it.
Both Russia and
China are united over Iran, as China
signs a $100billion oil and gas deal with them and Russia
declares it believes they are not developing nuclear weapons while
simultaneously offering to enrich their uranium. Dick
Cheney insults Russia and George Bush is constantly f---ing with Iran
(sorry, just too many news articles to link to here). Vladimir
Putin decides Russia needs a stronger military and is busy engaging
in cooperative war games with China.
What's all this got to do with our foreign policy? Follow me below the jump,
and you'll find something VERY interesting...
Everyone should recognize these pieces of the puzzle from the past years'
headlines. Separately they're often viewed as novel, but relatively unimportant
events that have tangential effects on our foreign policy. Put together above,
though, they should jump off the page and signal alarm bells for even the
least astute observers.
There is an organization called the Shanghai Cooperation
Organization(SCO). Its membership includes China, Russia, Kazakhstan,
Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Iran, Pakistan, India and Mongolia have
been accorded "observer status" recently, but Mongolia and especially Iran are
eager to make the jump to full membership as soon as possible. Afghanistan (yes,
that's our Afghanistan) has also been warming to the group, but has not
been accorded any formal status with in its structure - yet.
Not counting those countries with "observer status," the SCO covers 3/5 of
the Eurasian continent and has a population of 1.5Billion people. The agreements
they have already made with each other cover trade, transportation, anti-terror
operations, customs cooperation, environmental protection, cultural exchange,
military cooperation, economic development, political coordination, and joint
defense. They are also working on establishing a free trade area, including free
movement of capital and labour, within 20 years. If I may be so bold: they're
kind of a big deal.
This organization might sound a lot like the European Union - and in fact it
is. It's a lot like a large, powerful, authoritarian, anti-democratic European
Union - that also plans on rivalling the United States and its allies for
control of the world (and space - no, I'm not kidding) in the 21st century.
There are a lot of documents, agreements, news stories, and speeches that we
could pore over in order to analyze this organization, but I think the joint statement they released
following a major meeting last summer is our best opportunity for seeing
what the SCO is all about, and what it means to us:
While emphasizing a great and constructive job, which was done by
the Council of ministers of foreign affairs, the heads of the member states
underline the importance of a practical functioning of the already launched
mechanism of consultations on international issues. They also consider the
task of providing a well planned and targeted development of SCO external
contacts an urgent one. Such issues should basically be handled by the Council
of ministers of foreign affairs, and current coordination of external ties,
being established by the SCO permanent bodies, should be done through the
Council of national coordinators and in interaction with the Council of
RATS(Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure).
As you can see, SCO members are eager to increase their cooperation in key
areas, and to do so at the highest levels of government. This ought to
demonstrate how serious they are about integration, and show how far they've
come already. For the sake of comparison, they're not far behind the EU in what
they've already set up and have operating.
The heads of the member states are convinced that a rational and
just world order must be based upon consolidation of mutual trust and
good-neighborly relations, upon the establishment of true partnership with
no pretence to monopoly and domination in international affairs. Such
order will become more stable and secure, if it comes to consider the
supremacy of principles and standards of international law, before all, the UN
This is their first subtle dig at the United States. No pretence to monopoly
and domination? You're damn right they're talking about us! This is their quiet
echoes what the heads of both Russia and China have previously stated, that
they intend to rival the United States and seek a bi-polar, if not multi-polar,
balance of power in the world.
What's interesting is that they are so committed to the United Nations. One
can only assume that they're eager to continue participating because both Russia
and China have vetoes on the Security Council, and even if they use them to
block progress, the very act of working through that body legitimates (for the
world outside of Redstate America) their actions.
In the area of human rights it is necessary to respect strictly
and consecutively historical traditions and national features of every people,
sovereign equality of all states.
What this tells us is that they have no intention of abiding by our concepts
of human rights, political freedom, or any other such liberties. The argument is
essentially that they have different concepts of human rights, and the
"sovereign equality of all states" gives them the right to exercise state power
with their concepts of human rights in mind, not ours. It's a not-so-subtle
warning that they'll be doing business on their own terms, so if we don't like
Chinese-style detention camps, then that's our problem because they won't feel
obligated to change the way they operate on our account.
development of a close cooperation between diplomatic, foreign,
external economic and law enforcement bodies, intelligence and defense
agencies of the member states
Read: we will speak with one voice, spend from one wallet, keep one watchful
eye on you as well as our own people, and come together to defend each other
with one gun. This is a big departure from what the EU has established - where
Europe has chosen not to coordinate foreign or defense policies, the SCO is
clearly going to get together on this stuff. Which means that if Uzbekistan is
attacked, then China and Russia are attacked as well.
This goes a long way in explaining why the Bush Administration has done
absolutely nothing about Uzbekistan's recent human rights violations and violent
crackdowns on political opposition (remember pro-democracy protestors who were
slaughtered by the hundreds a few months ago?). Confronting Uzbekistan is
confronting China, basically, and we've got no intention of doing that.
harmonisation of national legislations on issues of security
-training of respective personnel.
-cooperation on the invention and implementation of modern technical
equipment used in fight against new challenges and threats;
Again we see evidence of a consolidation of not only defense policy, but also
defense institutions. This language tells us that SCO-negotatited treaties and
defense provisions will be binding resolutions, and that they'll be promoting a
common pool of soldiers and equipment to enforce those treaties.
In laymens' terms, this means that they intend to integrate their armed
forces into a common military which will take orders indirectly from the SCO,
not from individual national governments.
A combination of the Chinese and Russian militaries? Yikes....
formation of an effective mechanism of mass media counteraction
against new challenges and threats;
We call this "propaganda" where I'm from.
The SCO member states will prevent any attempts on their
territories to prepare and commit acts of terror, including those aimed
against the interests of other countries, not provide asylum for individuals,
accused or suspected of conducting terrorist, separatist and extremist
activity, and extradite such individuals at respective requests on the part of
another SCO member state in strict accordance with the current legislation of
the member states.
This is another very interesting declaration. Including "separatism" is very
important to note, because that clearly refers to China's Taiwan "problem." What
this treaty means is that every SCO member is obliged to support China in the
event that Taiwan declare independence - including Russia. Not a bad deal for
China to have struck, considering they'll have to face us in any conflicts that
occur over this issue. Or will they? I have half a mind to wonder if our Taiwan
policy will hold up against the prospect of having to fight against China AND
Russia (as well as probably Iran).
This also makes the entire organization responsible for responding to any
Chechnyan or Tibetan problems, the latter of which presents a very interesting
question: should India gain full membership (remember, they're an observer right
now), would they be obliged to hand over the Dalai Llama as a "separatist"?
We are supporting and shall continue to support the efforts by the
international coalition, conducting antiterrorist operation in Afghanistan.
Today we are noticing the positive dynamics of stabilising internal political
situation in Afghanistan. A number of the SCO member states provided their
ground infrastructure for temporary stationing of military contingents of some
states, members of the coalition, as well as their territory and air space for
military transit in the interest of the antiterrorist operation.
Considering the completion of the active military stage of
antiterrorist operation in Afghanistan, the member states of the Shanghai
Cooperation Organisation consider it necessary, that respective members of the
antiterrorist coalition set a final timeline for their temporary use of the
above-mentioned objects of infrastructure and stay of their military
contingents on the territories of the SCO member states.
Another VERY obvious dig at the United States. They begin by taking the very
reasonable position that they support the actions taken against the Taliban in
Afghanistan and encourage continued cooperation against terrorists and drug
dealers who operate from there. But they take a quick turn in the second
paragraph and stipulate that member countries who're hosting American forces
need to set a timeline for kicking us out.
I suppose this explains why Uzbekistan recently
kicked us out. Officially this was the fall-out from their massacre of
political demonstrators, but unofficially.... well, I'm confident that DKos
readers can connect the dots.
The SCO will be making a constructive contribution to the efforts
by the world community on issues of providing security on land, at sea, in air
space and in outer space.
I told you I wasn't kidding about outer space!
I guess it's important at this point to remind you that yes, this is very
real. It surely must seem rather fantastic to think of an EU-style
conglomeration forming between Russia, China, the 'Stans, and possibly even Iran
(including military and foreign policy coordination), but that's exactly what's
happening. And as I said earlier, our piece-meal foreign policy has thus far
prevented us from connecting these dots and recognizing what's been happening
under our noses.
This should put a whole new spin on Dick Cheney's recent remarks deriding
Russia. In some ways they were appropriately portrayed as the first volley in a
new Cold War - but what nobody advocating that line of thinking bothered to
mention is that the players in this latest iteration have changed considerably.
The dispute over Iran's nuclear program is another piece in this puzzle. If
you notice who lines up on each side of this fight, you'll see that it very
clearly squares up with the new balance of power that's been created by the
formation of the SCO. Russia and China, primarily, are coming to the aid of
their new best friend. The United States, with somewhat less enthusiastic
support from Europe, is lining up against Tehran.
It should be no surprise to anyone, then, why President Ahmadinejad is so
confident: he can read the writing on the wall, and he knows as well as the next
man that the United States won't mess with him because not even George Bush is
stupid enough to pick a fight with both China and Russia. Dick Cheney will fire
off a few choice words towards them, because that's what he does, but by and
large the US government will shy away from confronting them anytime soon.
And that's what really ought to concern us about the SCO. The scary,
unspoken, unplanned-for truth is very simple: They can beat us.
While Dubya went off and decimated our military and our treasury in Iraq,
these guys were busy planning for the future. Almost all of their most ambitious
planning and most serious agreements have been made in the period since we went
to war against Iraq. They have carefully and strategically formed an alliance
and increased their power at exactly the same time that we have been losing
allies and seen our own power erode.
If we go to war against the SCO tommorrow, they will win. Hell, if we go to
war against the SCO five years from now, they'll win! And that's dangerous,
because this is an organization that is designed specifically to counterbalance
our power in the world. It's sole purpose is to present a credible threat to us
- and it sure as hell does.
The bloc of nations that are aligning with them is significant and growing,
too. Southeast Asia, nearly all of South America, parts of Africa, and possibly
even some more Middle Eastern countries are either on board or are going to get
on board with them. Look no further than China's recent flurry of investment in
South America (hint: it's HUGE, and is largely responsible for that region's
recent hostility towards us) as evidence of what's to come.
So get ready, because these guys are serious and they're not going away. The
SCO represents a rival on the scale of the former Soviet Union, and we will hear
more and more about this group in the coming years. Whether we ever engage in
direct military conflict with them is impossible to predict, but it's very
likely that the next generation of Americans and Europeans will grow up in the
icy grip of a new Cold War: one that pits an ageing, out-of-shape West against a
fiesty, well-prepared East.
If we don't get our shit together, and do it fast, the SCO will win.