US invasion of Iraq. How did China become the biggest winner in this war

(ORDO NEWS) — China has been the main beneficiary of US incursions into the Middle East, writes Al Jazeera. While the US was depleting its material resources in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Celestial Empire focused on its own development and later confirmed the fears of Bush Jr., becoming Washington’s main strategic competitor.

In 2000, George W. Bush, during the election campaign, sharply criticized Bill Clinton for the idea of ​​a “strategic partnership” with China, saying that Washington and Beijing were “strategic competitors.”

On April 1, 2001, two months after George W. Bush took office, a Chinese fighter jet collided with an American EP-3 reconnaissance aircraft over the South China Sea. After that, the American plane was forced to make an emergency landing in China.

The Chinese detained the American crew for 11 days and carefully examined the spy plane before handing it over to the United States. Washington, in turn, laid the blame for this clash on the Chinese pilot and demanded an official apology from Beijing.

This incident further strengthened the Bush administration’s belief that China would become the main adversary of the United States. However, on the morning of September 11, 2001, terrorists trained by al-Qaeda hijacked four passenger airliners, three of which crashed into the skyscrapers of the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Virginia. Nearly 3,000 people died tragically. After that, America’s attention turned completely to the fight against terrorism, which resulted in its invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq.

There were almost half a million American troops in the Middle East, but the Chinese challenge was delayed by nearly two decades.

Fear of war

Shortly after September 11, 2001, US troops invaded Afghanistan, and in March 2003, Iraq. This was an important milestone in the development of the Chinese economy. Beijing has caught up with Washington and even began to compete with it in the technological, military and economic fields.

In 2001, China became a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), while the United States, on the contrary, was mired in military conflicts. Beijing’s accession to the WTO, the use of cheap labor and the attraction of millions of investors contributed to the rise of China. He was able to achieve an average economic growth rate of 8%.

The United States, in turn, declared a global fight against terrorism and unleashed two costly wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. In 2020, Washington signed a peace agreement with the Taliban *, which implied the withdrawal of all American troops from Afghanistan. At the same time, the United States maintains a military contingent in Iraq.

A joint study published by Brown University shows that America has spent about $6.4 trillion on wars since September 11, 2001, not including human casualties, including hundreds of thousands of Afghan and Iraqi civilians.

Former US President Barack Obama has called for an end to the Middle East and a focus on the rise of China. In this regard, he approved the “pivot to Asia” strategy to achieve balance in the regions of the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

Obama sought to limit the deployment of US forces in Iraq in order to increase the military contingent in the Asia-Pacific region. He intended to confront China if necessary, but the appearance of ISIS * confused all the cards.

Strategic opportunity for China

The war in Iraq allowed China to strengthen its position in the international arena, while Washington was disoriented. Many Chinese analysts believe that the US war on terror and the US invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq have given Beijing a free hand for two decades. He took advantage of the situation by focusing on his own development, which made him a major geopolitical challenge for Washington.

The Iraq war has exhausted the material resources of the United States and undermined its authority in the eyes of the world community. Beijing has not failed to seize the opportunity to build up forces faster than Chinese officials had predicted.

The United States has deployed a large number of troops from Asia to the Middle East, which did not allow them to further compete with the “Chinese dragon”, which increased its military influence in Asia.

Two decades after the United States invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, Washington is calling China its biggest geopolitical challenge, and Joe Biden is calling for “tough competition” with Beijing.

Growing threat from China

“China is the only country with both the will and the ability to reshape this region and the international order in line with its authoritarian preferences. So let me be clear: we will not let this happen,” said US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.

The fight against terrorism dominated the US National Security Strategy until 2016. Then Donald Trump came to power in the country. Change began in 2017, and by 2021, major power competition, especially China, has replaced counterterrorism as Washington’s top priority.

China has not been involved in any military conflict since the end of the border dispute with Vietnam in 1979. In doing so, it launched an expansion into the South China Sea that ignited territorial disputes with Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Malaysia. Beijing is also threatening Taiwan again. If he does not return voluntarily to his “native harbor”, then China is ready, if necessary, to take him by force.

China benefited from the Iraqi crisis

Twenty years after the United States started the war in Iraq, Beijing has become Baghdad’s biggest trading partner, especially in energy. Trade between Iraq and China has increased by almost 70 times compared to what it was before the US invasion. In 2002, it was approximately $517 million, and by the end of 2022 it had reached $38 billion. Trade between the US and Iraq last year was only $12 billion.

The United States has undermined its moral authority because of the intervention in Iraq and the war crimes committed there. The US military arrested suspects without trial and tortured them. Therefore, Beijing is now easily responding to Washington’s accusations of human rights violations – “we are doing what you did before us.”

According to a public opinion poll conducted by the Arab Barometer , China tops the list of countries friendly to Iraq. More than half of Iraqis (54%) have a positive view of Beijing, and only a third (35%) have a positive view of Washington.

48% of Iraqi citizens positively assess the policy of Chinese President Xi Jinping towards the Middle East and North Africa, while only 32% of Iraqis prefer the policy of US President Joe Biden.


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