The China-brokered deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia has shuffled the deck in the Middle East, cutting the US out of the pot.
Over the weekend, in a surprising development to most Middle East watchers, China brokered a deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia to restore some bilateral ties between the Islamic powers after seven years without them. The agreement was a very basic one, with the two countries agreeing in principle to exchange ambassadors within two months, reactivating a security cooperation agreement, and restoring some economic and cultural exchanges. This is the first formal rapprochement between the Islamic Republic and the Kingdom since 2016, when the Saudis executed a prominent Shia cleric, sparking violent protests at its embassy in Tehran and precipitating the break in relations. Since that split, the underlying conflict between the two states on either side of the Persian Gulf has rapidly escalated, with Iran taking the aggressive lead. Its proxies in Yemen, the Houthis, have attacked Riyadh directly, while Iran itself has launched cruise missiles at Saudi energy infrastructure, crippling a major refinery for weeks back in 2019.
Given this recent history, the fact that any kind of deal was struck shows that key changes are occurring in Middle Eastern politics. The agreement, basic as it was, did not force Iran to cease its aid of international terrorists or non-state proxies, even those which target the Kingdom; this was a conciliatory move on behalf of the Saudis towards the Iranians. This step towards normalization of relations without addressing some of the proverbial elephants in the room – the malign regional activities of Iran, the Shia-Sunni dispute, relations with Israel – fits well within the Chinese diplomatic playbook, as does the language of the agreement. In the text, both Iran and Saudi Arabia agree to the principles of “respect for the sovereignty of states and noninterference in their internal affairs,” a classic Chinese formulation that Beijing uses to ignore human rights abuses abroad and gloss over its own at home. There are a wide variety of implications and impacts from this diplomatic coup for China, both in the Middle East region and further afield.
The piece, titled “A Black Professor Trapped in Anti-Racist Hell,” is written by Vincent Lloyd, a professor at Villanova University. He tells the story of his time as seminar leader for the prestigious Telluride Association summer program for high schoolers and how it descended into a dystopia of progressivism run amok, eventually turning its fire on the professor himself. The tale is not itself novel – there have been myriad such pieces across the media environment – but aspects of it are especially interesting given the professor’s own unabashed left-wing ideology.
The piece is worth reading in full, but there are some quotes that stand out, both in understanding the truly cult-like dynamics on display among the students and in the professor’s complicity in his own cancellation.
Progressive historians have been trying to rewrite American history for decades now, from Howard Zinn to the 1619 Project. The newest addition to this effort is Myth America, a compilation of historical essays purporting to debunk the myths of American history as understood by conservatives. Instead, they merely promulgate a whole host of progressive myths to replace them. In this episode of the Rational Policy podcast, we delve into Myth America chapter-by-chapter, breaking down the failures, falsehoods, and fabrications which fill its pages. If you enjoy a thorough historical argument, listen in!
In our modern Western society, a disturbing trend has become incredibly prominent in the media, education, and common discourse: the complete decontextualization of historic and current events so as to present the West as uniquely evil or especially horrible. One often sees this coming from people – usually on the political left – who use it as a cudgel to demean modern Western societies as part of a project of radical change to those very societies. This seems to be more present in the Anglosphere than in other developed societies. Much of the radical activism we’ve seen over the past year or two has emanated from the United States, Britain, Canada, and Australia, where statues have been toppled, history decried as uniquely genocidal, and modern societies seen as evil and immoral simply for existing in previously-colonized lands. Don’t get me wrong, all nations have blemishes and blights on their histories and each and every country has injustices in the modern day; still, these cannot be understood in a vacuum or without context.