Zimbabwe, China and Us
For now, at least, it appears that a Chinese shipment containing 77 tons of ammunition, mortars and rockets has been kept from reaching the conflict-ridden nation of Zimbabwe. The ship will likely head back to China, although it's still possible that it will make landfall somewhere else in Africa to deliver its cargo to the embattled Mugabe government. Two short thoughts on this saga:
The Great Game. China clearly understands the idea of military assistance and is a major player in this area. Although China does not pose a conventional threat to the U.S. right now, it absolutely competes with us in the areas of arms sales, military advice and foreign assistance. (Note that this sale was accompanied by the deployment of 20 or so Chinese troops to Zimbabwe, to facilitate the transaction and possibly advise on the distribution and employment of these weapons.) We have a choice: We can either develop a better foreign advisory and assistance capability to compete with China, or we can cede these countries and regions to Chinese influence.
Lawfare in Action. In many ways, this is a case study in the kind of "lawfare" we're likely to see in the 21st Century. It appears that legal actions in South Africa played a major role in blocking this ship from landing. Writ large, that may bolster the argument for greater U.S. involvement with international legal institutions, particularly those relating to the control of weapons proliferation.
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