China, Iran and a ‘Jerusalem Quaternity’

Partners? Did they not notice the Mao suit Hu Jintao was wearing recently at the 60th-year celebration of the birth of the People’s Republic of China? Assuming leadership is exactly what China is doing in not cooperating with the West in regard to Iran. Assuming leadership is exactly what it was doing when it began to formulate new world relationships with South Africa, India, Brazil and Japan pending at the recent group hug at Copenhagen. Building relationships quite possibly in opposition to our own traditions and our own interests.

But that Russia would team with France, Germany, U.K. and the United States would be monumentally auspicious if it could bring in a few friendly faces from the Islamic world as well, and I don’t see why it couldn’t. From our point of view and from Jerusalem’s point of view. Because for the first time in my lifetime (and in the last 2,000 years as I have understood them) we are seeing what might be called a “Jerusalem Quaternity” — the four external cultural pillars which grew from the ancient tradition and the common psychological ancestor of Abraham and Aaron these past 2,000 years: the Catholic, the Orthodox, the Protestant and the Muslim — hanging together as if in a mandala on the far frontiers of Israel to practical, united purpose.

This quaternity of related cultures has a 2,000-year history and recedes to a biblical dimension. It consists of almost endless relationships of harmony and conflict swirling together, which in the East defines a marriage. How long have we in the West considered China a partner? Maybe 20 years. An equal partner? Never.

It’s all been good. It was good for Americans to invest in China from the Clinton era and will continue to be good. It was very good for Maoist China to adapt to some capitalist strategies under Deng Xiaoping. It brought 130 million Chinese out of poverty and created for China a new management class. But it is time for new buzzwords. Time for us to rethink who we are and who we are not, just as China is doing. Time to think again about how we can prosper and be healthy in the years ahead.


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