Via Professor Juan Cole’s groundbreaking Informed Comment website, an illustrated commentary on Sino-Iranian relations by Pepe Escobar in France (in English):
Then, via Al Jezeera’s English service, a short report on China’s Iran moves in October:
The best look at the deep structure of Sino-Iran relations today is probably my colleague John Garver’s work, Ancient Partners in a Post-Imperial World, published here in Seattle at the University of Washington Press in 2006.
Finally, the Politics by Other Means Eurasian blog has a thought-provoking post on “the personalization of power” in Russia and Iran:
[Putin’s method] is remarkably similar to the situation in Iran, where Mahmoud Ahmadinejad collects millions of hand-written letters throughout his trips around the country and promises to personally solve every problem. It is a type of paternalistic populism that is endemic in countries without functioning institutions. Unfortunately, it only perpetuates corruption and lack of faith in governance.
This prompts me to marvel at how bureaucratic and impersonal the Chinese leadership has become, and impressively so. Wen Jiabao may occasionally preen for the cameras, but no Chinese leader appears to want the appearance that they are able to fix everything — can you imagine the number of petitioners who would flock to the gates of Zhongnanhai then?
But then again, Wen Jiabao can’t do this:
In this light, Barack Obama seems strangely unable to marshal his own hip-hip potential internationally or find time for a pickup game of hoops in Beijing. Apparently he leaves his Jay-Z at the water’s edge. The President’s inability to tap into the best and the deepest currents of globalized American / African-American culture functions to the detriment of U.S. soft power! In other words, Mr. President, please don’t be afraid to seize the mic or shoot a layup next time you’re in Shanghai or talking tough to Tehran. Because America should always be young, and mp3s and images rock the chains better than bunker-busters ever could.