Boris Ryvkin explains in a Federalist column why the world’s largest communist regime stands to benefit from American misadventures in the Middle East.

The paralyzing and costly zigzags of American policy over the last couple of decades have opened doors for rivals to benefit at its expense. Chief among these is China — gaining massively in regional trade, geopolitical influence, and strategic investment with the indirect aid of American debt, lives, and firepower. Unlike Napoleon, the U.S. did not agree to become China’s icebreaker, but that counts for little if the net outcome ­is the same.

China — without firing a shot, committing troops to active military intervention in the Middle East’s myriad proxy conflicts, and doing little more in international diplomacy than raising their hands against the occasional contentious resolution at the United Nations Security Council — became the world’s largest investor in the Arab Middle East two years ago, with commitments of almost $30 billion and a close to 32 percent share of all foreign direct investment. Beijing seeks to integrate the Middle East’s largest economies into its One Belt One Road development initiative while avoiding imperial overstretch, recognizing the crucial role of economic development, human capital, and strategic investment to future global power.

In line with its cynically independent foreign policy — which seeks little to no input from secondary powers about its interests — China has methodically reaped the rewards of America’s mistakes.