politinfo

Trying to make sense of a meshuga planet

The US advice on Kashmir is lunacy

Got this from a friend. A revealing view on new utopia-based US foreign policy, this time unrelated to the Middle East, but is relevant nonetheless, because it is instructive on the mindset: The US advice on Kashmir is lunacy by M J Akbar (Times of India)

If you want to sell arsenic, the kindest way to do so is to disguise it as medicine heavily coated with sugar. There is nothing particularly new about the proposal of an interim balm for the wounds of Kashmir, demilitarization on both sides of the Line of Control. What is novel is the heavy Washington endorsement of this Pakistan-promoted option.

Self-interest may have blinded Washington to an obvious fallacy in this “reasonable” formulation. In all three major Kashmir conflicts – 1947, 1965 and Kargil – Pakistan has used a two-tier strategy. A surrogate force has served as a first line of offense. The Pakistani term for them has been consistent; they have come in the guise of “freedom fighters”. India called them “raiders” in 1947 and 1965, and defines them as terrorists now. This surrogate force has expanded its operations far beyond Kashmir, as the terrorist attacks on Mumbai confirmed.

DMZs (De-Militarized Zones) would guarantee the security of Pakistan and weaken India’s defences, since there is no suggestion that terrorist militias are going to be “demilitarized”. Should the Indian army leave the Kashmir valley to the mercy of well-organized, finely-trained, generously-financed indiscriminate organisations? India has no corresponding surrogate force, because it is a status-quo power; it makes no claims on any neighbour’s territory.

If America wants a DMZ (De-Militarized Zone) in India they will first have to ensure a DTZ (De-Terrorised Zone) in Pakistan.

India and Pakistan may have a common problem in terrorism, but they do not have terrorists in common. Those who have inflicted havoc already in India, and those who intend to do so in future, are safe in their havens in Lahore and Multan and Karachi.

June 21, 2009 Posted by | US foreign policy | , , | Leave a comment

Hamas loves Jimmy Carter

Jimmy Carter smiles (FOX News)

Jimmy Carter smiles (FOX News)

Carter, Targeted by Islamic Terrorists in Gaza, Calls to Remove Hamas from U.S. Terror List (FOX)

Former President Jimmy Carter will urge the Obama administration to remove Hamas from the terrorist list, FOX News has learned.

In order to show their usefulness, Hamas thugs performed a theatrical ploy, defusing a couple of roadside bombs on a path Carter’s convoy:

The boy told FOX News he saw three Palestinian men planting bombs, four of which were later found near a mound less than a mile from the Israel-Gaza border. The boy said he notified Hamas police, who detonated the bombs and took the three men into custody.

In addition to his infamous antisemitic book, Carter has the best credentials for a peacemaker: from Hamas.

“Nobody in Gaza will touch this man,” Hamas adviser Ahmed Yousef said. “He is on a noble mission. Everyone here respects him.”

2006 cartoon by Cox & Forkum

2006 cartoon by Cox & Forkum

Eldad on Carter: With Such Friends, Who Needs Enemies? (IsraelNN.com)

National Union MK Aryeh Eldad quipped about former U.S. President Jimmy Carter Monday, “With peacemakers like this, who needs enemies?” Eldad claimed Carter acts as an agent for Arab interests.

“Maybe we could understand why this is so if we remember the large amounts of money former President Carter receives from Arab sources,” Eldad said. He pointed out that Carter considers Hamas to be a legitimately elected governing power.

Ken Blackwell, an advisor to the JINSA, writes in Townhall:


Jimmy Carter, perhaps panting for another Nobel peace prize, is in the Mid-East, planning to meet with others who want to de-stabilize Israel. Hamas—the terrorist gang that controls the Gaza Strip—will roll out the red carpet for the former U.S. President.

Carter calls all Jewish settlement on the West Bank “illegal and [an] obstacle to peace. The Israelis took Carter’s advice on Gaza. They dismantled all their settlements there. They handed over the land to the Palestinians. They followed Carter’s formula of land for peace. And what did they get? Hamas control of Gaza and 6,000 Hamas missiles raining down on Israel. Some deal. Some peace. It might better be called Carter’s “Piece Plan”—handing over territory to Israel’s sworn enemies—piece by piece.

Jimmy Carter has published books and articles likening Israel’s position in the West Bank to that of the apartheid regime in South Africa. He use of apartheid is intended to de-legitimize Israel and bring its downfall—just like the anti-apartheid campaign in the `90s brought an end to the white supremacist regime in South Africa.

Yet what is Carter advocating by freezing the natural growth of Jewish settlement on the West Bank? What Carter is saying, in effect, is that Arabs should be able to continue to live in peace in Tel Aviv, but Jews—and Christians—cannot live in Jericho and Bethlehem. Who’s the real supporter of apartheid?

Carter predicts that President Obama will take the next logical step after he succeeds in freezing Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria: “In the future, I am sure, [Obama] will call for the dismantling of the settlements that exist.”

Question: If Jews cannot live in Judea and Samaria—where Jews have lived since before the Roman Empire—why should they be allowed to live in Tel Aviv? Tel Aviv was founded only in the early 1900s.

The plan to create a Judenrein—a Jew-free zone on the West Bank of the Jordan—is ultimately a plan to de-stabilize and then dismantle the Jewish state. This is not just a change from George W. Bush; it’s a change from Harry Truman!

That’s how far back U.S. support for Israel goes—right to the beginning of the Jewish state in 1948. But no more. The Obama administration will press and push, prod and peck away at Israel’s basic security needs. If Obama succeeds, Israel may not be destroyed, but she will be much weaker, much more vulnerable, much more in danger from enemies pledged to destroy her. Is that the change America wants? Is that the kind of change Americans voted for?

So maybe not all is lost with the Dems?
US: Democratic Party’s Jewish Council denounces Carter

The National Jewish Democratic Council … issued an official censure of former US President Jimmy Carter, after Fox News reported he urged US President Barack Obama to remove Hamas from the US terror-group list.

RELATED
Carter’s shameless tears (YNetNews)

Jimmy Carter – The Prince of Peace? by Sherri Mandell (JPost.com BlogCentral Heart-Earned Wisdom)

June 17, 2009 Posted by | Hamas, US foreign policy | , , , , | 1 Comment

Liz Cheney criticizes Obama’s foreign policy

I was really impressed by Liz Cheney’s speech (C-SPAN, video link included). Especially when she compared his words with Ronald Reagan’s and mentioned “the divinity of the president” with the Left.

Relevant info from Talk Radio News Service:

Liz Cheney, daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs during the George W. Bush administration, criticized statements made by President Barack Obama during his recent diplomatic trip to the Middle East and Europe. Cheney accused Obama of attempting to appear neutral at the expense of U.S. interests.

“I think an American president has to be America’s strongest defender…For him to set himself above the debate puts him in a situation of defending global interests at the same time he’s supposed to be defending American interests,” Cheney told The Talk Radio News Service following a speech at the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute’s Conservative Leadership Seminar Monday. “It’s not the best way to achieve our national security objectives.”

Cheney criticized Obama for what she said was an unfair comparison of the Holocaust to the status Palestinian people.

“I think many Americans would say there’s absolutely no way you can talk about a moral equivalence there,” said Cheney.

While Cheney does not believe that the trip itself endangered the U.S., she asserted that Obama’s current national security policies pose a substantial risk.

“I didn’t hear the President in his speech say that America is committed to making sure Iran will not have a nuclear weapon,” Cheney said.

June 13, 2009 Posted by | Security threats, US foreign policy | , | 1 Comment

… and Petraeus is His messenger?

Maybe in this particular case, Gen. Petraeus was supposed to comply with the current policies or maybe there is some grand strategy… All disclaimers aside, I share the vexing feeling when the people I just recently respected as reasonable and knowledgeable, today make dizzyingly irrational statements.

General Petraeus’ Disturbing Statement About Hezbollah. Does he really believe that the terror group exists only because of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute? by Nicholas Guariglia (PJM)

First, allow a disclaimer: … I consider Gen. David Petraeus to be our finest military leader today — indeed, amongst the best in American history.

Like most Americans, I take what Petraeus says very seriously. Now that he is in charge of CENTCOM, his overall responsibilities include all of the Middle East.

Petraeus is a respected man, whose opinions are highly valued and held in high esteem — which makes his recent comment about the terrorist group Hezbollah all the more surprising.

Gen. Petraeus spoke with the Arabic-language al-Hayat newspaper, published by the Lebanese Daily Star, and blamed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for the existence of Hezbollah. “Hezbollah’s justifications for existence will become void,” Petraeus said, “if the Palestinian cause is resolved.”

It is unclear what Petraeus meant by this statement. While he has earned the benefit of the doubt, if Petraeus truly meant what he apparently said, this is a highly discouraging revelation. The idea that the Palestinian “plight” is Hezbollah’s casus belli is so far from the truth, and so detached from reality, it is hard to believe Petraeus actually thinks this. Perhaps there was a mistranslation? Perhaps Petraeus was making shrewd statements for domestic Lebanese consumption — attempting to undermine Hezbollah by painting them as more concerned for Palestinians than the Lebanese people, just ahead of Lebanon’s elections? All of this is possible.

But what if these explanations aren’t the case? What if Gen. Petraeus literally believes the alleviation of the Palestinian grievance is the key to regional counterterrorism?

Just because Gen. Petraeus is a brilliant military mastermind does not automatically make his views on Middle Eastern geopolitics beyond question. Hezbollah is an Iranian-backed, Iranian-financed, Iranian-armed jihadist organization that was created by the Islamic Republic in the early 1980s and sent to Lebanon to kill and intimidate those in Lebanon who oppose theocracy and fascism. Hezbollah terrorists have killed more Americans than any other terrorist group in the world, save al-Qaeda one Tuesday morning eight years ago. They have conducted attacks on innocents and civilian targets in the Middle East, in Latin America, in Asia; they have bases all over the world. They answer to the supreme leader of Iran and constitute the elite of the elite of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.

To suggest Hezbollah’s primary motivations are minimalist and nationalist — indeed, not even their nation — is baloney. The rationale for Hezbollah’s existence is to overtake and ransack Lebanon and make it a satrapy state for Iran, to Islamize secular Lebanese polity, to kill Westerners wherever and whenever possible, and, more significantly, to strive for the end of Israel’s existence. To say Hezbollah’s “justifications” would run dry, should a non-related event occur, operates from the false premise that Hezbollah feels compelled to offer justifications for their actions in the first place. They don’t.

You can tell a lot about a person’s views (and values) by the way he answers the following question: “Would a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict solve the problems of the Middle East, or would solving the problems of the broader Middle East — namely, Iran — one day bring about a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?”

The emph. is mine.

SEE ALSO
Is Petraeus an Islamic Tool? by Diana West (Am. Daily Review)

June 11, 2009 Posted by | Arab-Israeli Conflict, US foreign policy | , , | Leave a comment

Obama’s Cairo speech analyses roundup

The “big” speech was indeed so long-winded and multi-faceted that, before it is too late, I decided to post a few good links and a single quote, instead of my random thoughts. It’s a bit too much for me to chew right now.


In 1922 the League of Nations mandated Great Britain to facilitate the
reconstitution of the Jewish commonwealth in the Land of Israel on both
sides of the Jordan River. The international community’s decision to work
towards the reestablishment of Jewish sovereignty in Israel owed to its
recognition of the Jewish people’s legal, historic, and moral rights to our
homeland.

Arab propaganda finds this basic and fundamental truth inconvenient. So for
the past 60 years, the Arabs have been advancing the fiction that Israel’s
existence owes solely to European guilt over the Holocaust. As far as the
Arabs are concerned, the Jews have no legal, historic, or moral right to
what the Arabs see as Islamic land.

In his address, while Obama admonished the Arabs for their pervasive Jew hatred and Holocaust denial, he effectively accepted and legitimized their view that Israel owes its existence to the Holocaust when he said, “the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied,” and then went on to talk about the Holocaust.

Just as abominably, Obama compared Israel to Southern slave owners and Palestinians to black slaves in the antebellum south. He used the Arab euphemism “resistance” to discuss Palestinian terrorism, and generally ignored the fact that every Palestinian political faction is also a terrorist organization.

In addition to his morally outrageous characterization of Israel and factually inaccurate account of its foundations, Obama struck out at the Jewish state through the two policies he outlined in his address. His first policy involves coercing Israel into barring all Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria (otherwise known as the West Bank), and Jerusalem.

Even more strategically devastating than his castigation of Israel as the villain in the Arab-Israel conflict is Obama’s stated policy towards Iran.

SEE ALSO

UPDATE

Criticism and Conciliation by Raymond Ibrahim

West Bank Settlements and the Future of U.S.-Israeli Relations by George Friedman (STRATFOR)

The Exodus Obama Forgot to Mention by Andre Aciman

Israel and the US: What Special Relationship? by Ami Isseroff

Why Israelis Are Cool on the Obama Speech by Judea Pearl

Our Historically Challenged President. A list of distortions by Victor Davis Hanson

Obama to Jews: I’m Just Not That Into You by Stuart Schwartz

A new magazine Tablet has a Liberal response to Conservative criticism:
Purple Prose of Cairo. The trouble with conservative critiques of Obama’s Cairo speech by Michael Weiss

How representative is this selection? It depends on the metrics. This is what caught my eye and I thought is worth attention.

June 9, 2009 Posted by | Arab-Israeli Conflict, US foreign policy | , , , | Leave a comment

NPR stokes the myth of the “Israel Lobby” despite the US-Israel tensions

For ideologues, if reality contradicts their theory, the theory always wins.

Today, one must be blind to deny tensions between the US and Israel. Facts be damned, this is the second week the NPR reruns its old multi-part Cambridge Forum program The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy with pseudo-scientists John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt insinuating “America’s unconditional support” of Israel.

June 7, 2009 Posted by | US foreign policy | , , , | Leave a comment

The U.S. no more dictates to all other countries. Except Israel

More on the backwardness of the strategy of befriending enemies while antagonizing allies. Wash Post has a great piece by Charles Krauthammer, The Settlements Myth (the emph. is mine):

President Obama repeatedly insists that American foreign policy be conducted with modesty and humility. Above all, there will be no more "dictating" to other countries. We should "forge partnerships as opposed to simply dictating solutions," he told the G-20 summit. In Middle East negotiations, he told al-Arabiya, America will henceforth "start by listening, because all too often the United States starts by dictating."

An admirable sentiment. It applies to everyone — Iran, Russia, Cuba, Syria, even Venezuela. Except Israel. Israel is ordered to freeze all settlement activity. As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton imperiously explained the diktat: "a stop to settlements — not some settlements, not outposts, not natural-growth exceptions."

What’s the issue? No "natural growth" means strangling to death the thriving towns close to the 1949 armistice line, many of them suburbs of Jerusalem, that every negotiation over the past decade has envisioned Israel retaining. It means no increase in population. Which means no babies. Or if you have babies, no housing for them — not even within the existing town boundaries. Which means for every child born, someone has to move out. No community can survive like that. The obvious objective is to undermine and destroy these towns — even before negotiations.

To what end? Over the past decade, the U.S. government has understood that any final peace treaty would involve Israel retaining some of the close-in settlements — and compensating the Palestinians accordingly with land from within Israel itself.

That was envisioned in the Clinton plan in the Camp David negotiations in 2000, and again at Taba in 2001. … This idea is not only logical, not only accepted by both Democratic and Republican administrations for the past decade, but was agreed to in writing in the letters of understanding exchanged between Israel and the United States in 2004 — and subsequently overwhelmingly endorsed by a concurrent resolution of Congress.

Yet the Obama State Department has repeatedly refused to endorse these agreements or even say it will honor them. This from a president who piously insists that all parties to the conflict honor previous obligations. And who now expects Israel to accept new American assurances in return for concrete and irreversible Israeli concessions, when he himself has just cynically discarded past American assurances.

The entire "natural growth" issue is a concoction. Is the peace process moribund because a teacher in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem is making an addition to her house to accommodate new grandchildren? It is perverse to make this the center point of the peace process at a time when Gaza is run by Hamas terrorists dedicated to permanent war with Israel and when Mahmoud Abbas, having turned down every one of Ehud Olmert’s peace offers, brazenly declares that he is in a waiting mode — waiting for Hamas to become moderate and for Israel to cave — before he’ll do anything to advance peace.

In his much-heralded "Muslim world" address in Cairo yesterday, Obama declared that the Palestinian people’s "situation" is "intolerable." Indeed it is, the result of 60 years of Palestinian leadership that gave its people corruption, tyranny, religious intolerance and forced militarization; leadership that for three generations rejected every offer of independence and dignity, choosing destitution and despair rather than accept any settlement not accompanied by the extinction of Israel.

That’s why Haj Amin al-Husseini chose war rather than a two-state solution in 1947. Why Yasser Arafat turned down a Palestinian state in 2000. And why Abbas rejected Olmert’s even more generous December 2008 offer.

In the 16 years since the Oslo accords turned the West Bank and Gaza over to the Palestinians, their leaders built no roads, no courthouses, no hospitals, none of the fundamental state institutions that would relieve their people’s suffering. Instead they poured everything into an infrastructure of war and terror, all the while depositing billions (from gullible Western donors) into their Swiss bank accounts.

Obama says he came to Cairo to tell the truth. But he uttered not a word of that. Instead, among all the bromides and lofty sentiments, he issued but one concrete declaration of new American policy: "The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements," thus reinforcing the myth that Palestinian misery and statelessness are the fault of Israel and the settlements.

Blaming Israel and picking a fight over "natural growth" may curry favor with the Muslim "street." But it will only induce the Arab states to do like Abbas: sit and wait for America to deliver Israel on a platter. Which makes the Obama strategy not just dishonorable but self-defeating.

Whenever Jews (and Jews alone) are singled out for one-sided restrictions, I am wondering: why does it feel so quiet and lonely all of the sudden? Where all those self-righteous "anti-racists" have gone?

June 5, 2009 Posted by | US foreign policy | , , | 1 Comment

Why it’s wrong to restrict natural growth

I feel ashamed that Obama administration chose to make demands of a total “freeze” of Jewish communities in historical Jewish homelands of Judea and Samaria – that, if implemented, would affect even the “natural growth,” i.e. without expanding their boundaries.

Historical record of those who imposed demographic/territorial restrictions on Jews (and Jews alone) is abysmal: from medieval expulsions & ghettos to German policies of Schutzjuden, to the Russian Pale of Settlement, to the horrors of the 20th century, to 2005 Israel’s expulsion of Jews from Gaza, which resulted in Hamas’ putsch.

I see the following problems with the new Obama/Clinton stance:

1. It violates the understandings negotiated between the previous US administrations and the govt of Israel. A dangerous precedent.

2. To prohibit even the natural growth within already established communities is an illogical and cruel restriction. Even left-wing Ehud Barak agrees that it is wrong.

3 & 4. I agree with Herb Keinon and Elliott Abrams: it won’t bring peace any closer and will only increase tensions between Israel and the US: Analysis: Is Obama looking for a fight over ‘natural growth’?:

“A ‘settlement freeze’ would not help Palestinians face today’s problems or prepare for tomorrow’s challenges,” Elliott Abrams, the deputy national security adviser under former US president George Bush, wrote in April in The Washington Post.

“The demand for a freeze would have only one quick effect: to create immediate tension between the United States and Israel’s new government,” he wrote. “That may be precisely why some propose it, but it is also why the Obama administration should reject it.”

Abrams proved prophetic: the issue has indeed created immediate tension with the US, not over illegal outposts – Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has made it clear he will remove them – but over “natural growth” in the settlements. …

Even if Israel succumbs to ever-increasing and ever-ridiculous demands, Gaza will be still under uncompromisingly genocidal Hamas jihadis, the Palestinian Authority-run schools, mass media and mosques will be still full of incitement against Jews and Israel, Hezbollah will not go away, etc.

5. Finally, and most importantly, it pushes public attention away from the real threat in the region: Iran.

So far Obama’s policies of befriending enemies and antagonizing allies are a big flop. BTW, Bibi deserves credit for standing up against huge pressure.

UPDATE
Abbas wants US to oust Netanyahu
Background: The documents President Obama apparently decided to ignore
Barry Rubin: What’s Unsettling about Obama’s Policy Toward Settlements

May 29, 2009 Posted by | Israel | , , | 1 Comment

US-funded PA names a center “after the martyr Dalal Mughrabi”

How many times we hear that the PA is “too weak” to act decisively against terrorism? No amount of money, equipment and training seems to make any difference. And so, apologists of PA’s inaction come up with never-ending demands of concessions and “gestures” from Israel (not that these make any difference, either).

Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook (of Palestinian Media Watch) ask in JPost: Will the US follow its laws and suspend funding to Abbas? The article proves that Palestinian leadership consistently makes incitement of violence against Jews and Israel their first choice. The full article has more evidence.

As US President Barack Obama prepares to welcome Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to Washington this week, and US lawmakers debate the proposed $900 million aid package to the PA, it is once again using its money to proclaim that killing Israeli woman and children is heroic.

The PA chose to name its latest computer center “after the martyr Dalal Mughrabi,” who led the most deadly terror attack in the country’s history. Her 1978 bus hijacking killed 37 civilians, 12 of them children, including American photographer Gail Rubin. The new center is funded by Abbas’s office, which is bolstered by Western aid money. (Al-Ayyam, May 5).

US law prohibits the funding of Palestinian structures that use any portion of their budget to promote terror or honor terrorists. But $200 million of the US’s proposed $900m. aid package is earmarked to go directly to the Abbas government, which regularly uses its budget to honor terrorists. In fact, this latest veneration of Mughrabi is not an isolated case, but part of a continuing pattern of honoring terrorists that targets children in particular.

Last summer the PA sponsored “the Dalal Mughrabi football championship” for kids, and a “summer camp named for martyr Dalal Mughrabi… out of honor and admiration for the martyr.” It also held a party to honor exemplary students, also named “for the martyr Dalal Mughrabi,” under the auspices of Abbas and at which Abbas’s representative “reviewed the heroic life of the martyr [Mughrabi] (Al-Hayat al-Jadida, July 23, 24 and August 8, 2008). All these PA-funded activities were to teach kids that a killer of women and children is a role model.

TWO MONTHS AGO, 31 years to the day after the Mughrabi murders, PA TV broadcast a special program celebrating the terror attack, calling the killing of 37 civilians “one of the most important and most prominent special operations… carried out by a team of heroes and led by the heroic fighter Dalal Mughrabi” (PA TV March 11).

In 2002, US money funded renovations of the “Dalal Mughrabi school for girls.” After PMW alerted the US State Department to Mughrabi’s terrorist past, the funding was cancelled. Within 24 hours, the PA said the name would be changed, and the American money was reinstated. Once the work was completed, however, the school was renamed for the terrorist. It bears Mughrabi’s name to this day.

AT A RECENT hearing of the House Appropriations Committee, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pledged: “We will work only with a Palestinian Authority government that unambiguously and explicitly accepts the Quartet’s principles, [including] a commitment to nonviolence.” And it’s not just Clinton’s pledge. US law interprets nonviolence to include not honoring terrorists: “None of the [US]… assistance under the West Bank and Gaza program may be made available for the purpose of recognizing or otherwise honoring individuals who commit, or have committed acts of terrorism” (2008 Foreign Operations Bill Sec. 657.B – C.1). This latest glorification of the terrorist Mughrabi, coming as Congress considers the administration’s latest request to fund Abbas, imposes a profound responsibility on Congress. But it also creates a unique opportunity.

Will the US follow its own laws, and insist that the PA stop turning killers of women and children into heroes and role models before it receives another cent of US money? Congress and Obama can send a message to the PA that the US will not fund the PA, or any part of its budget, until it proves that it has ceased promoting terrorist murderers as heroes and role models. It can demand a statement from Abbas – in public, in Arabic and in the PA media – that murdering Israelis is terror, that terrorists are neither heroes nor holy martyrs and that they will no longer be honored.

Or they can send a different message to Abbas: that raising another generation of Palestinian children to the values of hate, murder and martyrdom is acceptable to the US – so acceptable that the US is even willing to fund it.

May 28, 2009 Posted by | Palestinians | , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t count on Russia in opposing Iran

WINEP published Will Russia Help the United States with Iran? by Mark N. Katz

To me, this reminds Russia I know (expletives omitted here, emphasis added below).

Russia’s recent decision not to sell the S-300 antiaircraft missile system to Iran (at least for now) raised hopes that Moscow would cooperate more fully in the effort to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons. Recent statements from Russian leaders indicating that they were on board with the U.S. strategy further buoyed optimism. Despite these promising signs, however, there is strong reason to doubt that Moscow’s cooperation will continue.

Like Europe, Israel, the United States, and most Arab governments, Russia does not want Iran to acquire nuclear weapons. The expectation that this will lead to joint Russian-American cooperation, however, is seriously mistaken. Moscow does not want Iran to either voluntarily renounce or be forcefully prevented from acquiring nuclear weapons if — as Moscow fears — this results in a diminution of Russia’s value to Iran as a protector or partner. Even a nuclear-armed Iran would be preferable to Moscow than this prospect.

Putin & Ahmadinejad

Embrace

Moscow has little interest in working with Washington to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons for two important reasons:

First, Moscow has reasonably good — though not untroubled — relations with Tehran. Russian firms profit from selling arms and nuclear technology to Iran, and Russian petroleum firms are actively seeking to invest in the Iranian oil and gas sectors. Moscow is also deeply appreciative that Tehran has not supported Chechen or other Muslim rebels in Russia, or challenged Moscow’s influence in Central Asia and the Caucasus.

Moscow does not want to jeopardize any of this by seriously cooperating with Washington against Tehran. What Moscow would prefer instead is that others — the United States, Europe, Israel, or some combination — take the lead in confronting Tehran on the nuclear issue. If they succeed in getting Iran to halt its efforts, then Russia gains by avoiding the strategic challenge of having another nuclear power in its neighborhood. But if they fail to halt this activity, Moscow prefers that these actors — and not Russia — be the focus of Iran’s ire. This is especially true if Iran actually acquires nuclear weapons.

May 20, 2009 Posted by | Russia | , , , | Leave a comment