Monday, October 26, 2009

Obama's Middle East Endgame: Part III - Getting to Moscow through Tehran

Yesterday I caught John Limbert n CSPAN's BookTV talking about his new book: Negotiating With Iran: Wrestling With the Ghosts of History.

Limbert has a Ph.D. from Harvard, has served in the State Department and is currently a professor at the U.S. Naval Academy. When someone in the audience asked him about Iran and Russia, his answer sounded oddly familiar to anyone who reads this blog.

He said that Russia has two great fears:

1. The U.S. will attack Iran
2. The U.S. will normalize relations with Iran

On a couple of firearms/shooting sports related forums where I post regularly (under a pseudonym), I am often castigated for having the crazy idea that Russia and Iran are natural enemies. The other forum users tend to believe what they see on CNN; Russia and Iran are "allies", Russia protects Iran in the U.N. and so on and so forth. I attempt to calmly explain that Persian and Russians have so much historical antipathy, that any "alliance" between Iran and Russia is bound to be fleeting and could easily be torn asunder were the U.S. to make the Iranians a better offer.

So now the Obama administration is trying to find a way to wind down the tension between the U.S. and Iran. This is a sensible policy choice. As soon the Shia/Sunni/Israeli tensions are stabilized in the middle east - both through accepting Iran's status as a de facto nuclear power and through bringing Israel, Jordon, Egypt and the Gulf States under a true "nuclear umbrella" that does more than just guarantees a second strike but also greatly reduces the chances that an Iranian strike would even get through. Once those ducks are in a row Iran will be better positioned to focus its energy on containing Russia.

But that's okay - because that is what Russia wants.

In stabilizing the Middle East through detente - and freeing up Iran to focus its foreign policy energies on fighting global warming - President Obama, Secretary Clinton and Secretary Gates are building a future worth creating. Obama has the potential to be the most successful foreign policy president since Richard Nixon if he manages to normalize relations between the U.S. and Iran before he leaves office.

Now, let's see if the president decides to get interested in building a future worth creating in Afghanistan.


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