Saturday, January 28, 2006

To Love the Bear: Counter-Jihad or Cold War Continued ?

Lets forget HAMAS for a minute and focus on something far more interesting and world-changing: Iran.

Popular mandate: check.

WASHINGTON — Despite persistent disillusionment with the war in Iraq, a majority of Americans supports taking military action against Iran if that country continues to produce material that can be used to develop nuclear weapons, a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll has found. The poll, conducted Sunday through Wednesday, found that 57% of Americans favor military intervention if Iran’s Islamic government pursues a program that could enable it
to build nuclear arms.

Sayonara, mullah? Sadly not quite. The popular mandate is surprising and welcome, but far from sufficient. There is the little matter of global energy interests, not just Iran's own huge oil production, but the potential destruction of oil production and supply across the Gulf. There is also Russian support for Iran (remember the Russian strategic nuclear arsenal)? Russia has no illusions about Iran, but must choose the lesser of two evils. Recent belliigirence by the US - including the Orange Mistake, cynical interference in Ukrainan politics that moved Ukraine out of the Russian sphere of influence - is a far more clear and present danger to the Russian Federation than even Iranian nukes aimed at Southern Russia (now in range) or Chechen rebels trained in Iran. Russia has gone so far as to build nuclear reactors for Iran, provide diplomatic cover for Iran's Manhattan Project and supplying Hamas with Grad Missles, Syria with Strela anti-aircraft systems and god knows what else to Iran. They do all this even while Arab jihadi terrorists (call them Al Qaeda if you like) fight side by side with Chechens and other Caucasian Muslims against Russia, causing horrific slaughters of civilians larger than any in Israel, culminating in Beslan.
This may seem contradictory but actually not too surprising given that Great War on Terror has been about containing Russia as much as it has been about fighting Islamism. The last four years have seen US troops placed in almost all ex-Soviet republics, forming a ring of steel around Russia. The Baltic states are in the EU. Ukraine is no longer a friend of Russia, and the future of the strategic Black Sea fleet in Sebastopol in the Crimea is uncertain. Passage to the Russian enclave of Transdniestr is not secure, and the Russian community there is in danger.
So, the solution is simple: the if the US wants to win WW IV they must put WW III on hold, and do what they did in WW II: make an ally of Russia against something far more sinister.
There is a counterargument to this, and that is that nothing threatens the security of the US like the Russian nuclear arsenal, and that forcing Russia to dismantle it has always been the main if unstated goal of US security policy.
The counter-counter argument here is that Russians are not suicidal. The question is not how many nukes they have but rather how likely they are to use any of them, and under what circumstances. Meanwhile the President of Iran seems to be actively working towards the end of the world, and lauds violent "martyrdom" as a worthy death, and the mullahs are racing towards their nuke...
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