In a column analyzing Russia’s recent threat to rethink its position on Iran, Walter Russell Mead and his staff at The American Interest postulated, “Linking the Ukraine crisis with the Iran negotiation is an American nightmare; it might just be a Russian dream come true.” Mead is on to something; however, he stops short in his analysis. Russia’s threat could also be quite helpful to Israel.
Obama entered into the Iran negotiations in order to avoid a military confrontation, as well as to constrain the “true barrier” to peace in the region – Israel. His hope was to bide time, notwithstanding that Iran’s centrifuges would continue to spin, bringing its nuclear capability to the brink or to fruition.
If Iran does in fact go nuclear on Obama’s watch, so be it; he will proceed to sell containment to the American public for the little time left in his term. The carnival salesmen in the White House are quite talented at selling the American people a bill of goods – just look at ObamaCare. While Russia invades a European country and threatens all-out war, the administration spends $52 million of taxpayer funds in just three months on advertising this debacle. One can only imagine what they will spend to convince Americans that a nuclear Iran poses no threat to our national security.
Alas, since reality has yet to penetrate the White House bubble, Obama has likely never lost sleep thinking about Iran’s nuclear capabilities (his Baracketology, next vacation, and golf game, perhaps, but national security, not so much) – that is, until Vladimir Putin stepped into the picture.
Obama’s failure to realize that he is now unmasked as a fool on the world stage does not mean that the rest of the world’s leaders have not noticed. It is not a coincidence that just six months after Putin manipulated Obama out of bombing Syria despite its having crossed Obama’s disingenuous red line, Putin took to annexing Crimea from Ukraine. And Putin did so despite a U.S. promise to protect Ukraine. As one Ukranian parliamentarian stated, “[e]veryone believed that for good or bad the United States would be the world’s policeman. Now that function is being abandoned by President Obama, and because of that Russia invaded Crimea.”
So Mead is correct that linking Ukraine with Iran is good policy for Russia while thrusting Obama into a nightmarish situation. It will cause Obama to quake in his mom-jeans and further diminish American power. Obama has already stated that he will not act militarily in response to the Ukrainian situation. What are his choices if Russia acts on its threat and allies with Iran? Cancel Putin’s Netflix account?
But linking Ukraine and Iran just might be an Israeli dream come true as well. Mead stated, “The Obama strategy has always been a risky one; if Russia shifts into active cooperation with Iran, it is hard to see how the White House can keep hope alive.” True enough.
But if Russia moves into Iran’s camp, Israel has the perfect excuse to move ahead with a military strike on Iran’s nuclear installations and will likely have the support of the entire Western world (in addition to America’s Mideast allies like Saudi Arabia), all of which will be relieved that at least someone is standing up to the bad guys.
Middle East and foreign policy experts have vacillated for years analyzing Israel’s capability to conduct a successful unilateral military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities, guessing when it might proceed, and wondering whether the United States is holding Israel back from doing so. Some ask why U.S. support is a necessary prerequisite to an Israeli strike that is in Israel’s own national security interests. One need only look at a map of the region and the fact that the country, the size of the state of New Jersey and only nine miles wide at its narrowest point, is surrounded by 21 Arab nations, the vast majority of whom are adversaries, to understand Israel’s need for supportive friends.