Monday, April 10, 2006
Gas, Russia, Realism
As with the Iraq war, so with Russia: we have had an opportunity to "test" the theories of the pundits. The prevailing rage: that we could have a selective relationship with Russia that would not compromise vital U.S. interests. That theory only works, as it did during World War II, if the threat posed to one side is equally a threat to the other. We don't have convergence on Iran.
So we have several choices.
One choice, and one whose proponents I respect for their consistency, is to argue that Russia in the end does not matter or cannot or will not offer any real assistance. Therefore pursuing a policy of neo-containment in the Eurasian space should not depend on Iran policy since the United States should be prepared to shoulder the burden of dealing with Iran without Russian assistance.
If Iran is such a major threat to the United States, as both the president and the secretary of state have stated in recent weeks, the "number one" national security priority, then it is a bit surprising that we don't seem more concerned. If we think we need international assistance for dealing with Iran, then isn't it time to start the negotiations with China, Russia, etc.?
I think that we continue to have a great deal of unrealism in this town that difficult problems must have cost-free solutions. I again commend the Lang/Johnson piece on Iran in the current issue--outlining every course of action against Iran (including doing nothing) and pointing out that all of them have high costs.
Clearly, his advice has been ignored.
As for Iran, I wish all options were indeed on the table. (I have in mind positive ideas that Goerge Perkovich had discussed in 2005.) Instead, violence seems to be the currency of the realm.