Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Putin, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Howard/Obama

A second commentary on Putin's Munich speech by James Davis is now available at TNI--to continue our discussion from yesterday.

Putin got red-carpet treatment in the Middle East--especially in the strongholds of America's Sunni allies that President Bush praised in his state of the union. My sense--even our close associates are looking for some maneuvering room vis-a-vis the United States.

Never expected to hear Graham Allison agree with John Bolton? Read his interview.

A take from "down under" on the Howard-Obama spat.

I wonder if our allies in the Arab world are also maneuvering vis-a-vis Iran. The Los Angeles Times reports today that Putin has offered to consider supplying nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia, which heads a consortium of Arab countries interested in developing nuclear energy.

I wonder what Iran thinks about this. The question for them right now must be whether Russia will stall on delivering fuel to the Bushehr reactor or begin deliveries in March as scheduled.
King Abdullah probably feels more comfortable with Putin these days. No questions about women drivers, no criticisms of the Mecca accords, no complaints about lowering oil prices.

The US is putting a lot of pressure and I think the Saudis like having some options.
The Arab states are leveraging the Bush Administration's domestic interest in undermining Iran to make themselves indispensable regional partners, and therefore block and deny their own reformist constituencies. This includes, but is not limited to, forming whatever partnerships with multipolar alternatives might be available, as long as they have even less interest in human rights than the United States.

Russia qualifies.

On the plus side, this only adds to the potential for Russia to cooperate with harsh sanctions on Iran, such that Saudi Arabia would enjoy.

Jordan W. '02
By the way, this is a further example of how the third wave of democratization has run its course, false positives notwithstanding. The wind is in favor of a standstill, or even rollback.

A topic I'd like to further explore.

Jordan W. '02
Jordan W.

I think that you are an optimist when you mentioned "stand still". Actually the despotic US allies in the Middle East have to become more despotic and more oppressive to maintain control over their populations.
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