Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Putin & The Mullahs
Next time you hear about Iran belonging to a global movement intent on "collapsing" western powers and installing a worldwide Islamic caliphate, keep this in mind. Putin's Russia, remember, is not only a secular regional power. It has also brutally suppressed an Islamic insurgency in Chechnya for the past decade. Yet that hasn't stopped him from establishing a pretty solid working relationship with the "irresponsible" and "unreliable" mullahs in Tehran.
America's conflict with Iran has everything to do with regional strategic interests, and very little to do with Islamic fanaticism. It's just easier (for both sides) to use the latter to mobilize the base.
Update: Click "Publish", find related article. From The Economist:
What did Iranís leaders see when they looked into Vladimir Putinís eyes? Apparently somebody to do business with. As outsiders watched carefully for signs of Russiaís intentions regarding Iranís nuclear programme, Mr Putin arrived in Tehran, Iranís capital, and appeared to show support for the countryís nuclear efforts. ďThe Iranians are co-operating with Russian nuclear agencies and the main objectives are peaceful objectivesĒ, he said.
The article goes on to identify Russia's reasons for not wanting to see a nuclear-armed Iran. But the takeaway is that twenty years after the revolution, the Iranians are businessmen at heart. The only thing that sustains the firebrands is a bellicose rival threatening their sovereignty.
Negotiating is only a sign of weakness if you are indeed weak (ie. Chamberlain in Munich). Not only does it do no harm to talk things over when you've got the strength to stand by your bargaining position. It also undermines the position of diehards on the other side of the table, whose power depends on demonizing you to their base.