I believe that much of the overblown rhetoric about Iran is just that. For all the bellicosity from the Bush administration, I don't believe that we even have the capacity to expand the war into Iran. That said, incidents such as this week's cringe-inducing press conference remain troubling. But it seems that Vladimir Putin may have just saved George Bush (and us) from himself, as Srdka Trifkovic reports here.
Trifkovic posits that "Mr. Putin is effectively helping President George W. Bush avoid an adventure that would bring ruin to all involved, save the promoters of an Islamic end-times scenario." He is referring, of course, to the recent Caspian Summit in Tehran. The Declaration at the summit, signed by Russia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan, effectively preempts any threat to the existing balance of power, by any non-Caspian state. As he notes, there will be no "Operation Iranian Freedom" for the remainder of the Bush presidency. Trifkovic concludes:
If there is one thing to be thankful to Mr. Bush, it is for his unwitting contribution to the emergence of a multipolar world. External restraint, unimaginable a decade ago, is being imposed on America. It is dictated by the perfectly normal desire of Russians, Chinese, Indians and many smaller nations, to prove—contrary to Mr. Bush’s repeated assurances— that “History” has not called America to anything.
It is to be hoped that the emerging new global balance of power will reflect internationally what the system of checks and balances does at home. Its re-establishment will render ludicrous the hubristic ravings of Benevolent Global Hegemonists. It will also help re-legitimize the notion of America as a nation among other nations and a state among other states, with definable and limited national interests as the foundation of its diplomacy. Contrary to what Mr. Bush and his dwindling band of apologists may claim, this is neither defeatism nor isolationism; it is sanity.
Why a resurgent Russia just now? It's not hard to figure out, and it's not just about the oil. Pat Buchanan sums it up here, better than most. His conclusion is damning and spot on:
At the Cold War's end, the United States was given one of the great opportunities of history: to embrace Russia, largest nation on earth, as partner, friend, ally. Our mutual interests meshed almost perfectly. There was no ideological, territorial, historic or economic quarrel between us, once communist ideology was interred.
We blew it.
We moved NATO onto Russia's front porch, ignored her valid interests and concerns, and, with our "indispensable-nation" arrogance, treated her as a defeated power, as France treated Weimar Germany after Versailles.
Who restarted the Cold War? Bush and the braying hegemonists he brought with him to power. Great empires and tiny minds go ill together.