The Road To Armageddon
by HERBERT LONDON
June 2, 2010
The road map to Armageddon has been established. Recently the Obama administration gave Moscow two concessions that in my judgment could have alarming influence on the course of current history: lifting sanctions against the Russian military complex and agreeing not to ban the sale of advanced anti-aircraft batteries to Iran.
Presumably these concessions were given as “carrots” after Russia agreed to a package of United Nations’ sanctions against Iran. While the U.N. resolution bans weapons sales to Tehran, it would not prohibit Moscow from completing the sale of S-300 anti-aircraft missiles, a contract that was suspended due to pressure from the U.S. and Israel, but not cancelled. This sophisticated defensive system complicates any military option against Iran’s nuclear facilities.
These concessions are the latest moves by the administration to bolster U.S.-Russian relations and might be considered an adjunct to the Start agreement on nuclear delivery systems. However, administration spokesmen said this understanding was not a quid pro quo for Russian acceptance of sanctions, a denial that seems inconsistent with the timing of the decision.
Most significantly, the concessions are “premature and unwarranted” according to David Kramer, a former State Department official. A Russian transfer of the anti-missile system is far more significant by any standard than the resolution of sanctions. John Bolton, former acting Ambassador to the United Nations, argued that the Russians got the upper hand. They sensed desperation on the Obama team and “extracted all that the traffic would bear.”
If the Russians do deliver the S-300 missiles – now that the U.S. has granted a green light – Israel will be placed in an untenable position. Either Israel attacks before the system is employed or it is obliged to consider logistical complications and more losses than anticipated in any raid. For months Israeli diplomats have been shuttling to Moscow in an effort to prevent deployment. Now the U.S. – its presumptive ally – has undermined, perhaps thwarted, the Israeli military option.
What this U.S. decision suggests is that the U.S. will do whatever is necessary to secure Russian assistance on sanctions even if it means subverting Israeli military options. However, if past history is any guide and if the Turkey – Brazil initiative on Iranian nuclear refinement is taken seriously, sanctions emanating from the Security Council - even with Russian acquiescence – aren’t likely to have any effect. It would appear that U.S. diplomacy on this matter has failed with the concessions to Russia as a kind of “hail Mary” pass into the end zone.
An objective reading of this scenario indicates U.S. weakness on every level. The Iranian aren’t the least bit perturbed by the prospect of sanctions because they know once the Chinese get their hands on the final document, “teeth” will be removed. The Brazilians and Turks aren’t worried about their effort to out-maneuver U.S. diplomacy because the Obama administration has neither the stomach nor the will to punish them.
The only casualty is Israel, an ally the Obama team has consistently repudiated or attempted to weaken. Now the ball is in the Israeli court and while the consequence of war is horrific, the failure of U.S. diplomacy has left Israel without an alternative. Facing an existential threat now exacerbated by the likely deployment of the S-300 system, the timetable for attack has probably been accelerated.
For those who thought the world would be more peaceful after Obama was elected, look again. War clouds are gathering as diplomats dither. Alliances are made with concessions; the other side of these transactions gives very little and gets a lot. And our enemies are bemused by the apparent weakness of the United States and its continued retreat from the realities of global events.
FamilySecurityMatters.orgContributing EditorHerbert Londonis president of Hudson Institute and professor emeritus of New York University. He is the author of Decade of Denial (Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, 2001) and America's Secular Challenge (Encounter Books).