Via Closing Velocity, reliably tender red meat from the ‘Stache. On one side of the debate: Charles Krauthammer and Ace, wondering why Obama would tease Russia with cancellation of the European missile shield in return for help with Iran when everyone knows he’s inclined to cancel the shield anyway. The offer was bound to fail and U.S. prestige bound to suffer as a result. On the other side: German media, enthralled at how The One has changed the moral calculus or something.
Obama’s plan kills two birds with one stone, too. It offers the US a chance to back out of a plan with questionable applicability and technological feasibility while at the same time forcing Russia out of the position of the aggrieved. But Obama’s tactical maneuvering is aggressively defensive; it tacitly forces Russia to show the world whether it is willing to give up extensive trade and lucrative arms and technology deals with Iran in order to help calm growing fears about Iran’s developing a nuclear bomb.
Do either Putin or Medvedev give a wet rip whether the world perceives them as “aggrieved” or indifferent to the Iranian nuclear threat? This reads like a parody of internationalist “consensus-building”: Obama’s offer has, it seems, reshaped the consensus so that Russia is now seen as the problem partner, not those cowboys in Washington. That it hasn’t done anything to reshape Iran’s nuclear capacity is, evidently, of secondary concern.
Then again, it wouldn’t matter even if the offer was accepted, according to Global Security:
Globalsecurity.org’s John Pike see an entirely different shadow game at play. “Russia has neither the ability nor the interest to pressurize Iran into giving up its nuclear weapons program. It is one way the Americans can ‘engage’ the Russians, so as to not appear to be a Bush rootin’ tootin’ cowboy. But it is no more than a means to give diplomats something to talk about,” he tells Danger Room. “It is a way of putting the ball back into their court, so few months down the road we can say that we gave them the chance, [and] it is not our fault that we are forced to deploy BMD [ballisitc missile defense] components in central Europe.”
All of this is premised on the large assumption that The One intends to go ahead with the missile shield, which is highly uncertain. If he does intend to, then the German spin makes sense: The offer becomes a way of making it look as though Russia’s forced his hand by refusing to help with Iran. If he doesn’t intend to — and it sure sounds like he doesn’t given his comments yesterday about “rebooting” our relationship with Moscow — then what’s the point of asking Russia for help when he knows they can’t get Iran to give up its nukes even if they want to? Either he’s so desperate for a Plan B that he’s willing to try a Hail Mary (not impossible given Hillary’s dim expectations for negotiations with Iran) or he’s so eager for any pretext to cancel the missile shield that he’s willing to accept even something as feeble and futile as a Russian promise to “pressure” Iran in exchange. I know which way I’m betting.