Weakness towards Russia now will encourage Iran 0

 From an article in the Jerusalem Post:

Russia’s move into Georgia will have ramifications far beyond the Caucasus. It will send a shiver down the spines of decision-makers in countries such as Poland, Ukraine and Kazakhstan, all of whom might now think twice before deepening their romances with the West.

And if allowed to go unanswered, the attack on Georgia will strengthen Russia’s resolve to further undercut key Western interests.

THAT IS where Iran comes into play. The ayatollahs are glued to their television screens, waiting to see how the West responds. After all, in recent years Moscow has stood by Iran’s side in the face of mounting Western pressure. Russia has been supplying Iran with materials for its nuclear program. And the Kremlin is planning to ship advanced anti-aircraft systems to the Iranians that are aimed at making it harder for Israel or the US to take out their nuclear installations.

While Moscow has thus far voted in favor of three UN Security Council resolutions imposing sanctions on Teheran, it has only done so after it succeeded in watering them down and delaying their implementation.

But a newly emboldened Russia will prove to be even more troublesome when it comes time to confront Iran and stop its drive toward nuclear weapons.

If Putin sees that the West is a paper tiger and allows Georgia to be trampled, then he likely will not hesitate to block additional Western efforts to strip Iran of its nuclear ambitions. An atomic Iran, Putin realizes, would further expose the powerlessness of the West, as well as heighten its sense of vulnerability. Consequently, he may be tempted to defy the West yet again, on an issue even closer to its heart, in an effort to push the envelope.

The ayatollahs know this all too well, and will be encouraged to continue their mad drive for atomic power, confident in the knowledge that they have little to fear.

It is therefore essential that strong and immediate measures be taken to punish Russia for its Georgian adventure and strip it of any illusions it may have about a lack of Western resolve. These might include moving quickly to bring Georgia formally into NATO, suspending Russia’s membership in the "Group of 8" leading industrialized nations and freezing talks recently launched with the European Union on a new EU-Russia agreement.

Whatever course is decided upon, Moscow must be made to pay a heavy economic, political and diplomatic price for its actions, lest it persist in causing still greater harm.

 

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, August 13, 2008

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