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Iranian Sanctions: Russia Makes A U-Turn

Not that some of us are at all surprised (for the umpteenth time, “Russia is not our friend”):

“At the current stage, all forces should be thrown at supporting the negotiating process,” he said. “Threats, sanctions and threats of pressure in the current situation, we are convinced, would be counterproductive.”

With that, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov effectively killed any US hopes found in Russian President Dmitri A. Medvedev statement that “in some cases, sanctions are inevitable” of three weeks ago. As was predicted by many, the unilateral withdrawal of plans to base a missile defense in eastern Europe, an obvious attempt to better relations with Russia, yielded nothing.

Russia’s support is key to getting U.N. Security Council approval of any sanctions, but the country has traditionally been cautious on confronting Iran, a key trading partner and neighbor. In recent years, however, Russia has grown increasingly concerned about indications that Iran could be developing nuclear weapons, analysts say. Iran insists that its program is aimed only at producing energy.

Lavrov told reporters that Russia wants to focus on negotiations for now — particularly the concessions made by Iran this month, after the revelation that it had built a secret nuclear facility near Qom. Under heavy international pressure, the Islamic republic agreed to admit inspectors and send much of its uranium to Russia for enrichment.

Also key to any UNSC approval of sanctions is China – and they’re not at all sold on sanctions either.

However, as noted in the paragraph above, it is Iran which is in the driver’s seat here, not the US. Iran has again outmaneuvered everyone by officially revealing its “secret” nuclear facility near Qom and agreeing to allow it to be inspected. That move has effectively given the Russians the wiggle room they need to back away from imposing sanctions.  Iran has years of experience manipulating this process and has once again had its way.

Meanwhile, as Marty Peretz says, Hillary Clinton’s team was engaged in trying to make a “cupcake out of a turd”:

Senior administration officials said that the differences are tactical rather than substantive. Both sides agreed that Iran would face sanctions if it failed to carry out its obligations, a State Department official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

Which, of course means that nothing of substance came out of the talks. Such an agreement is the same agreement they had going into the talks. In essence, Russia turned the clock back on this process. And again, a reminder that China, a country whose support would be critical if sanctions are to be imposed, is nowhere on the playing field at the moment.

Anyway, to claim that differences are “tactical rather than substantive” is to try to hand wave away the fact that Russia is not presently on board to increase sanctions anytime soon when everyone was led to believe, just three weeks ago, that it was. I think that truly does represent a “reset”, but not in the way the Obama administration had hoped.

~McQ

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37 Responses to Iranian Sanctions: Russia Makes A U-Turn

  • Once again we have an example of the Obama “Carrot and Stick” approach to Foreign Policy – Sans the stick! After kneeling to the Soviets, er-uh I mean Russians, regarding the missile defense of Eastern Europe and hoping for some sort of reciprocity, the US gets buptkus out of the deal and are made to look the fool for going hat-in-hand to the Soviets, er-uh I mean Russians, asking for assistance vis-a-vis Iranian sanctions.

    Today they are laughing at us behind our backs. I wonder how soon that laughter will be in our face for all to see – and join!

  • WOW…Obama gets NOTHING for pulling missle defense?

    Amateur.

    • Well he had us betray allies that we encouraged to stick their necks out and in doing so, strengthened the anti-American pro-Russia forces in all the former Eastern block countries.

      So don’t say he got nothing.

  • There is never going to be a clear Obama foreign policy. If it ever gets off of the anti-American premises that undergird it, it will swing into hapless overreaction to events that it precipitated through signals of weakness.

    If you don’t like Obama being weak, wait until you see him trying to prove he’s strong.

    Just take a look at the Nixonian declaration this week by the White House that Fox News is an enemy of the state. In Nixon’s defense, he was an adept at foreign policy, and his paranoia about the liberal media sprung from his dismay at being so loathed by it. Obama wants the media in perfect harmony in support of him. He can’t handle a dissenting voice. If Nixon was paranoid, what do you call Obama?

    Extend that into how he will overreact in foreign policy when his own weakness precipitates crises.

    • Foudn this comment over at TNR …

      HRC’s 3 a.m. campaign ad about Obama was only 1/24th right.
      It’s not just 3 a.m., it’s the other 23 hours, too.

  • I just cannot understand it…especially when we have a President who with the sweep of his hand promised to “change the world.”

    Change my arse. That wasn’t change – it was the whole world laughing at our disgusting naiveté.

    This story once again begs the question: what has The Clown™ done to deserve a Nobel Peace Prize? Three words come to mind: nada, zip, and zilch.

  • Pulling the missile defense was in our interest, done because it was a horrible plan made simply to pay off those who supported the misguided war in Iraq. Obama was right to do that, regardless of how Russia reacts.

    China, Russia and Iran are working their own balance of power game in a world where the US has been proven less powerful. Failures in Iraq, Afghanistan and with the US economy has weakened the US. Iran has oil that China needs. China has a long history of valuing sovereignty and rejecting sanctions. The idea China would go along with sanctions is slim. We can’t pressure China — they finance our current account deficit and our budget deficit — so I’m not sure what we could offer them. Russia is far weaker than China, and not as relevant to the US any more anyway. Russia has reverted to being a European power, and the EU – Russian relationship is more important than the US-Russian relationship.

    But while some of you may want to remain in denial, this is how politics operate in a “post-American hegemony” era. Blame Obama if you want (it’s politically and ideologically convenient for you to do so), but the reasons for this decline came from policies of the last twenty or so years. America is now more of an equal to the other powers than a superior.

    • made simply to pay off those who supported the misguided war in Iraq

      **

      So by your own words, you support shiving those allies of ours who supported us and rewarding our enemies (with no reciprocation)

      FAIL.

      • I don’t think we owe anything to Poland or the Czech Republic, we should make policy based on our national interest. Bush’s foreign policy as amateurish in his first administration, and Obama is having to clean up the mess (to be sure, Bush started the process after 2006 when he handed more authority to Gates and Rice). Talk about ‘rewarding enemies’ is silly, as is the weird distinction you try to make between ‘enemies and friends.’ This is foreign policy, not third grade playground antics.

        • I don’t think we owe anything to Poland or the Czech Republic, we should make policy based on our national interest

          ***

          You’re right, we don’t owe ANYTHING to those who helped us?

          I’d think rewarding allies and friends is in our national interest?

          Oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooookay

          Talk about ‘rewarding enemies’ is silly, as is the weird distinction you try to make between ‘enemies and friends.’ This is foreign policy, not third grade playground antics.

          Um…..making distinctions between friends and enemies is “weird”?

          Dude, you’re officially an F-Tard. You better know who your friends and enemies are in EVERY situation, be it the playground, your neighborhood or foreign affairs.

          You’re worthless as is but man, sometimes you’re good to bust out a whopper like that one. Holy smokes.

          • Oh, Shark, you like to hurl impotent insults but you really don’t understand world politics. I’m glad that the countries that were bought off by Bush are not benefiting. I don’t consider them to be friends, but mere opportunists who really did us no benefit except to allow Bush to use propaganda and claim an inflated count of countries supporting him. Second, you miss the point — most countries are neither friends nor enemies in any simplistic sense (and that’s the sense your posts seem to have). Rather, we have complex relationships with various countries around different issues. Russia may not be a “friend,” but its certainly not an enemy. China isn’t a close friend, but a necessary partner who finances our debt. I really recommend you take my summer on line course on American foreign policy, I think it would help you understand some of the complexities.

          • I’m glad that the countries that were bought off by Bush are not benefiting. I don’t consider them to be friends

            Of course you wouldn’t. They’re traditionally at odds with Russia….

            but mere opportunists who really did us no benefit except to allow Bush to use propaganda and claim an inflated count of countries supporting him.

            Except they DID support us.

            Second, you miss the point — most countries are neither friends nor enemies in any simplistic sense (and that’s the sense your posts seem to have). Rather, we have complex relationships with various countries around different issues.

            Hogwash. All relationships are complex but at the end of the day you know where on the ledger these countries go.

            Russia may not be a “friend,” but its certainly not an enemy.

            You’re kidding, right?

            China isn’t a close friend, but a necessary partner who finances our debt.

            Necessary partner maybe. Enemy? Most definitely

            I really recommend you take my summer on line course on American foreign policy, I think it would help you understand some of the complexities

            And I recommend you go suck a lemon. I’m quite happy with my “simple” grasp of things thank you. I prefer my moral clarity to whatever it is you represent.

    • Watch the jerk’s knee jerk

    • Scott, you do not know anything about geopolitics or foreign policy.

      American strength, as strategic guarantor and fair broker, has been essential to global peace and security and to the vast expansion of the global economy. That doesn’t just benefit the U.S., it benefits the entire world.

      Weakening the U.S. position is an invitation to instability.

      You simply do not know your own academic field. If I could I would warn every student who walks through the door of your classroom that they shouldn’t give an ounce of credence to what you say, because you live in an alternate reality, and probably that they shouldn’t challenge you to your face, because you are petty and vindictive.

    • Assuming that the missle shield was a bad plan, we should have made it a consession for Russian help with Iran. And we should have pulled out in such a way that our Eastern European friends got something out of the deal.

      Obama’s unilateral pullout was pure idiocy. And that’s even if you are correct that it was a bad plan, which is doubtful.

    • Erb,

      With respect to American “decline”, the issue is not actual US decline but the rise of China and India. Europe is much more in decline than the US. Russia is in decline. The US continues strong, unless Obama’s policies push us towards a “European solution” and consequent failure.

      The US has to expect that eventually countries like China or India will improve, and take a bigger piece of the pie. In the ’80s, the American left expected Japan to surpase the US; they were wrong, but that does not mean that China and India will turn out the same.

      • Oh, and to add: the big domestic problems America faces are due to government intervention. The Clinton/Carter housing bubble and resulting crisis, FDR’s social security, LBJ’s medicare, medicaid, and welfare, Carter’s rejection of breeder reactors, the Endangered Species Act, the environmentalist attacks on oil, coil, autos, power plants, drilling, etc., and the insane push of margional energy technology like solar and wind.

        Our key problems date back to the 30′s and FDR’s New Deal. Obama, with ObamaCare and Cap & Tax promises more harm.

        Despite this, we remain the world’s sole superpower. But with the effort of the domestic left, China likely will catch up, at the very least much sooner than otherwise.

      • First, declines and rises are all relative. The relative power of the US is in decline. Though high debt, current account deficits, and the proven limitations of US military power in recent costly conflicts also suggest an absolute lose of power and influence in the world. But what matters is always relative measures. Also, it’s not just China and India, it’s Iran, the EU, Japan, and other states. We’re moving towards a truly multipolar system with shifting alliances (often alliances around a short term issue). It’s a fascinating and rather speedy transformation.

        The best way for the US to reverse the trend is: a) get our economic house in order; 2) recognize the limits of military power and undertake a less militaristic foreign policy; 3) address the “Lippmann gap” – the gap between our commitments and our capacities; and 4) engage in diplomacy that recognizes that other states will have governments different than our own. Ultimately the biggest factor in terms of our power is our economy.

  • Barack Obama, Nobel laureate. and sucker.

  • In a post-American world, quid pro quo is still the correct way to negotiate stuff. I guess Erb missed that class.

    • If the missile system is a waste of money and a bad idea, it’s best to just end it, even if Russia gives us nothing. My guess is Russia knew it was worthless, but was using it for domestic propaganda as much as anything else.

      • Well, are you saying, Scott, that the Russians were using you to spread that propaganda?

        The missile defense in Poland and the Czech Republic was about something, Scott. First, about history, which is still running, and second about the reality of ballistic missiles.

        So, those missiles were indeed “worthless” to the Russians and Iranians, but not to the Poles and the Czechs.

      • “even if Russia gives us nothing”

        A few weeks ago it was supposedly blatantly obvious that a deal was made. Now there’s an if.

  • If the Law Library of Congress Director of Legal Research report on Honduras is to be believed (not to mention a story that the UN concurs), “Smart Diplomacy” is quickly heading for the “ash heap of history“.

  • I predict that, in another case of “history started Jan. 20, 2009″, this will be blamed on the lack of support at home from Conservatives behind Obama that caused this reversal.

    In fact, they might get specific and say the gloating over the loss of the Olympics that is directly responsible.

  • Looks like there is a new cowboy in town …

    In an interview published today in Izvestia, Nikolai Patrushev, the secretary of the Kremlin’s security council, said the new doctrine offers “different options to allow the use of nuclear weapons, depending on a certain situation and intentions of a would-be enemy. In critical national security situations, one should also not exclude a preventive nuclear strike against the aggressor.”

  • Does anybody know the Russian word / phrase for, “SUCKER!”

    Alternately, I will accept:

    chump

    fool

    dupe

    mark

    pushover

    patsy

    loser

    pigeon

    sap

    putz

    schmuck

    dope

    • How about:
      chumpski
      foolski
      dupeski
      markski
      pushoverski
      patsyski
      loserski
      pigeonski
      sapski
      putzski
      schmuckski

      and the ever popular
      dopeski

      Mind you, I only learned very rudimentary Roooossian.

  • Ayatollah Khamenei has died. The formal announcement is expected to be made tomorrow morning (Tehran time).

    There are said to be many tears (of joy) in Tehran.

    • This could get very interesting. The hard liners were weakened by elections to the Guardian Council recently (even though some people don’t understand that Iran is far more democratic than much of the third world). There is a shift in power in Iran moving slowly in a positive direction. As long as the paranoid don’t do something idiotic like start a war (which would only help the extremists), things could start getting much better.

      • Moving in a positive direction? Developing nuclear weapons while talking about annihilating Israel cannot be read as a positive direction.

        That’s like saying that Kristalnacht was a positive direction because it was just a lot of glass being broken.

    • Countdown to blaming the Jooooos in 5 … 4 … 3 …

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