Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Russian Gambit

As we soon enter the fall season, the talk of a strike, a conflict, even a war against Iran grows louder and louder.

While Israel is extremely worried and increases its military readiness and the United States timidly drag their feet into uncertainty, Iran keeps a steady course and presses on the accelerator.

In the past weeks stories have surfaced that Israel could launch a preemptive strike in September or October, ahead of the US election. This time, it might be for real, as the increase in intensity of the covert operations against Iranian nuclear interests in the past year might indicate.

It is clear now that the US and the EU are not capable of deescalating the tensions, and the UN Security Council resolutions are not diminishing Iranian resolve. Further attempts on their behalf at this point would likely be futile.

What can the world do to deescalate the conflict?

In my opinion there is one but option left: to call on Russia. Give Putin, Medvedev and Lavrov all the tools, the leverage, the latitude and the trust that is necessary to try and turn down the dial through the political back channels, for the sake of avoiding another bloody conflict in the Middle East.

Russia is a historical behemoth that has known all the plagues. Russians are no strangers to the ugliness of war, the fear of terrorism and political instability. It is a nation in which might is right, for better or for worse, but that can be an effective game changer if treated with respect and truly empowered to make a difference.

While some could argue that Russia’s efforts towards Iran have been counterproductive in the past, insisting with their diplomatic authorities that the last thing the world’s largest nation needs is a war over nuclear matters on its southern front, not too far from the Caucasus, could be a simple yet effective incentive.

Vladimir Putin’s return to the presidency, his will to assert Russia’s presence on the international stage and to restore the nation’s glory might worry some; however the West playing its cards right with Russia, with whom it shares a considerable culture, could help steer the country into becoming a proud yet truly responsible international actor, while bolstering their pride and help the West achieve is foreign policy goals.

It is time to give Russia an opportunity to shine, for all our sakes, before we venture past the point of no return. It is time to let Moscow lead one last diplomatic ballet, in order to avoid a belligerent mosh pit.

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