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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

SEASON OF DISCONTENT: Piqued 'Elite' Wastes Chance In Iran Clash




Finally, it seems, our political class has found that elusive unifying Russian idea it has been so anxiously seeking - anti-Americanism.


"They want to punish us for having our own independent foreign policy, for the creative sorties of Russian political thought, for the bold notion of a strategic triangle of Russia, India and China," runs the current motif of articles in the country's leading liberal publications.


But Russia has already seen to its own punishment for what can at best be described as ill-conceived idea of a strategic triangle, receiving an icy rebuff from the Chinese government the same day the idea was voiced. Moreover, as is the case in any normal state, U.S. policy is driven not by some urge to punish or encourage, but above all by its national interests. And if Russia is to effectively protect its own national interests, it would do well to have a realistic rather than mythological idea of the interests of the other players on the world stage.


Denying radical regimes and movements hostile to the United States access to nuclear and missile technology is increasingly emerging as the leading priority of U.S. foreign policy. It is debatable just how much the real threat has been exaggerated by the Americans, and whether this concern is not just some kind of national phobia, but that's not important. The point is that this concern exists and is an area of great sensitivity for the United States.


For this reason the United States has negotiated long and hard with Moscow with the goal of ensuring that Russia's technical cooperation with Iran at a state level is discontinued, and that tougher control is imposed on private Russian companies and institutes working in this field.


Formally speaking, Moscow's legal position is watertight. The construction by Russia of Iran's first atomic power plant in Bushehr is being supervised by the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the education and training of Iranian students and post-graduates doesn't violate any international agreements. But everyone knows that the interval between the completion of the first working Iranian reactor to completion of the first Iranian nuclear bomb will be no longer than the time it took to progress from the reactor Enrico Fermi finished building in Chicago in December 1942 to the first nuclear detonation in Alamogordo in July 1945.


It all boils down to the United States asking a big favor of Russia in a sphere that means a great deal to it. Accordingly this gives Russia an opportunity to initiate a serious dialogue about mutual strategic interests like, for example, the broad application of Russian missile defense systems and technology in projects under way for the defense of Europe and other regions from possible terrorist missile strikes.


However, a large and growing section of our "political elite" gets great satisfaction just from making things difficult for the United States, thereby softening the blow of Russia's defeat in the Cold War - a defeat sustained by the members of that same "elite" - and compensating slightly for Russia's unenviable position today, for which those same people are responsible.


These are understandable and maybe even justified feelings, but the price of this pique could be truly enormous. Who, after all, can guarantee that deadly weaponry might only fall into the hands of people like Osama bin Laden, seething with hatred for the United States, and not the warlord Khattab, who is no more kindly disposed toward Russia?