Norman Bailey: The West is losing not because it has a bad strategy, but because it has no strategy
The Russian move is a direct slap in the face of The United States as was intended. The terrible “deal” described accurately as “historic” by Obama (historic surely as in “Munich”) between the six powers and Iran was certain to collapse the sanctions regime eventually, but the Russians not only are anticipating the collapse by not waiting until after June 30th but are precipitating it precisely in the area which has been forbidden longest, namely weapons systems. Which S-300 antiaircraft system will be sold (indeed if any system is ever sold) is not important from this standpoint. Even if WWII-vintage rifles had been sold it would still have violated UN, US and European sanctions dating back years. It is to the advantage of Russia to maintain uncertainty as to the system itself as well as to how many, when shipped and all other details. As one of the great chess masters of all time, in a book entitled “Struggle”, stated: “The Threat is more powerful than the deed”. Indeed.
As a direct result, Israel and the allied Sunni states won’t know how long Israel has to launch an air attack on the Iranian facilities. Delay might be fatal. Or then again, it might not. The threat is more powerful than the deed. This might precipitate an attack to pre-empt the arrival of the missiles. Or again, perhaps not. Or perhaps the whole idea of a military attack should be abandoned. Or perhaps the Iranian infrastructure should be targeted instead. And if so, only the military infrastructure or the economic infrastructure also. Or maybe an EMP attack would be best, which Israel is perfectly capable of launching. But wouldn’t that perhaps spill over into neighboring countries and it would certainly lead to massive chaos and innumerable casualties in Iran and huge international condemnation expressed by UN Security Council resolutions isolating Israel which the United States WOULD NOT VETO.
Overlooked in all this is the reiteration of a deal the Russians offered Iran some time ago, to sell Iran agricultural equipment in a barter deal for Iranian oil and gas. What? What need does Russia have to import oil and gas, which are its only significant exports aside from weapons? Why sure; Russia will sell the Iranian oil and gas abroad and pocket the money that otherwise Iran would have paid directly. Neat. Sanctions circumvented all around. Iran gets what it needs and Russia gets what it needs, namely money, and Iran is able to sell oil and gas after all, albeit indirectly.
The strategic defeat of the West is beginning to reach “historic” proportions, to paraphrase the American president, desperate to finally deserve his Nobel peace prize. Too bad Chamberlain didn’t get one back in 1938. The same kinds of mindless idiots would have applauded it than that applauded the Obama award. The West is losing because it does not just have a bad strategy. It has no strategy at all, and is playing with powers that do indeed have strategies, some better than others, but strategies none the less. In the meantime Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the GCC and Egypt are looking on in horror and suspense and desperately trying to figure out what to do in the face of implacable foes and feckless (former?) allies. Witness the recent revelation that Prime Minister Netanyahu held “secret” meetings with the leader of the Labor Party, Isaac Herzog, exploring the possibility of the formation of a “grand coalition” between their center-right and center-left factions in order to form the next Israeli government, in the face of an existential threat that just became more serious due to decisions made in Lausanne and Moscow.
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Norman A. Bailey is President of the Institute for Global Economic Growth, the author of numerous books and articles and recipient of several honorary degrees, medals and awards and two orders of knighthood. He also teaches economic statecraft at The Institute of World Politics and has experience on the staff of the National Security Council at the White House, in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and in business, consulting and finance.