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Originally posted by sockmonkey at 2007-10-24 09:35
London Financial Times
Russia and China's Challenge for the West
Dmitry Peskov, official spokesman for the Russian president, likes a joke. Visitors to his ...
Here is a second thought. An article from Newsweek that was also published in today's 'Japan Times'
Iran, China key to U.S. policy in handling Iran
James P. Pinkerton
October 18, 2007
Are we focused on Iran, or not? The Bush administration says that Iran is the greatest threat to our effort in Iraq, to the security of Israel and to the oil-rich Persian Gulf. Indeed, the White House says that Iran is the principal supporter of terrorism around the world. And, oh yes, Tehran is working to get a nuke.
So if all that's true, why are we antagonizing the key countries we'd need to help us against Iran? Why drive away Russia, China and Turkey?
Military strategists have a useful concept: "The Main Effort." It's a simple idea, based on common sense: Concentrate on one thing at a time, first things first.
But of course, in the "fog of war," it's easy to lose sight of the main effort. And so the U.S. Army field manual, published in 2001, lays out the concept in a whole chapter, just to make sure that everyone gets it: "The main effort is the activity, unit or area that commanders determine constitutes the most important task at that time."
The idea of "the main effort" applies to geopolitics, too.
In the '40s, the Soviet Union was an evil empire, but it was less evil - and certainly less of a threat to the United States - than Nazi Germany. And so in the European theater we concentrated our main effort on defeating Hitler. And it worked.
Indeed, we tend to win our wars when we can surround and isolate our foe - as with Grenada in the '80s, or Serbia in the '90s. By contrast, we are much less successful when the enemy can be easily resupplied and reinforced by its allies, as was the case in Korea in the '50s, and Vietnam in the '60s and '70s.
And so back to Iran. If we are to prevail, we will need to isolate the country, cutting it off from potential aiders and abettors - most obviously Russia and China, the two countries that provided help to North Korea and North Vietnam.
So how're we doing? Let's start with Russia. Just last week, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was in Moscow, preaching democracy in the middle of that autocracy, telling dissidents, "I think that there is too much concentration of power in the Kremlin." She's right, of course. But Russian strongman Vladimir Putin is not our principal enemy - he's not the main effort.
And for his part, Putin has tricks up his sleeve. So he went to Tehran on Tuesday, hobnobbing with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, warning the United States not to attack. And if the United States does attack anyway, who will the Russians help?
Now to China. The Chinese are already buying Iranian oil. Surely, Beijing is nervous about possible American military action against Iran; the Chinese don't want to see the United States gaining still more control over Middle Eastern oil supplies.
So what does the United States do? Does it reassure China that we're its friend? That we're no threat to China, come what may with Iran? No, we do just the opposite. On Tuesday, President George W. Bush welcomed the Dalai Lama - regarded by the Chinese government as a renegade and a traitor - to the White House, and yesterday, Congress awarded him a special gold medal. The official Chinese reaction was "fury."
Now we can say that the Dalai Lama is a jolly good fellow, but whose help do we want against Iran - his? Or China's?
As a smaller example, the House is working on a resolution condemning Turkey's genocide against the Armenians. Did the Turks do it, 90 years ago? Sure. But today, do we want Turkey's help against Iran, or not?
It's possible to argue that current American policy toward Russia, China and Turkey is perfectly correct.
In which case, Iran is not really our main effort, after all. And the United States is therefore unlikely to succeed in thwarting Tehran's manifold ambitions.