The Absence of Strategic Thinking

When media and political “talking heads” contended there was no “connection” between the recent spate of foiled terrorist plots on American soil, we were witnessing an absence of strategic thinking.

They simply weren’t analyzing the ideological force of jihadist Islam that IS the connection between the terrorist plots.

When media and political “talking heads,” in concert with the Obama administration, assert that Russia can be persuaded to support significantly tougher sanctions against Iran, we are again witnessing an absence of strategic thinking.

In both cases, it is the failure to see events and understand motivations through a lens other than our own.

The Iranian “mullocracy” is motivated by a messianic ambition to usher in the 12th imam through creating global chaos and by a desire to assert itself as the focal point of worldwide Islam. How does the “infidel” West hope to negotiate with that?

Ralph Peters makes a good case below for why Vladimir Putin does not see imposing tougher sanctions as in Russia’s self-interest, self-interest defined as Russia’s drive to exert greater control of oil and natural gas. In other words, a drive for greater power.

Putin could care less about Iran’s theo-political motivations, and deep down Iran despises “infidel” Russia. But, as the saying goes, “politics makes for strange bedfellows.”

    Updated: Thu., Oct. 1, 2009, 3:34 AM

Putin’s Iran plan

By RALPH PETERS

Iran’s traditional emblem has been the Persian lion. Russia’s should be a vulture: Prime Minister Vladimir Putin intends to feed on the carcass left by any confrontation with Iran.

For Moscow, this crisis isn’t about Tehran’s acquisition of nukes. It’s about Russia’s acquisition of a stranglehold on global energy markets.

Putin’s playing with fire — but he’s sure we’ll be the ones burned.

As for the Obama administration’s desperate (and stunningly naive) hope that economic sanctions can deter President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad and his fellow thugs-for-Allah from pursuing nuclear weapons, forget it.

Even were Putin to permit his front-man, President Dmitri Medvedev, to agree to half-baked sanctions, Moscow would violate them before Obama could step out of Air Force One with a piece of paper in his hand guaranteeing peace in our time.

The current crisis is a win-win-win for Putin. But before laying out his plan, let’s run the numbers:

The Persian Gulf’s littoral states hold over 60 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves and 40 percent of the natural gas. Russia has “just” 10 percent of the oil reserves and 35 percent of the world’s natural gas.

Do the math: Iran and its neighbors, along with Russia, own two-thirds of the world’s oil reserves and 70 percent of the natural gas. And the global economy still runs on oil and gas, folks.

Despite the State Department’s compartmentalization mentality, Russia and Iran don’t exist in separate worlds. It’s less than a day’s drive from Russia’s southern border through Azerbaijan to Iran’s northwestern border. I’ve driven it.

This is one macro-region for energy, the zone of ultimate control. Putin gets it, even if we don’t. Here’s Czar Vladimir’s strategic trifecta:

* For now, Russia profits wonderfully from its trade, both legal and illicit, with Iran, while the West talks itself to death. Life is good.

* But life could get even better: If Iran’s nuclear quest isn’t blocked, a nuclear arsenal will give Iran de facto control of all Persian Gulf oil. Putin envisions a Moscow-Tehran axis, an energy cartel that dramatically increases the value of his oil and gas — the only economic props keeping the corpse of Russia upright.

* If Israel’s driven to a forlorn-hope attack on Iran’s nuke program, Iran will respond by striking Gulf Arab oil fields and facilities, while closing the Strait of Hormuz. The US military will be in it, like it or not. Oil and gas prices will soar unimaginably — and the bear will have its paws on the golden tap.

So the worst outcome for Putin — more of the same — is still good. A bad outcome for everybody else is even better in Putin’s strategy to renew Russia’s superpower status.

Why on earth would this guy help us stop Iran? When he hates us, anyway? (It isn’t you, Barack. It’s just business.)

For all his viciousness, Putin’s a serious strategist. We don’t have any high-level strategists. Not one. On either side of the Potomac.

In his first decade on the throne, Czar Vladimir focused on addicting Europe to Russian gas, while moving successfully to exert control over as many pipelines as possible. That was the constructive decade.

The second decade in the reign of Vladimir I is the energy-cartel-building phase. This will be the confrontational phase.

Energy’s the only real power Putin has, so he’s maximizing it.

It’s no accident that a strategic triangle has emerged between Moscow, Tehran and Caracas — home of the great Latin mischief-lover, Hugo Chavez, who thrives on his own nation’s petro-wealth.

For us, the Iran crisis is about peace. For Putin, it’s about power. Yet the self-deluding Obama administration really believes that Moscow’s going to support us. After our president gave away our only serious bargaining chip, the missile-defense system promised to our European allies.

Putin thinks in 10-year-plans. We can’t think past the next congressional roll-call vote.

The Obama administration’s primary legacy to the world is going to be a nuclear-armed Iran.

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