Iran’s Nuclear Program And ISIS

By Sal Bommarito

The New York Times reports that a major breakthrough is possible in the negotiations with Iran regarding its nuclear energy program.

This development could be critical not only for the safety of the Middle East, but also for the ISIS crisis. If a deal can be struck that prevents Iran from using its uranium to build a weapon, the world will be safer. If this situation is rectified, it opens the possibility that Iran could become a productive member of the coalition fighting ISIS.

Now the bad news. The U.S. and Russia have not been as antagonistic towards each other since the Cold War ended. Russia is currently invading Ukraine, and the U.S. led a successful effort to implement economic sanctions in protest. The competition between the two super powers has reached an apex.

The U.S.’s status in the world has been greatly impacted by its ambivalent diplomacy. Frankly, most nations are skeptical about the U.S.’s integrity and willingness to keep promises made to its allies. This attitude is particularly prevalent in the Middle East where much of the trouble is brewing.

Perhaps Iran can live with a program in which its uranium is shipped to Russia and converted into fuel rods that can only be used for peaceful purposes. A plethora of other issues need to be settled before a deal is consummated, including the number of permitted centrifuges, the fate of a heavy-water reactor that produces plutonium and the inspection process.

Most important are the differing endgames of the U.S., Iran and Russia. Neither the U.S. nor Russia wants Iran to possess a nuclear weapon; Iran has not agreed to comply. Russia wants to assess Iran exorbitant fees to convert the uranium; the U.S. is not excited about any new programs that benefit the Russian economy. Russia would like to become more engaged in the Middle East; the U.S. certainly does not want yet another antagonist disrupting the region. The U.S. must be concerned with Israel reacting aggressively about the chances of Iran developing a nuclear weapon.

It is highly likely that negotiations relating to Iran’s role in fighting ISIS will spill over into the nuclear discussions. This is problematic because it may influence the U.S. to make a very bad long-term decision for a short-term benefit. Moreover, the Obama administration is so hungry for a diplomatic success that it might agree to something that will have disastrous consequences.

We should be enthusiastic about new negotiations that could decrease nuclear proliferation. However, it is too early to celebrate because the U.S. must deal with some very devious adversaries.

What The Hell Is Putin Up To In The Ukraine?

By Sal Bommarito

The percolating conflict between Ukraine and Russia is not ending anytime soon and is making many leaders around the world increasingly nervous. Russia has backed a separatist group in its former satellite. The concern is that the rebellion could lead to a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

 

When the incursion first began, the Russian objective appeared to be the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula located in the southern part of Ukraine. It provides unfettered access to the Black Sea, something that is strategically important to Russia.

 

The citizens of Crimea have close ties to Russia, and so the people in this area were mostly supportive of the rebellion and the possibility of, once again, becoming a part of Russia. The forays by rebels were only possible with Russian materiel. President Vladimir Putin created a subterfuge about the persecution of Crimean Russians to justify the actions of Russia.

 

Ukraine was one of 12 Soviet republics that became independent nations when the Soviet Union was dissolved in 1991. Many people believe that Putin continues to be embarrassed that Soviet Union dominance has waned since that time. He still reminisces about the days when assured mutual destruction afforded the Soviets equal status with the U.S. Some observers are concerned that the action in Crimea may be the beginning of a massive re-annexation of all the former Soviet states.

 

What is peculiar is that Putin’s ego and imperialistic motivations are creating a political storm that will likely be detrimental to Russia in a number of ways. From history, we know that arming allies threatened by other nations deters aggression. Generally, global outrage of aggression leads to greater tension and could ignite a new world war. So what the hell does Putin think he is going to achieve? What’s his endgame? He is alienating every civilized country in the world with his grandiose plans to reestablish the Soviet Union.

 

Putin is being demonized for his actions, even by nations that are dependent on Russia for critical trade. Yet, if he sends Russian troops into Ukraine, the global community will circle the wagons, and they will likely try to bankrupt Russia with economic sanctions. No other country, including the U.S., is going to start another shooting world war over the Ukraine incursion. The war against Russia will attack its cash flow.

 

Ronald Reagan effectively ended the Cold War by outspending the Soviet Union. In an instant, the Soviet Union ran out of money, agreed to end the nuclear arms race and enabled a dozen Soviet states to form new countries. The Russians will once again be crushed economically if Putin does not back off.

 

All of the blathering about the EU’s dependence on Russian energy will end if Russia insists on following in the footsteps of Nazi Germany. The international community of nations cannot have any of its members unilaterally annex other nations.

 

In the meantime, the U.S. is tossing marshmallows at Russia. The sanctions already imposed by President Obama are not strong enough to make a sustainable impact. Mr. President, stop dillydallying. Take an economic bite out of Russia, and the crisis will surely end soon after. Putin will have no choice other than to face discontent in his own country because military aggression is not good for business. If Putin wants to play global domination, he should play a game of “Risk.”

 

Severe Economic Sanctions Could Bankrupt Russia And End The Conflict In The Ukraine

The Russian invasion of the Ukraine has taken a turn for the worst. The ultimate nightmare of every free country in the world has occurred as a result of the conflict. Russian-backed rebels in the Ukraine allegedly shot down a commercial airplane with a land missile. For years, the threat of terrorists using surface to air missiles to attack non-military planes has been on the minds of every government security person in the world.

 

Putting weapons in the hands of radical, undisciplined mercenaries is a great risk. Russia has decided to arm rebels in Crimea to create havoc for the legitimate government of Ukraine, and in the end to annex land. This strategy has resulted in an egregious crime against humanity- the slaughter of nearly 300 innocents on a Malaysian plane.

 

As in a number of other dangerous situations, the U.S. response to Russian actions has been timid at best, and totally ineffective in tempering Russia’s aggression. This is not to suggest that the U.S. should take military action against Russia, or even to provide armaments to the Ukraine government. The latter may also lead to increased casualties of civilians. Rather, truly harsh economic sanctions against Russia should be implemented immediately.

 

The current opposition to a more substantive U.S. response is that our country only does a relatively minor amount of business with Russia, while the European Union does substantially more. However, the dependence of the EU on Russian energy has caused the Europeans to be very reluctant to pressure Russia.

 

It has been noted that the U.S. could put maximum pressure on Russia by forbidding U.S. banks to deal with Russian banks. Even without European assistance, this tactic would create a serious economic crisis in Russia. Perhaps these actions should have been implemented earlier.

If so, we might not be in such a precarious situation at this time.

 

During the Cold War, Ronald Reagan effectively bankrupted the Soviet Union. There is no reason why the U.S. cannot act in a similar manner to force Russia to end the current crisis.