New Russian missiles may seal off Iran nuke plants

Expert sources claim that the new Tor-M1 antimissile systems Vladimir Putin is selling to Iran are the most advanced in the world. The Russian system may be able to protect Tehran's nuclear sites from any US or Israeli attack, thereby ensuring Ahmadinejad's march to nuclear arms. A nuclear exchange between Iran and Israel is therefore made more probable, although nobody can be sure how likely it really is. However, Iranian nukes are inevitably going to lead to further proliferation, putting the entire world at greater risk.

The flagrant public
poisoning of Putin's critic Litvinenko in London is now widely interpreted as a renewal of Cold War tactics by the Russians.  According to the Telegraph of London, presumably speaking for the British government,

Until now, the West has tended to overlook Mr Putin's authoritarianism, largely for the sake of a quiet life. But there must come a point when our patience runs out. It is one thing to tyrannise your people; quite another to presume to do so on British territory.
Russian support of Iranian imperialism is a fallback to its old Cold War policies. Chances are good that the Iranians have been helping Putin put down the Chechen Islamist rebels fighting against Moscow, and the new antimissile systems are Putin's quid pro quo. Russia is again threatening Eastern Europe as well.

A historical reminder may help. In many ways the current situation is a repetition of 1980, when advanced Soviet SAM antiaircraft missiles were seeded in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley in order to shoot down Israeli jets. In the upshot, the SAMs failed spectacularly, and Israel maintained air superiority until today. The air battle of Bekaa Valley in 1981 was a punch in the nose for the Soviet Union and its client state Syria, and helped swing Egypt toward an American alliance. That same year, Israel also knocked out Saddam Hussein's Osirak nuclear reactor, setting back his nuclear weapons program permanently.

History may or may not repeat itself --- but a similar correlation of forces is now rising on both sides. Europe may no longer hate America as much, now that Russia is becoming aggressive -- because now they need the United States. Otherwise there is nothing to keep Russian tanks from crushing its Eastern European neighbors. Even with 450 million people in the EU, Europe still cannot defend itself. It has neither the will to do so, the doctrine, organization, nor even the arms budget. The US is once again the indispensible ally against Russia.

However, the crux of the whole evolving mess is now Iraq: If the United States retreats now, Iran will take over the Shiite provinces and their oil. The Russian-Iranian axis will then be close to dominating  all the oil supplies in the Middle East and Russia, bringing OPEC closer to a centrally controlled monopoly. Sunni nations like Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states and Egypt will need American support more than ever. But if the US retreats from Iraq, the Sunnis may throw in their lot with the rising Russian-Iranian front.

Power-hungry types like Putin and Ahmadinejad make their moves based on the perceived correlation of forces. Today they are betting on an American retreat.
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