When it comes to survival, nations act in their own interest. All talk about friendship and personal warmth between national leaders is pure fairy dust. That’s for the goo-goos, while political leaders need to deal with reality.
That is why Russia, the United States, Israel, the Arab nations, and even Iran can become part of a new long-term truce, like the Egypt-Israel peace treaty between former enemies, for which Jimmy Carter took the credit.
The key to a new long-term truce is national security and oil.
Putin is facing two threats. One is the mullahs, a self-proclaimed Muslim suicide cult that is very close to obtaining nuclear bombs. Only the mullahs themselves know if they are willing to risk martyrdom in order to genocide Israel and possibly the oil-owning Arabs who are only 50 miles away from Iran. They talk that way every single day, by chanting Death to Israel! Death to America! Under their founder Khomeini they carried on a war with Saddam Hussein that killed one million people.
Muslims have waged war against Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church for a thousand years. Putin is acutely aware of these facts, even if he is talking nice about the mullahs in public. Imagine having a nuclear Jim Jones cult a hundred miles from our borders and you can see how it looks from Moscow.
That is his national security problem. At the beginning of Putin’s rule, Moscow and Beslan were attacked with horrific mass atrocities. The killers were Muslim suiciders. Putin struck back the way Russia always has, with massed assaults and artillery bombardments in Chechnya, taking no prisoners and not caring for civilian casualties. Putin is not a nice Western humane warrior.
Iran’s suicide cult is therefore Russia’s most dangerous national security problem.
This is important, because it means that Putin is facing exactly the same problem as the rest of the Middle East neighborhood.
Putin has been talking to Israel as well as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria and the rest.
Russia’s second big problem is the likely crash of energy prices when shale production expands around the world. The energy stranglehold of the Gulf oil nations, including Iran and Arabia, is going to decline steeply in the next five years. In ten years it will be gone, and the Gulf will be one of many sources of oil and gas for the growing industrialized world, including China and India. OPEC will not be able to control energy prices any more.
That would be a major problem from Russia, which is a major energy exporter to Europe. Germany pays four times the world price for natural gas to Russia, to keep the Russian bear from starting the eternal cycle of European wars again. The EU is buying peace with Russia, at a price. All the green nonsense about global warming has a very great benefit to the oil producers and to European socialist elites: it gives them control over the price of energy in Europe. That allows Angela Merkel to fly to Moscow and talk to Putin about buying peace with Russia.
Putin’s problems therefore come down to two: He has to chain the pitbull next door before it gets nuclear weapons, and he has to somehow keep the cost of energy from crashing. Russia can adapt to a gradual decline of energy prices, because it can produce domestic shale energy. It cannot afford a rapid crash in oil and gas prices.
Those are the two biggest, unavoidable national interests the Russians have. It has nothing to do with the fact that Putin doesn’t like Obama, and vice versa.
Syria is not the biggest problem in the Middle East today. It is a proxy war between Iran and its allies, Assad Hizb’allah and the Sunni Arab nations, the Saudis, Egypt, and Turkey, backed by the United States. We have been supplying the Al Qaida rebels in Syria to fight Assad, along with the Saudis and Turks. That is the truth Obama keeps lying about to the world.
The enormously important question today is whether the United States and Russia can act as co-guarantors of a new Middle East standoff, a détente.
It is in the national interest of all parties, simply for their safety and prosperity.
Why would the Iranian mullahs go along with such an arrangement?
Because they are afraid of the Russian Bear next door, which has far more nuclear weapons than they can ever dream of. Putin is not an unreliable Democrat like Obama. He has killed thousands of Muslims in Chechnya. In the long term Putin does not want the Global Jihad to invade his borders.
Putin has also made a point of assassinating both foreign and domestic opponents, efforts that feature the equivalent of the Godfather’s horse’s head in the bedroom. The KGB was directly involved in the assassination attempt against John Paul II, when they saw him (correctly) as a threat to the Soviet Empire. In the end, John Paul, Ronald Reagan, and Margaret Thatcher helped to bring about the crumbling of the Soviet Union, in addition to the Polish resistance and a widespread understanding in the USSR that centralized control of the economy was never going to work.
In 2006, Putin poisoned the Russian exile and rebel Alexander Litvinenko in London, using easily traceable Polonium 210. That was done deliberately, to notify the West and the Chechens that the Tsar was back in Moscow. Litvinenko had written two books in favor of the Chechen Muslim rebellion against Moscow. The use of traceable Po 210 was his way of putting the Godfather’s horse’s head in the bedroom.
Putin is perfectly capable of assassinating any Iranian mullah who poses a danger to Russia. The mullahs know that. If Ayatollah Khamenei dies tomorrow from an unexpected heart attack, they know Putin could have done it.
There is only one power today that can instill fear in the mullahs’ hearts, and that is Russia. After the Soviet proxy defeats of 1973 in the Middle East, the United States became the protector of the oil supply from the Gulf. But the rising Iranian regime (put into power by Jimmy Carter in 1979) has never feared or respected the United States, except during the Reagan and Bush years.
A possible détente is therefore shaping up in the Middle East.
The key is chaining up the pitbull of Iran, and only Putin can do it today.
The second forcing factor in the availability and price of oil. Both Bandar and Alwaleed Al Talal, the biggest Saudi public honchos, have gone public with warnings that Saudi Arabia is facing a crisis with the rise of shale energy around the world. The Gulf will soon lose its control of the bottleneck, and everything will be up for grabs.
All that is real, dollars and cents and survival.
But the biggest public-relations game is Israel versus the Palestinians, who are Sunni Arabs who have adopted a phony national identity to try to destroy Israel. They consider themselves Arabs, not Palestinians, because “Palestine” is a hated colonial name used by the British, and long before, by the Romans who conquered the land of Israel of the time. Westerners gobble up propaganda with their morning coffee, but Arabs remember history.
The Israel-Palestinian confrontation can be settled — for some time — as part of the Middle East détente between Russia and the United States. Devout Muslims are absolutists who are sworn to conquer all the infidels in the world. But as a practical historical fact, Muslim fanaticism comes and goes. Today it is at a height, which is why the Global Jihad is so dangerous today. When shale energy becomes cheap and widespread around the world, oil-fueled Islamic fanaticism will fade. It has happened before.
Bottom line: In spite of all the chaos triggered by Democratic presidents Jimmy Carter and BH Obama, an acceptable outcome is emerging for a stable standoff. Russia has survival and economic interests in holding down the Middle East to a dull roar. So does the United States.
Next time this column will cover the second dimension of the Global Jihad, the mass infiltration of radicalized Muslims into Europe and the United States, aided by the radical left. The first order of business is that smoking barrel of gunpowder in the Middle East. In that part of the world, a détente between Russia and America may be the key to a stable truce for the next few decades.
In ten years shale energy development around the world will have changed the Middle East forever.