12/22/14

Regardless of the subject, Senator Cato (or Cato the Elder) of Roman Empire fame ended every speech he gave in the senate at Roma with “Delenda Carthago!” — “Carthage must be destroyed!” In the end, the Roman Empire did destroy Carthage, although I am not sure the Senator lived to see it.

Like Cato, I also have a bee-in-my-bonnet: Iran. I have been obsessed with the Iran nuclear weapons issue for over 10 years now and I believe that it is still the most preeminent threat of our times.

Not surprisingly, I am wondering what the fall in oil prices does to this issue.

I have written so many posts on the Iranian nuclear issue that I am not going to repeat anything here. I have investigated it, read up on it, and thought about it enough to feel that I understand the issue very well. However, there was always one element that I could not master in this conundrum: What is Russia’s game?

On the one hand, Russia has a close relationship with Iran. Russia built Iran a nuclear power reactor and just signed an agreement to possibly build more. It supplies Iran with weapons and the two countries have a close trading relationship in many respects. That is all understandable for Russia, who wants to make life difficult for the West (and the US in particular), needs the foreign trade wherever it can get it, is in alliance with Iran on the matter of Syria and ultimately views Iran as its best bet for a “warm-water” port.

On the other hand, Russia seems to be reasonably supportive of the P5+1 effort to contain the nuclear weapons ambitions of Iran. Not anywhere near as much of a troublemaker as it could be otherwise. That again makes sense when considering that Russia does not want a nuclear, fundamentalist Islamic country on its doorstep fomenting extremism and problems for Russia and its own Muslim extremists.

So, that leaves one question: Why did Russia never make good on its contractual obligation to supply Iran with its most advanced and sophisticated surface to air missile system in order to protect Iran from an air attack by the USA or, mostly, by Israel?

In a way, it seems as though Russia is wishing that someone will attack the Iranian nuclear facilities, giving Russia a double win; no nuclear nation on its doorstep AND the opportunity to become Iran’s white knight after the attack and thus gain more influence there.

Now, we are getting to my conspiracy theory.

I am not normally a conspiracy theorist. Indeed, given how open the society is, I do not believe that any such conspiracies can even exist in the West. But Russia is another matter.

It has been well publicized that the reduction in oil price is damaging the Russian economy tremendously. This must be a big concern for Putin. His iron fist rule of Russia depends on a strong economy to keep the millions happy. Nothing fosters rebellious thoughts more than hunger.

So, how can Putin get a masterstroke here?

How about encouraging and pushing Israel to attack Iran — knowing that it should not take much of an effort to convince Israel to do it — perhaps by threatening to make good on the long frozen contract to supply the S-300s?

The immediate results of such an attack would cause a huge spike in oil prices, HUGE. The spike could also extend longer than expected if Iran happens to damage oil facilities of other nations in retaliation to such an attack and, of course, its own facilities will be damaged then, as well.

Then Putin can gloat all the way on the bubble of inflated oil prices again.

Is that not a Putin-esque solution to the problem facing him? It simply delivers so many benefits both in oil prices and Iran influence that he would be remiss not to look for a way to make this happen.

The only question left is: How will he do it?