f Putin sees that the West is a paper tiger and allows Georgia to be trampled, then he likely will not hesitate to block additional Western efforts to strip Iran of its nuclear ambitions. An atomic Iran, Putin realizes, would further expose the powerlessness of the West, as well as heighten its sense of vulnerability. Consequently, he may be tempted to defy the West yet again, on an issue even closer to its heart, in an effort to push the envelope.
Memo to Michael Freund: Georgia attacked South Ossetia, counting on the insane possibility that Russia would not respond, and somehow magically believing that the West would support Georgia militarily.
That was a catastrophic failure of both imagination and judgment on the part of the Georgian government.
Russia has, though an adept series of deals and treaties, become one of the largest producers of oil and natural gas in the world.
In the attack against and subsequent occupation of Iraq, the US has attempted to steal its oil, only to ultimately realize that Iraq is making its own deals with countries like China.
Oil and gas that Europe desperately needs. The strength and depth of any European reprisals will be predicated on that need.
And just a little hard science, Michael: Iran is enriching uranium at 3%, which is consistent with creating a power plant.
If they were creating weapons, they would have to be enriching uranium at 90%, and there is no evidence seen by the IAEA that they are doing this.
And as to Iran, if Israel is so inclined, please, by all means, start your war.
But this time, you'll be on your own.
The US is still desperately trying to clean up the messes in Iraq, Afghanistan (and Georgia) to which Israel was the "grand enabler".
And do remember; Russia has stated than any attack against Iran will be perceived as an attack against Russia.
So if what Israel really wants is a war with Russia, solo, please just go ahead!