Helene Cooper of the New York Times writes today on aspects of the Iran situation I've been tracking at Pen and Sword.
It was always going to be tough for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to hold together her fragile coalition of world powers trying to rein in Iran’s nuclear ambitions. The Israel-Hezbollah war in Lebanon has made that job harder.
Now that Iran has apparently refused to discontinue its uranium enrichment program, Rice's big challenge will come when a resolution on sanctions comes to a vote in the UN Security Council.
While only the permanent members can veto, the rising fear, particularly among European diplomats, is that smaller countries on the Council are so angry over how the United States, and now France, have handled the Lebanon crisis that they will give Russia and China political cover to balk against imposing tough sanctions.
And as Cooper reminds us, China and Russia have energy investments in Iran, and are unlikely agree to anything that limits their ability to buy Iranian oil or hinders foreign investment in Iran's petroleum industry.
But China and Russia have an even better reason to balk at imposing sanctions. They've arrived at a golden window of opportunity to stick it the good old U.S. of A. Thanks to its misadventures in Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon, America's stature in the world has suffered an enormous blow, and a lot of folks besides China and Russia--especially folks in the Muslim world--would like nothing better than to see the American Cyclops take a sharp stick in the eye.
Moreover, by backing Iran in any sanctions vote, China and Russia will make heroes of themselves on the Islamic street, and the world on that street will become, "Hey, maybe China and Russia and Iran together can shoulder the American bastards out of Southwest Asia."
Believe you me, I take no joy whatsoever in seeing the U.S. take a drubbing like this, but we absolutely, positively must wake up to the fact that the neoconservatives running our foreign policy have completely blown it, and with every step they take, they pull our country deeper into the quicksand.
Another story from today's Times illustrates just how hapless our diplomacy has become.
When Mercy Corps and other Western aid agencies reached this devastated village on the front line of the battle between Israel and Hezbollah with food and medicine, they quickly discovered they had a big problem: the United States.
Mercy Corps and the other agencies that receive financing from the U.S. are barred from giving out money or aid through Hezbollah, but it's next to impossible to give out money or aid without going through Hezbollah.
Iran, of course, has no problem whatsoever with distributing money through Hezbollah, so guess whose money is getting to the needy in southern Lebanon. How likely, then, are Russia and China to back sanctions against the country that's providing the bulk of the aid to southern Lebanon?
Not very likely at all.
Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at ePluribus Media and Pen and Sword.