Would the American foreign policy establishment be willing to jettison its geopolitically counterproductive and morally illicit hegemonism with respect to Russia, a hegemonism that not only ties our hands with respect to legitimate threats from disparate Islamic sources, but devalues the legitimate and instinctive patriotic sentiments of other peoples, Russians particularly, but not exclusively, in order to mitigate the Iranian threat? Hear Stratfor:
Via the U.N. Security Council, Russian cooperation can ensure Iran's diplomatic isolation. Russia's past cooperation on Iran's Bushehr nuclear power facility holds the possibility of a Kremlin condemnation of Iran's nuclear ambitions. A denial of Russian weapons transfers to Iran would hugely empower ongoing U.S. efforts to militarily curtail Iranian ambitions. Put simply, Russia has the ability to throw Iran under the American bus -- but it will not do it for free. In exchange, it wants those treaties amended in its favor, and it wants American deference on security questions in the former Soviet Union.
Russia could be encouraged to throw Iran under the American bus. But there is a price, and that price would entail the abandonment of hegemonism.
A series of three treaties ended the Cold War and created a status of legal parity between the United States and Russia. The first, the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE), restricts how much conventional defense equipment each state in NATO and the former Warsaw Pact, and their successors, can deploy. The second, the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I), places a ceiling on the number of intercontinental ballistic missiles that the United States and Russia can possess. The third, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), eliminates entirely land-based short-, medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles with ranges of 300 to 3,400 miles, as well as all ground-launched cruise missiles from NATO and Russian arsenals.
The constellation of forces these treaties allow do not provide what Russia now perceives its security needs to be. The CFE was all fine and dandy in the world in which it was first negotiated, but since then every Warsaw Pact state -- once on the Russian side of the balance sheet -- has joined NATO. The "parity" that was hardwired into the European system in 1990 is now lopsided against the Russians.
START I is by far the Russians' favorite treaty, since it clearly treats the Americans and Russians as bona fide equals. But in the Russian mind, it has a fateful flaw: It expires in 2009, and there is about zero support in the United States for renewing it. The thinking in Washington is that treaties were a conflict management tool of the 20th century, and as American power -- constrained by Iraq as it is -- continues to expand globally, there is no reason to enter into a treaty that limits American options. This philosophical change is reflected on both sides of the American political aisle: Neither the Bush nor Clinton administrations have negotiated a new full disarmament treaty.
Finally, the INF is the worst of all worlds for Russia. Intermediate-range missiles are far cheaper than intercontinental ones. If it does come down to an arms race, Russia will be forced to turn to such systems if it is not to be left far behind an American buildup.
There then follows, in that same Stratfor analysis, the section I quoted previously, in my piece against hegemonism as a violation of patriotism. The bottom line is that this set of treaties, which function to codify an imbalance in American-Russian relations, enabling America to continue "projecting power" against Russian interests, have become an exemplification of America's general hegemonist policy, which Russia desires the end. Some might regard this as blackmail, purely and simply. That judgment, however, presupposes the legitimacy of American policy, which ought not be assumed as a given. If Russia is engaging in blackmail against the United States, it is scarcely to be differentiated, ethically, from American policy itself.
Where do the interests of the United State truly lie, then? In grinding Russia into dust, reducing her to political and economic vassalage as an expression of American hyper-puissance, or in constraining Iranian ambitions - that is, constraining the jihad (to the extent that this is separable from Persian nationalism generally) in one of its manifestations? The fact that the American establishment seems intent upon the impossibility of "both/and" tells one everything one needs to know concerning its descent into hubristic dementia.