Russian President Vladimir Putin might be a freedom-hater who longs for the return of the Soviet Union, but he made an excellent point in a speech earlier today. From CNN:
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday blamed U.S. policy for inciting other countries to seek nuclear weapons to defend themselves from an "almost uncontained use of military force."
"Unilateral, illegitimate actions have not solved a single problem, they have become a hotbed of further conflicts," Putin said at the Munich Conference on Security Policy, an annual forum attracting senior officials from around the world.
The Bush administration said it was "surprised and disappointed" by Putin's remarks.
Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, who was also attending the conference, described Putin's remarks as "the most aggressive speech from a Russian leader since the end of the Cold War."
I'm sorry Senator McCain, but the truth hurts. Even though he's critical of US policy, Putin's comments are entirely valid, especially in relation to Iran.
Let's use an analogy to better understand Iran's situation. Say you're chilling in your house when the rich guy in the mansion down the street who you've never gotten along with starts calling you a member of the "Club of Evil" because you don't adhere to their neighborhood covenant. That alone might not be a big deal, but you consider buying a couple of guns you've always had you eyes on to protect yourself whenever your financial situation allows it. However, the rich guy down the street then sends in his personal security detail to take over your next door neighbor (who was also labeled a member of the "Club of Evil") and forces him to adhere to the neighborhood covenant regardless of the fact that most of the neighborhood is against the action in the first place. Would that not make the purchase of a few guns your primary priority? Would you not put all other needs aside when your way of life is threatened? Sure, the rich man will warn you not to buy the guns, but he already announced a public hit list with you on it. Why should you listen to him when you can buy a proven deterrent?
In much the same way, Iran knows it is in the Bush administation's crosshairs. They were included in the "Axis of Evil" in 2002. They watched the US ignore world opinion and invade another nation in this "Axis". Sure, Iran probably wanted to develop nuclear weapons long before 2002, but now the Bush administration has shown the willingness to use military force when most of the world opposes it. What's the only thing that can deter the US from doing the same thing to Iran? Nuclear weapons. They worked in the Cold War. They made warfare between the US and the Soviet Union unthinkable and prevented World War III. In the mind of most Iranians, the US poses a clear and present danger, making the development of nuclear weapons extremely attractive because diplomacy and world opinion obviously did nothing to deter the US from invading Iraq.
Now I certainly don't agree with Iran's policies or form of government. Afterall, they are a theocracy. However, Iranians are human, and they will react like threatened humans, so we shouldn't be surprised by their actions. President Putin is simply telling the truth that needs to be told. The US has scared Iran into developing nuclear weapons because Iran sees no other effective methods of protecting itself.
The best thing we can do now is admit our error, stop pretending like we're blameless, and actually talk to Iran. The truth might hurt, but it's better than living in a delusion that will only make matters worse. Furthermore, rejecting criticism outright is simply a refusal to adapt and improve. It's dogma and doesn't belong in sound foreign policy. Of course, why should I expect anything but dogma from a born-again Christian in the White House? Alas, these are the times we face.