To the Obama administration the key to dealing with Iran evidently lies in Moscow. Get the Russians on board, the thinking goes, and then there will be a united front, and hey presto, diplomacy will somehow convince the Iranians that their nuclear ambitions will have to be suspended, or perhaps emended, or perhaps redirected, or perhaps something else which we will be excited, or perhaps dismayed, or perhaps terrified, to discover in due course.
To that end, Mrs. Hillary Clinton has just been to Moscow, in the role of humble petitioner. She might have expected a welcome and even a hearing, granted that President Obama has scrapped the projected missile shield in central Europe that Moscow liked to pretend was a threat. Not a bit of it: This gratuitous gift cut no ice with Vladimir Putin, who in any case doesn’t take kindly to humble petitioners, much preferring to kick them. Putin came out in favor of leaving Iran to carry on with everything it is doing. Talk of sanctions, he said, was “premature.” At a subsequent meeting with the Chinese, he summarized his policy of choice towards Iran, “We need to look for a compromise. If a compromise is not found, and the discussions end in fiasco, then we will see.” That should have them sitting up and begging for mercy in Tehran. The discussions are already a six-year fiasco. As for Putin, he doesn’t hesitate to send the tanks into Chechnya or Georgia, to threaten all his neighbours and cut off gas supplies at will, and even wage cyber-war against Estonia. Who does he think he’s deceiving?
I happened to catch Mrs. Clinton being interviewed about her trip to Moscow on BBC television. Her body language indicated that she knew Putin had delivered the good kicking reserved for weak petitioners there. But as best she could, she let it be understood that the Russians are really on board, never mind what they say or do, never mind the lengths they go to in order to thwart the United States even if that means sabotaging any hope of world order. Who does she think she’s deceiving?