[Sorry...one more post on this]
Yesterday was a bad day on the Iran front for President Obama. In spite of his magnanimous gesture of dismantling the ABM system scheduled to be deployed in Poland and the Czech Republic, Russia doesn't seem to be willing to cooperate with the US on the imposition of serious sanctions on Iran if Iran refuses or cannot demonstrate that its nuclear program is peaceful. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Larov stated that Russia believes the threat of sanctions is "counterproductive" and that, for now, continued negotiations are the only appropriate strategy. Even more problematic than the statement itself is the fact that it came in the midst of a visit to Russia by Secretary of State Clinton who, despite the prospect of better relations and Russian cooperation following the ABM decision, failed in her efforts to win promises of support for sanctions.
As I wrote a month ago, it was foolish of the US to scrap the ABM system without extracting any serious pledges from Russia about Iran. Iran's nuclear ambitions is one of the two or three most serious security issues faced not only by the US but by the international community and trading the ABM system for Russian cooperation should have been a no-brainer.
But this also demonstrates why it was so foolish of the Nobel committee to award the 2009 peace prize to President Obama. In an unprecedented defense of its decision, the committee said yesterday that it awarded the prize to Obama in part due to his decision to "scale down a Bush-era proposal for an anti-missile shield in Europe." But its far too early to say what the consequences of that decision will be. Perhaps the weakened commitment to the eastern European NATO countries will strengthen Russia and lead to more scenarios like the Russian invasion of Georgia? Perhaps Russia will continue to impede international and American efforts to sanction Iran and prevent it from proliferating? The move to replace an ABM system with an theater-based missile defense system in and of itself was not one that inherently increased or decreased the likelihood of peace. So far, the Obama administration seems to have missed a golden opportunity to use that decision to make progress in keeping Iran non-nuclear. What other results are yet to come?