Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Would a nuclear-armed Georgia change the equation on Iran?

As the Communist-backed mullahcracy of Iran moves closer to becoming a nuclear-armed state (it could be at most four years away - seventh item), Washington is wringing its hands about what to do. Depending on whom one reads, the United States is either preparing a military strike or paving the way for surrender - ahem, negotiation. Sadly, no one is talking about the one real solution: liberation. The focus is almost entirely on non-proliferation; a more effective method of promoting counter-proliferation has not been discussed, largely because the punditry is thinking about other Middle Eastern nations - none of which are exemplary characters worthy of nuclear weapons. However, just north of Iran is a pro-American democracy that could not only give Iran pause, but also give Russia second thoughts about helping the mullahs become a nuclear power: Georgia.

The longer it takes for the free world to recognize liberation as the only true answer for Iran, the more likely there won't be enough time to do it peacefully (e.g., Poland 1989) before the mullahs have the nuclear weapons they want. This would give them the deterrence they need to step up their efforts to become the lead power in the Middle East, and the ultimate weapon of last resort against the Iranian people (any repeat of mass concentrated protests of 1999 could be dealt with the swiftness and terror of a mushroom cloud).

Iran's biggest nuclear facilitators - by far - are Russia and Communist China. Given Communist China's history with anti-American terrorists, only a robust anti-Communist policy in Washington will squeeze Beijing enough to make it consider dropping Iran (as the Soviets did with Eastern Europe after the U.S. squeezed them in the 1980s). Russia is a somewhat different story. While its military-industrial complex is dependent on Communist Chinese arms purchases, its Far Eastern provinces are in danger of being subsumed by the Communists. Vis a vis Iran, Moscow is looking at purely economic and geopolitical self-interest with no concern for America and its allies one way or the other.

Could something be done to convince Russia to drop Iran as a nuclear customer? Perhaps, and if so, it could extend the timetable long enough for the free world to get serious about Iran's peaceful liberation. The question is - how? No American leader has been closer to a Russian chief than George W. Bush has been to Vladimir Putin, but the flow of nuclear parts has gone on unabated. Russia needs some added incentive to get out of the Iranian nuclear business. The threat of counter-proliferation could have an effect, and this is where Georgia comes in.

Georgia has been independent since 1991, but it didn't really break free of Russia's influence until the "Rose Revolution" of 2003, led by Mikhail Saakashvilli. Russia has been trying to curtail Georgian independence ever since, while the U.S. has grown very close to Georgia. Meanwhile, Georgia's capital of Tblisi is closer to Tehran than Riyadh, Ankara, or Amman.

In short, if the democracy of Georgia were to become a nuclear power, it could scare both the Iranian mullahs and their Russian benefactors.

The counter-proliferation plan would be in two parts. The first would be a public agreement with Georgia to build nuclear energy reactors (something similar to the U.S.-India nuclear deal). Such an agreement all by itself would raise eyebrows in Moscow and Tehran. They would, of course, demand assurance that this would not lead to a nuclear-armed Georgia, to which we would simply respond: You can rest assured that Georgia's nuclear program is as peaceful as you claim Tehran's is. Publicly, given the continued hollow pledges from Tehran on its nuclear ambitions, this would be enough to calm them. Privately, the message would be perfectly clear: if Iran becomes a nuclear-armed state on Tuesday, Georgia becomes a nuclear-armed state on Wednesday. Something tells me Putin would decide a nuclear Iran threatening Israel and America's allies is not worth a nuclear Georgia on his doorstep.

This is certainly a controversial proposal; there are some people or whom nuclear weapons are never acceptable. However, as history has clearly shown: nukes don't kill people, terrorists kill people.

More to the point, even I do not consider the nuclear Georgia plan to be a permanent solution to the Iran problem. That will only come when Khomeinism falls. As I stated above, the longer we wait, the more likely liberation will require military action. The Georgia option will give the free world more time, but nothing more; we will need to use that time to help the Iranian people take their country back.

1 comment:

Random Handle said...

I don't believe in the stability of Georgia (where Stalin is currently regarded as a national hero) enough to trust them with nukes. If the Ukraine cannot resist Russia's influence, what makes you think Georgia can?