Friday, June 08, 2007

Putin's Sense of Humor

I am following up on Cernig's post on the thesis that Putin is completely dominating Bush on the missile defense radar and interceptor base placement issue despite working with a relatively weaker hand. As we know from yesterday, Vladimar Putin suggested that the US build a tracking radar base in Azerbaijan and share all of the technology with Russia. Belgravia Dispatch notes that this offer is a farce and a delaying move, and I agree with this analysis.

However, today, we are shown the complete range of President Putin's sense of humor as he proposed a couple of alternative locations besides Azerbaijan:

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday that U.S. missile defense interceptors could be located in Turkey, or even Iraq

The Iraqi idea is a non-starter for two obvious reasons. The first is why would a Shi'ite dominated government with significant ties to Iran allow the United States to build and maintain a major anti-Iranian installation, or even if we move forward in the probablity sphere towards a nationalistic non-SIIC/DAWA dominated government, why would they want the US to build a 50 year installation and increase tensions with their largest neighbor. Secondly, and far more pragmatically, this base unless it is built in the furthest reaches of the Anbar desert near the Jordanian/Saudi border would be under weekly mortar and rocket attack on general principle of it being an American installation. If it is built further out into the desert, the supply lines will be under more pressure AND the mortar/rocket attacks will still occur, just a little less frequently.

Six or seven years ago I could have bought an easy argument that Turkey would support the US as the missile defense site should be a fairly large cash infusion into the local economy and the increased in tensions with Iran would be massively outweighed by the stronger and closer ties with the US. Not any more.

The Turks are righly pissed at the United States since 2003 as the Turkish democratic process was not producing results that the United States wanted, we blustered, we threatened, and some neo-con advisors hinted about a military coup. After the invasion, the United States has done very little to address Turkey's largest internal security concern and that is the creation and operation of safe havens for the PKK Kurdish seperatist guerrillas in northern Iraq.

These steps, among others, have prompted the Turkish government and military to conclude a working, and implicit anti-Kurdish alliance with Iran. And that alliance or at least cooperative co-belligence has been effective in addressing Turkey's concern. So why should they double back and make themselves worse off when the current configuration of relationships is working rather decently for Turkey.

President Putin sure is a funny man, and the joke has been on us for a while now.

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