The Azeri Option
It sounds like the name of a bad spy novel, but it is actually the interesting wrinkle in the ongoing tug-of-war between Washington and Moscow over the supposedly anti-Iranian missile defense shield. Putin has noticed the small flaw in the anti-Iranian element of the defense system: it doesn’t defend Russia or many of the countries in southeastern Europe against this dire Iranian threat. Why, it’s hardly fair to expose the longsuffering democrats of Kiev to all those mythical Iranian warheads, you can almost hear Vova saying now. Rather than using this glaring “flaw” in the plan as an argument against the shield, he proposed–in the almost certain knowledge that Washington will never accept it–putting the missile defense system in Azerbaijan instead. Putin has backed off the more menacing rhetoric and turned the entire situation to his advantage. That’s the problem with making up transparently absurd justifications for anti-Russian foreign policy moves: they are revealed for the deception that they are the moment the Russians pretend to take these justifications seriously.