With Israel openly discussing a possible attack on Iran, the thought of revisiting the cold war seems, for some, a frightening idea and, for others an unfinished fight that deserves a second look.
The recent (and controversial) Russian Presidential election that propelled Vladimir Putin back to the throne has highlighted some worrisome trends in Russia. Russia is still a country that attracts the attention of average U.S. citizens. In fact, in the 2008 Presidential election, Arizona Sen. and presidential candidate John McCain said that he saw “ the KGB” when he looked into the eyes of former and (newly) elected Russian president Vladimir Putin—as opposed to former President Bush, who said he had seen Putin’s soul. With two American political leaders from the same political party saying two vastly different things, it is quite obvious that suspicions remain.
But besides the most recent troubles in the Presidential election, one has to wonder what would happen if Russia became more aggressive on the world stage. What other countries or states would form a coalition with them? A coalition, which would also serve that country’s agenda without being taken hostage by Russia?
By looking at maps and a state’s total GDP, it is important to consider that this country should be strong, culturally different and also, far enough away, physically speaking, as to avoid any type of military advancement into there country from Russia.
One such country that fits this description is Iran. Although its total GDP is roughly half the size of Russia’s, they could not overwhelm Iran for several reasons.
Russia and Iran are separated by the Caspian Sea and also three smaller states, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. This would make any type of Military maneuver extremely difficult, and would keep the Russians from even considering such a move—at least in the short term.
In addition, Russia and Iran are culturally and historically very different. Iran is an Islam-centered theocracy. Although most Iranians have pro-western views, the possible impending conflict with Israel could drive moderate-thinking people to become more nationalistic.
The reason Iran would want to form a coalition with Russia, if in fact Russia became more aggressive, is because they would have similar interests. Russia has increasingly become more aggressive in the last several years with not only Georgia, but also other neighboring territories. It is clear that Russia would like to establish itself as a world power once again. Russia has the size and the military might—by virtue of a stockpile of nuclear weapons—and also money. Russia remains one of the ten richest countries in the world.
With energy an emerging problem throughout the world, Russia may see an opportunity to leverage its oil for more wealth, thus becoming a more powerful international actor on the world stage.
With Iran as a military ally, given its close proximity to Iraq and it’s own allies in Palestine and Lebanon, Russia, one could argue, could have enormous influence with not only the European Union but more specifically the U.S—which would be the incentive for Iran to form a coalition with Russia.
Iran has increasingly become a target of the U.S. Before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, President Bush in his state of the Union address called Iran, along with Iraq and North Korea the “ axis of evil.” The U.S. continues to believe Iran is trying to attain a nuclear weapon. Iran claims the reason it wants to acquire nuclear technologies is for energy purposes. If Iran were to form a coalition with Russia, the U.S. would not only have to contend with Iran possibly acquiring nuclear technology, they would also have to contend with Iran being a Russian ally.
The combination could potentially force a military confrontation similar to the cold war—only with a different state actor involved, Iran.
If this were to happen, it is quite possibly not only the beginning of another Cold War, but maybe the beginning of World War III. Hopefully, Russia and the U.S. can view each other as a competing partner as opposed to vicious enemies. The world depends on it.