As reflected in the hit musical “Fiddler on the Roof,” Russia has a long history of anti-Semitism; nevertheless, we may soon see a new geo-political alignment that features Russia and Israel versus Iran and radical Islam. While Russia and Israel might seem to be strange geo-political bedfellows, we should keep in mind the words of former British Prime Minister Lord Palmerston who famously said, “We have no permanent allies. We have no permanent enemies. We only have permanent interests.”
Israel has a permanent interest in not being wiped off the face of the earth by the radical Islamists in Iran, in being able to trade in free-world markets, and now even to use Russian ships to supply natural gas to regional consumers. Russia has permanent interests in being able to trade via sea in world markets and in being able to supply Russia’s abundant natural gas to European markets while fending off the radical Islamists in Chechnya.
But Russia’s ability to move its ships from the Black Sea into the Mediterranean Sea and on around the globe is threatened by the increasingly Islamist government in Turkey. Moreover, Russia really needs the warm-water ports afforded to her by the Assad government in Syria. So, here is where the old adage, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend,” comes to play.
Ergo: Every Arab or Persian enemy of Russia’s aspirations is also an enemy of Israel. That causes Russia to want to become a friend to Israel. From Putin’s point of view, he has to see the possibility of a nuclear-armed Iran as a major military threat. Meanwhile, President Assad in Syria does not pose a big threat to Israel because Assad is busy fighting off radical Islamist rebels.
In fact, it can be argued that the animosity of the Arab states that surround Israel toward Israel is now more illusory than real and is just being used by the Arab states as a public-relations rallying point to keep their gum-chewing, low-information masses believing that their lack of consumer goods, sewers, modern medical care, and flush toilets is the fault of the Israelis.
The Persians over in Iran are, however, a different matter because the Iranians are leading the world’s Shiites in an uncivil religious war with the Sunnis of the Arab states for the soul of Islam. Ultimately, one brand of Islam is likely to win out over the other brand. Once the Sunnis and Shiites get their acts together, look for them to assault the Judeo-Christian nations in such a way as to make 9/11 seem like a minor move on the Richter Magnitude Scale.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu understand President Obama has abandoned the Middle East and is gutting the U.S. Army and the Marines so they will no longer have the ability to conduct land warfare. In those areas where their mutual interests coincide, look for Russia and Israel to fill the resulting power vacuum.
With the U.S. out of the picture, it is now left to Putin and Netanyahu to figure out how they can help each other secure their vital interests in the Mediterranean and in the rest of the global-trading world.
Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, was educated at the University of Oklahoma, the George Washington University, the U.S Naval War College, the University of Nebraska, and Harvard University.