In Russia, Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy is nursed on grievances about a lost empire, America as the sole superpower and the independence of cocky former Soviet republics. In the thinking of oil-exporting Russia, anything that causes America to squirm and world oil prices to soar is a win/win situation. That’s why Russia supplies Iran with its reactor technology and stirs the nuclear pot.
China, like Russia, is a large nuclear power and doesn’t fear all that much Iranian missiles that it thinks are more likely to be pointed westward anyway. True, it would like calm in the Gulf to ensure safe oil supplies, but thinks it still could do business with a nuclear Iran.
And, as in the case of Russia, anything that bothers the United States can’t be all that bad for Beijing. While Ahmadinejad ties the U.S. down in the Middle East, China thinks it will have more of a free hand to expand its influence in the Pacific.
Then there’s the complacent situation here at home. After Afghanistan and Iraq, most Americans don’t feel we’re up to a third war. Some point to nuclear Pakistan and believe we could likewise live with Iran having the bomb.
A few on the left even feel that a nuclear Iran would remind us of our own limitations in imposing our will and influence abroad. They belittle the current warnings of George Bush and Dick Cheney about Iran’s nuclear program, shrugging that the two used to say similar things about Saddam and his nonexistent arsenal of weapons of mass destruction.
Meanwhile, much of the rest of the world, represented in the U.N.’s General Assembly, feels that a nuclear Iran offers comeuppance to a haughty United States, Israel and Europe without threatening anyone else.
Ahmadinejad may be viewed across the globe as a dangerous religious nut. But to many, he, like Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez, also represents an anti-capitalist, anti-globalization popular front against America and therefore shouldn’t be ostracized.
So who wants a nuclear Iran?
No one and everyone.