America’s Top Geostrategic Threat?
Russia is the most significant geopolitical player actively opposing significant American interests.
We had a spirited discussion here yesterday over Mitt Romney’s declaration that Russia is Our “Number One Foe”.
Responding to a Los Angeles Times survey, two of my Atlantic Council colleagues make a pretty good case that Iran is the top contender for that title. In a follow-up blog, “America’s Number One Geostrategic Threat?” I defend Romney.
Romney is certainly right that Russia is the most significant geopolitical player actively opposing significant American interests. While China is generally touted as the bogeyman for those desperate to find a “peer competitor” against which to justify massive military spending, it’s a regional power with limited global ambitions. Russia, by contrast, has ambitions which directly counter our own in the area that has traditionally been the focus of American foreign policy: Europe.
Iran is an isolated player with no reach beyond its neighborhood. Yes, it’s a major supporter of terrorist groups. Then again, so is Saudi Arabia. Yes, it’s seeking to acquire a nuclear weapon. Then again, Pakistan and North Korea already have them. Yes, it uses its status as an energy exporter to gain leverage beyond its weight. Then again, so does Russia.
Russia is certainly seen as a threat by the countries in its “Near Abroad.” It invaded and occupied Georgia months after NATO declared its future membership a sure thing. Many if not most of NATO’s newest members see Russia as far and away the number one threat facing them and wish the Alliance would turn its focus back to Article 5.
Further, as Romney notes, Iran would be less of a threat if Russia were on our side in seeking to contain that threat.
I include two rather major caveats, however. First, I dismiss Romney’s posturing against Obama’s Russia policy, specifically on nuclear weapons, as unserious “election year hype.” Second, I contend that the notion of “America’s #1 geopolitical foe” is an “outmoded concept.”
But the core of Romney’s argument here is meritorious.
Photo: Race For Iran.