Play your own game and strike where it hurts


February 27, 2015 by AK

Apart from discussions of whether the US should make use of its military potential in certain parts of the world, there is also disagreement on where it should do so, and in what order of priority. I have heard calls for Iran or ISIS to be prioritized over Ukraine – even though a direct military intervention in Ukraine is not on the cards – and worse, for Ukraine to be left to Putin’s mercy in order to neuter Iran and ISIS.

David Goldman aka Spengler believes, like Putin, that Ukraine is “barely a country, rather an amalgam of provinces” and advocates partition. At the same time, he wants the US to get directly involved in Iran because – with Russia’s help, triggered by the alleged US interference in Ukraine – Iran is growing into a credible, immediate, existential threat to Israel.

Likewise, Alan Dershowitz believes that “Iran is so much more dangerous than ISIS,” which is but “a passing blip.” Dershowitz mercifully leaves out Ukraine, but that does not change the big question, Should the US give priority to protecting Israel, or Kurdistan, or Ukraine, and will protecting two or three at once overstretch the US military?

The fact that the ayatollahs have ruled Iran for 35 years is an abomination, of course, and the fact that the strict recent sanctions have not yet brought them down is a depressant to anti-Putin hopefuls. But Goldman’s suggestion that, in order to win the geopolitical chess game, Americans should sacrifice Ukraine and attack Iran is simply wrong.

Because… because you don’t play with cheating partners. Because a Russian saying goes, “Offer him a finger and he’ll bite off your hand.” Because confronting him can slice a few knots while compromising will leave behind more tangles. And because Ukraine is close to home.


  1. […] crises at once: Iran, ISIS, Ukraine. Some lobbyists and foreign policy experts are arguing for prioritizing one or another crisis; voices in support of Ukraine’s priority are getting drowned out. […]

  2. […] have written on the “squeeze Iran, disarm Ukraine” line of geopolitical thinking in this post, and JCass discussed it in the comments to this entry. In three sentences, the logic in question is […]

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