Dear President Ahmadinejad:
Have you ever considered the possibility that the Russians might secretly be conspiring with the United States against your government? I know it sounds far-fetched, but, after all, far-fetched is practically your middle name. (As, for example, your denial of the Holocaust. That is about as far-fetched as anyone can get.)
Take it from me, Mahmoud, these days a Russo-American secret entente is just about the only explanation that makes sense when one reviews the strange, strained, nearly strangled relationship between the U.S. and Russia. That relationship is so odd at times that there must be more there than meets the eye. However clichÃ©d, I can't avoid the image of the Matryoshka dolls; you know, the ones with an image of Medvedev on the outside, Putin "nested" underneath, then, underneath them both, Barack Obama. Beneath them all may be the Bibi Netanyahu doll. Have you ever thought of that?
It's possible, I grant you, that the truth is something else. The truth may be that since the Cold War the Americans and Russians have no natural reasons to be adversaries, but they still can't seem to get out of the habit of baiting each other. Fortunately, however, you are likely paranoid and have no truck with the merely apparent truth. Yes, on one level--the level of evident reality--the U.S. and Russia seem to be floundering. But, Mahmoud, that could just be a very clever act.
Barack Obama, having decided recently not to criticize your election and then criticizing it, this past week announced that he was going to Moscow to see President Medevev and was relieved not to have to deal with V. Putin. That would be a bit like Medvedev coming to America and expressing his pleasure at not having to deal with Obama's Congressional leaders, Pelosi and Reid. It had to be a calculated opinion, don't you agree, or else Mr. Obama would have "clarified" it later. The customary kind of Obama clarification would have been, "Actually, after my lengthy official meetings with President Medvedev, I look forward to having tea with Prime Minister Putin, while Michelle hopes to go shopping at the GUM Department Store with Mrs. P."
First ladies Michelle Obama and Svetlana Medvedeva in Moscow
Are serious people (I am imagining you, Mahmoud) to believe such a line as Mr. Obama gave? Yet, did you notice that no one in the Kremlin protested it? Russians and Americans could well be throwing sand in your eyes, Mahmoud.
Ask yourself about the issue of the proposed U.S. missile shield in Eastern Europe, Mr. President. Is it possibly just a designed distraction? Supposedly it is to protect Europe from Iran. After all, Poland and the Czech Republic are probably right on top on your military's target list, right? The Russians object...supposedly. But, Mahmoud, you weren't born under a date palm tree, as Omar Khayyam might have put it. Even you can figure out that any missile shield would take years to produce and meantime....well, the fate of your nuclear weapons capability is not exactly "years" away, is it? So what is all the fuss about?
Maybe the Russians are just annoyed because the people that sent them "Bush's legs" (chicken) to dine on when the Wall fell are now building a guard against possible future Russian military expansion into the "Near Abroad." But while the Russians want influence in those former satellites they are horrified at the prospect of having to pay for them, which is what occupiers have to do. So the main problem appears to be one of what is called public relations. The Americans are stepping on the Russians' pride and the Russians are not at all happy about it. At least, that is how it seems.
Meanwhile, we Americans say we badly want the shield, even though I don't recall the Congress ever debating the matter or it's gaining more than passing interest in the media.
Now, our new American president, the one who planned to demolish the foreign policy of his predecessor and instead mostly has cast it in bronze, is hinting on hard dealing with the Russians about the shield. Obama does not want to give up the shield for which he previously had no use, any more than he now wants Congress to have access to Presidential internal memos of the kind he used to demand that George W. Bush release. (Sorry for the domestic detour here, Mahmoud.)
Anyhow, if someone is gullible enough to believe that Barack Obama and his imperial retinue flew several plane loads of aides and press to Moscow to talk about prospective nuclear missile reductions, and to disagree again about the shield, as the accounts of the Medvedev-Obama talks indicate; well, those persons probably also could be persuaded that you just won a fair re-election in an unprecedented landslide. (By the way, in his days in Iraq, Saddam didn't settle for two-thirds of the vote; he counted 99.9 percent. Congratulations on your much more becoming modesty.)
To conclude, therefore, maybe it only seems that the relationship between the United States and Russia is a fairyland play of mist and mystery, where leading actors walk about in confusion, mistaking others' identities and purposes, making speeches to no one in particular. Maybe they only appear to be stuck in a midsummer's night's dream.
Naw, don't believe it, Mahmoud. The Americans don't have three worthwhile spies in your fair republic, while the Russians are all over the place "helping" you build your nuclear plants. How eager do you think the Ruskies really are to see your demented theocracy get The Bomb? No, Mahmoud, the clever way to see the combined fumbles of the old rival great powers is that deep down, they are combined in a conspiracy. Against you.
You believe a lot of other things. You might as well believe that.
Bruce Chapman, president of Discovery Institute, is a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Organizations in Vienna.