Choosing an enemy

We can’t confront both Iran and Russia. Hilzoy thinks this is a reason to go easy on Russia over Georgia. I’d go the other way.

Hilzoy and I agree: the U.S. has to decide between giving Iran a hard time and giving Russia a hard time.

We disagree about which one to give a hard time to. Russia is much scarier, and Iran is much more likely to become friendly as a result of its internal political development, a likelihood which goes down if the U.S. makes Iran out enemy. The folks running Russia are going to keep running it, with damned little evidence of any substantial bloc of Russian voters who would like it to be run otherwise. In the short run, Iran can help a lot or hurt a lot in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Yes, the Bush Administration would look a little silly suddenly deciding that Adolph Ahmadi-nejad isn’t really a bad guy after all, but the Bush Administration isn’t going to be in power much longer than the Musharraf Administration. I say we offer Iran generous terms and settle down to contain Russia once again.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: