Welcome to Christmas 2008!
The economy is in the tank, layoffs are happening everywhere, the dollar is falling, and oil prices are also falling. Now, if the mice would just come out of their holes!
The Iraq War is settling down to a war of attrition, but the Iranian situation remains strong. Let's talk about it for a while.
Russia may be sending new missiles to Iran. Why? There are several advantages for Russia:
First, it raises much needed foreign exchange now that oil has tanked. At $50 a barrel and less, the Russians are spending more than their oil revenue can raise. (The same can be said about the Iranians, but they seem to think that they need missiles.)
Second, it allows the Russians to maintain good relations with folks that have tremendous influence over Islamic extremists in areas such as Azerbaijan and Central Asia. Simply put, the Russians are a bit concerned about the Iranians and their ability to cause Russia trouble.
Third, it tweaks the noses of the Americans and the Europeans. Russia has a long-term goal of remaining independent in foreign policy, just as the other classic Great Powers do. Sending missiles to Iran is a way of doing this without too much risk.
Fourth, the Russians will be able to test their missile's capabilities without too much risk. Of course, this may backfire with poor publicity. Remember when the Russian MIGs were sold to the Syrian air force, only to be destroyed in a 44:1 ratio by the Israeli's in 1979? Best for the Russians to sell before the American or Israeli attack.
Fifth, the Russians can always insert bugs into the missiles to be triggered as needed, reducing the risk that those missiles will be used on the Russians. And - who knows? - the Russians might trigger those bugs when the UN decides to take out the Iranian nuclear program. It gives the Russians more real power.