how bad really is the nuclear threat iran poses for the modern world? a new york times photo of a square in teheran shows that the leitmotif of street decoration in the persian capital consists of a display of weapons. the scene is pathetic, actually... a backward economy, an oil-poor nation trying to secure itself a place in the world as the spearhead of islamic jehad while being despised and feared by the muslim world around it.
the scene in nyt is reminiscent of the latter-day soviet empire. naturally, the much further modernized russians paraded their arsenal with much more aesthetic coreography but the essence remains the same: dread me, for i am guided by fright myself. like russia under communism (*), iran is pressed under economic problems of all sorts and since it has a totally and thoroughly oil dependent economy, its sole choice to maintain its awkward and retarded power structure under the disguise of national integrity and islamic jehad, is to bribe a jobless, profession-less, generally ill educated hordes with oil money (**). the already overloaded military expenditures are bound to take a toll on the state's budget and the public's welfare in due time - which cannot be too far ahead.
therefore, just as it drove the soviets to the same corner, it is in america's interests to push iran to spend more on military matters. the main factor that may slow washington from pushing teheran to bankruptcy is the imponderability of iranian leadership. more specifically, the u.s. considers the probability that once squeezed into a corner, iran's bizarre and idiosyncratic president mahmoud ahmadinajad may try an attack on israel and the buttcake may hit the fan. however, that is, ahmadinajad knows just as well as everybody else, but a suicidal option. not only because militarily, iran's success is not anywhere near a plausible probability but a war will devastate its moribund economy, too.
now, increasing the economic pressure on teheran by expanding the sanctions, nyt reports, is more of a possibility since ahmadinajad went overboard with the nuclear threat in his u.n. address which assured any civilized person on this earth that he is not compatible in any aspect with modernity. the europeans are now likelier, as president nicholas sarkozy of france indicated, to back america's policies against iran despite "dubya" bush - mainly, economic and commercial sanctions based on boycotting iran's oil trade and crumpling its revenues. the imponderable factors here figure as russia and china, who, it is feared, may continue cavorting with teheran and may even attempt at solidifying some buyers' monopoly over its oil.
russia is a card laid face down; however, china is much more susceptible to pressure from the west even than iran, in the eventuality it tries to circumvene the blockade against ahmadinajad's belligerence. chinese development and prosperity rest on imported capital and technology, as well as clement western markets. chinese products, whose prices are not exactly determined in a fashion foreseen by capitalism-proper, threaten western industries. if the west openly or secretly pressurizes china and "punishes" it for dealing with iran, despite the coalition of capitalists, a trade ban or limitation that only requires china to comply with the basic rules of market economy can leave china commercially stranded, with lots of cheap produce it cannot sell in any of its "natural" markets.
thus, the nuclear situation may serve not only to rob the chief evil, iran, of its own treasury, it may also help drag china, the economic loose cannon, to toe the line of proper capitalism.
russia? it currently survives by selling oil. is it going to re-sell the oil it buys alone from iran? import and re-export chinese toys and motorbikes? big deal...
(*) not that the ex-communist led neo-tzarist russia has left that corner behind it...
(**) actually, not with oil money even but oil itself... when the sanctions and military spending forced the government to cut down on free petrol rations of the people, a rare mélee against the mullah regime broke out recently.