VIENNA 1815: The great powers of Europe; Russia, Prussia, Great Britain and Austria, meet in Vienna with the representative of a France defeated, disarmed and occupied by foreign troops. That representative, Prince Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand, playing a dismally weak hand, managed to maintain France’s central position in Europe after a decade and a half of constant warfare that resulted in France’s final disastrous defeat. Talleyrand was later dubbed “The Prince of Diplomats.”
VIENNA 2015. The great powers: The United States, Russia, China, Germany, Great Britain and France meet with the representatives of The Islamic Republic of Iran, reeling from years of economic and financial sanctions and falling oil prices. Playing this weak hand, the principal Iranian negotiator, Mohammed Zarif, won his match with the six powers and put Iran on the unimpeded path to nuclear weapons, lifting of sanctions the return of frozen billions and regional hegemony.
Zarif is not a prince, but no one will be surprised if he is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, along with the principle losing diplomat, John Kerry.
Iran is already taking advantage of its triumph, sending troops to Syria to bolster the collapsing Assad regime, with equipment supply guaranteed by the takeover of a military airfield by its informal ally, Russia. In the past, such convoys sent to resupply Hezbollah were intercepted and destroyed by the Israeli Air Force. In future, any such interception attempt may be met by Russian fighters, and it is highly unlikely that Israel will risk a military confrontation with Russia.
Prime Minister Netanyahu is in Moscow right now to try to convince President Putin to refrain from any such confrontation. The likelihood of success is slim. By aligning Russia with Iran/Assad/Hezbollah, Russia assures its military presence in the eastern Mediterranean, through its new Latakia air base and its naval base in Tartus. By aligning himself with Israel, Putin achieves absolutely nothing.
In the meantime the Israeli political class amuses itself by admitting 20,000 indentured Chinese construction workers and delaying yet again enjoying the natural gas bonanza.
Where is Talleyrand when you need him?
This piece was orginally published in Globes: Israel’s Business Arena.