by Najmedin Meshkati
Greetings from Moscow, dear Donald! It was nice seeing you in Helsinki. I loved our tag-team in the news conference: it was fun! Also, thanks for backing me up, we should do it more! I hope that your son liked the World Cup football I handed you. Of course, it’s less risky than playing with your “football”! :-)
I am writing to thank you, Donald the Great, for helping me make Russia great again. What you have done by unilaterally withdrawing from Iran nuclear deal (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA) and by re-imposing and adding more sanctions on Iran on November 5 was a blessing for us and I love it! And here is why. The resource-rich Iran still needs to feed and take care of its more than 80 million people. And I am there for them, right up the road on the Caspian Sea, that technically and for all practical purpose makes us neighbors. BTW & FYI, at my behest, we just signed a major agreement divvying it up with Iran and three other littoral states.
Donald, I cannot thank you enough for pushing Iran deeper into my lap, which in the near future will become entirely a “client state” of Russia. Pretty soon I will be their largest supplier, trading partner, freight forwarder, middleman, salesman, banker, capital projects builder, and agent, all combined! I will buy or swap their oil and gas dirt cheap and sell mine at higher prices to any customer and make tons of money! (But wait a minute: I have to be careful of your trade menace, the sneaky Xi (Jinping) who is my menace too! He undoubtedly will try to compete with me, as he dreams to corner Iran’s market by bartering for their discounted oil and selling them all sort of Chinese goods and services, as well as pushing for his new global initiative of building more “belts and roads”!)
As you may have heard, Donald, between the two of us, in a porous world, sanctions are ineffective. Exhibit A: North Korea. Imposing more sanctions on foreign companies that trade with Iran highlights a foreign policy dilemma: isolating Iran at the cost of alienating your European allies. But who cares, you have me! Also, you can just blame everything on your favorite punching bag, Obama and his “leading from behind” policy.
We in Russia are so grateful to one of your predecessors, Harry Truman and his Secretary of State Dean Acheson, for their policy of containment. Their refusal to fund President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s construction of the Aswan Dam further radicalized the Egyptian leader, pushing him into the arms of the Soviet Union. We Russians loved it! And their policy towards China pushed Chairman Mao Zedong to greater extremes, but who cares, this is old news!
As one of your countrymates, George Santayana, once said, “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” More sanctions on Iran could result in dire, inevitable, unintended consequences, including but not limited to, further radicalization of the Iranian regime, but who cares, this is hoax!
Also, don’t listen to Henry Kissinger, who advised your country only four years ago:
Pursuing its own strategic objectives, the United States can be a crucial factor—perhaps the crucial factor—in determining whether Iran pursues the path of revolutionary Islam or that of a great nation legitimately and importantly lodged in the Westphalian system of states. But America can fulfill that role only on the basis of involvement, not of withdrawal.
Don’t worry, dear Donald, these are some facts that only eggheads or liberals believe in and recycle. We have our own alternative facts!
Regardless of what you do to Iran, the country is my neighbor and represents my fastest growing export market. Among the big-ticket items that I’ve sold them is a huge costly nuclear power reactor, which is now operational in Bushehr on the Persian Gulf coast. As you know, I am building two more multi-billion dollars reactors on the same site! In fact, I expect to build even more reactors in Iran, as my foreign minister promised during his visit in Tehran in December 2013. Between us, when the JCPOA was signed in July 2015, I got very worried that Iran might cancel my contracts and buy from other reactor suppliers, but now, again thanks to you, I am relieved.
How can I thank you more Donald for this generous gift! Peter the Great—who BTW wasn’t so great, as you and I know, since whenever we want to find a great man, we just look in a mirror— and other tsars of Russia had always longed for warm waters, but now thanks to you, Donald the Great, and Vladimir the Great, Russia will have full access to Iranian ports on the Persian Gulf. And unlike the territorial annexation of lousy Crimea, which cost me so much blood and treasure and gave me so much headache with fainthearted Europeans, I am virtually annexing Iranian economy to the Russian economic system. That’s something that my not-so-great predecessors, even after defeating Iranian armies in two wars, capturing their territories, and signing two humiliating peace treaties (Gulistan and Turkmenchay in 1813 and 1828, respectively) never achieved.
My last move will be to apply the Finlandization formula to Iran and straighten its wayward foreign policy. I have to wait only for two more years when the term of office of these embattled moderate guys, Hassan Rouhani and his foreign minister (Javad) Zarif, and there is a new presidential election. And just like 2005, when that reformist Khatami was rebuffed by “W” (Bush) and the disgruntled Iranian people elected the skinny hardliner (Mahmood) Ahmadinejad, I am sure that a hardliner endorsed by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp will be elected. As you know, I get along nicely with the IRGC, who were instrumental in recently welcoming me to a major airbase in Hamadan to fly our beautiful Russian bombers to Syria.
One more thing that I have to thank you for, dear Donald, is sparing me from having to travel to Iran in the near future. Can you believe that I traveled to Iran three times in the last three years. Can you imagine what my large entourage and I had to go through in such a dry and boring land where we can’t even get one bottle of vodka. No wonder Boris the Drunk (Yeltsin) avoided them at all costs! :-) Now thanks to you I got what I wanted and I don’t need to court them anymore.
We in Russia love you dear Donald. Next time we get together, please remind me to award you Russia’s “Order of Friendship” medal. It is the same one I gave to Rex Tillerson, which I later regretted, as he was not good enough and you also fired him. BTW, please make sure to tell him either to return the medal or reimburse me.
Hope to see you again in the near future at our summit of The Greats!
Najmedin Meshkati, a professor of engineering and international relations at the University of Southern California (USC), was a Jefferson Science Fellow and a Senior Science and Engineering Advisor, Office of Science and Technology Adviser to the Secretary of State at the US State Department (2009-2010). Presently on sabbatical at Harvard, he has developed and taught a course on Engineering Diplomacy at USC.