Who is playing whom?

President Obama’s “reset” of relations with Russia does not appear to have translated into Russian support for strong sanctions against Iran. According to the Washington Post, Russian President Medvedev has told Obama that there are limits to his country’s support for sanctions.
What are those limits? According to the Post, sanctions must not create economic hardship for Iran, foment financial chaos, or lead to regime change. In other words, sanctions must not produce any result that might conceivably cause the Iranian regime to give up its quest for nuclear weapons.
But even Russian approval for watered-down sanctions would not mean the imposition of such sanctions. China, which like Russia is a member of the Security Council, must also give its approval. And China reportedly is even less enthusiastic about sanctions than Russia.
One gets the impression that Russia and China are playing Obama. But this assumes that Obama cares about obtaining harsh sanctions against Iran, as opposed to gaining half-hearted measures he can point to as a diplomatic accomplishment. I don’t assume this. Instead, I suspect that Russia, China, and Obama are playing Israel and the rest of us who fear a nuclear Iran.
JOHN adds: A skeptic might almost say that Obama’s “reset” consists of bringing our foreign policy goals more in line with Russia’s.

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