More Iran Noise?

Over the past couple of years, ignoring the chatter about Iran’s nuclear program was the right course of action for traders. But maybe that is no longer the case. President Obama is making it a big deal now, and is supported by Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy (but not Dmitry Medvedev).

Another sign was the “hasty phone call after midnight” that Obama made to the Czech prime minister announcing the cancellation of the “missile shield.” Why so hasty? George Friedman thinks it was because events were in danger of spiraling out of control and Obama was desperately trying to get the Russians to go along with sanctions on Iran and head-off an Israeli strike on Iran.

(The Russians can supply all of Iran’s gasoline needs by rail, so a naval blockade of Iran’s gasoline imports could be defeated by the Russians.)

Here is Friedman’s conclusion:

“The Russians may be betting that Obama will fold. They made the same bet on John F. Kennedy. Obama reads the same reports that we do about how the Russians believe him to be weak and indecisive. And that is a formula for decisive — if imprudent — action.”

Friedman wrote that before Obama’s Iran offensive at the G20, so he predicted what Obama did, and that gives credence to his strategic assessment.