The response of the West to Russia’s invasion has been to dress up in tough rhetoric a helpless message: What can we do? And there isn’t much the free world can do. The most aggressive proposals consist only of arming the Georgian army and throwing military and diplomatic support behind other nations which live in Russia’s crosshairs. One important reality narrows options and prevents serious consideration of a First Gulf War-style response: the fact that Russia is a nuclear power.
This is a lesson surely not lost on the Iranian regime, which like Russia has territorial designs on its neighbors, wishes to play an outsized role in its region, and views an American-allied democracy on its borders (Iraq) with about as much benevolence as Putin views such nations on his borders. Those who confidently predict a “containable and deterrable” nuclear Iran should consider the suddenly not-so-deterrable nuclear Russia and ask themselves whether such confidence is warranted.