John McCain and Russia

Stratfor is very premature with their prediction of the next U.S. president (and the reasoning dismissing the Democrats is both brief and flawed), but they are quite right in remarking that foreign governments are already hedging their bets and preparing for several outcomes. The word is that the possible election of Sen. John McCain would impact Russia above all others:

The deepest impact would be felt in Russia and Iran. McCain has become rather famous in Russia for saying that all he saw when he looked into Putin’s eyes were three letters: K, G and B. And Iran is more than a touch nervous about McCain’s assertion that the United States needs to think of its Iraq deployment in a manner similar to that of Germany or South Korea — a decades-long commitment.

The fear of an aggressive United States is not one that will fail to shape Russian and Iranian policies between now and the election. Tehran has been pussy footing around talks with the Bush administration, attempting to get as good of terms as possible on the future of Iraq. If Tehran thought 2009 would bring a more aggressive U.S. presidency, then the logic for reaching a settlement with the Bush administration would increase greatly. Suddenly, the United States could see some dramatic gains in its Middle East policy.The inverse is true for Russia. The Kremlin already is feeling pressure to secure its interests in the former Soviet Union before the United States can extricate itself from Iraq. McCain’s strength raises the possibility not only of a United States that is led by a man who sees the Kremlin leadership as requiring containment, but also of a United States that is no longer bogged down with Iraq and Iran and therefore is free to focus all of its attention on Moscow.