Blogger Matt Stone at the Global Buzz speculates that Condoleezza Rice’s commentary on the Iranian missile (the photos of which appear to have been partially faked) during her visit to Georgia has drawn Tbilisi into the spat, with a double entendre warning to both Tehran and Moscow:
Iran fires off some missiles, US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice responds with the statement “We take very, very strongly our obligations to defend our allies and no one should be confused of that,” in Tbilisi, Georgia, with Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili at her side. Rice was visiting Georgia during a time of escalating tensions between the United States and Russia over the Georgian separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Does anyone else get the sense that Secretary Rice’s words were meant for the Russians as much as the Iranians? The missile defense system in Europe that the Czech Republic endorsed a few days ago irks the Kremlin to no end, but it’s designed to protect European allies from a handful of Iranian ballistic missiles. Because Russia’s nuclear arsenal is so large, the interceptor system in Europe would do little to undermine Russia’s nuclear deterrent. Nevertheless, the interceptor system is one bargaining chip in the US-Russia relationship (which includes disagreements over the territorial integrity of US ally Georgia). The nexus of the Iranian threat and US-Russian relations is one to watch. Rice’s comments towards the Iranians (and possibly the Russians) in Tbilisi only deepened the intersection of important global developments in Europe/the Caucasus and Iran.