Iran's political chessboard
Asia Times Online has a fascinating article by Michael T. Klare, author of Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America's Growing Dependence on Imported Petroleum, which looks at the Iran issue through the lens of the tripolar chessboard--whose players include the United States, Russia, and China. Klare writes:
It is certainly true that US President George W Bush and Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad are the leading protagonists in this drama, with each making inflammatory statements about the other to whip up public support at home.
But an informed reading of recent international diplomacy surrounding the Iranian crisis suggests that another equally fierce - and undoubtedly more important - struggle is also taking place: a tripolar contest among the United States, Russia and China for domination of the greater Persian Gulf/Caspian Sea region and its mammoth energy reserves.
When it comes to grand strategy, top Bush administration officials have long attempted to maintain US dominance over the "global chessboard" (as they see it) by diminishing the influence of the only other significant players, Russia and China.
...As the crisis over Iran unfolds, most of the news commentary will continue to focus on the war of words between Washington and Tehran. Political insiders understand, however, that the most significant struggle is the one that remains just out of sight, pitting Washington against Moscow and Beijing in the battle for global influence and energy domination. From this perspective, Iran is just one battlefield - however significant - in a far larger, more long-lasting, and momentous contest. (Read whole article...)