Monday, April 19, 2010


Juan Cole in his Informed Comment gives cogent arguments why U.S. sanctions against Iran will never work. Furthermore, Cole dismisses, as I do, any positive benefit from a military strike against Iran. Obama, forget sanctions. Don't even think of military bombing. We need to negotiate with Iran and discuss more than just its nuclear program.

Writes Cole:

"The Obama administration is now moving tighten economic sanctions on Iran, as an alternative to a more direct approach. These measures include pressuring countries and firms not to buy Iranian petroleum and gas; pressuring them not to sell gasoline to Iran; and attempting to make it difficult for Iranian banks to interface with the world economic system.

"While these measures could impose costs on Iran, these costs can easily be borne by the country, and more especially by the regime."

Sanctions hardly work. They have not worked in Cuba and not have disturbed Fidel Castro's grip on power. They did not work in Iraq. And they will not work in Iran. Sanctions just raise the hackles on the backs of Iranians who would surely resent an outside nation (i.e., the U.S.) trying to force their government to change its nuclear development policy.

Observes Cole:

"Very few sanctions regimes have actually produced regime change or altered regime behavior. The US could not even accomplish this goal with regard to a small island 90 miles off its shores, Cuba. That an oil giant half way around the world with a population of 70 million that is as big as Spain, France and Germany can be effectively bludgeoned with sanctions is not very likely.

"The US needs to engage in comprehensive security talks with Iran, in hopes of striking a grand bargain. Because as Admiral Mullen rightly says, there are no good military options here."

I agree fully with Juan Cole. Both sanctions and military action are ineffective and counter-productive.

We need to sit down and talk with Iranian leaders. And we cannot continue to insist that we first come to an agreement on Iranian nuclear development before we will talk on other issues. Such pre-conditions are silly, without rational basis, and are insulting to Iranians, as they would be to anyone. By talking with Iranian leaders, we show respect to Iran and the Iranian people that we respect them because they are Iranians, a great people with thousands of years of culture and tradition.

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