Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Now that our arbitrary one-year negotiating deadline with the Iranians has ended, apparently we're not talking to them anymore, so it's back to blowing massive amounts of political capital trying to get China and Russia to sign on to comparatively inconsequential increases in the UN sanctions regime on Iran.

The above-linked article, which pretty accurately describes why the negotiations didn't achieve anything, makes me MAD. And here's why.

1. The sanctions are guaranteed to fail (seriously, anyone want to put $100 on this? I'll be happy to take your money), but they will, kinda like the Cuba embargo, give the regime more nationalist cred and help keep it in power. They would give us better leverage with Iran... if we were bothering to continue talking to them. Without that, they're useless at best.

2. Iran's economy is overwhelmingly oil-based, so all non-oil-related sanctions will have limited effect. The last time we tried an oil embargo on a prominent Middle Eastern country, it was called Oil-For-Food, and that didn't work out so well.

3. Since the sanctions won't work, the next step will be calling for the US or Israel to bomb Iran... which is stupid because Iran has mastered the fuel cycle and can enrich uranium everywhere. It's way too late for aistrikes. Four years ago, maybe. Today? All that would happen is, at most, a delay of a year or so in their program, and that Iran would leave the NPT, which in turn would mean that we would lose virtually all our knowledge and verification capacity about their program. Bombing Iran is the surest way to ensure they develop nuclear weapons.

Note also: If we bomb Iran, the green movement will not greet us as liberators.

4. It wasn't a year we negotiated with Iran. it was less than 4 months, because we (wisely) waited until their election chaos was over and didn't start actual meetings with them until, like, September.

5. The Iranians also deserve heaps of blame for this for missing a golden opportunity. Now, they're stuck on a nuclear track that will probably lead to a nuclear-armed Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and a handful of other regional countries within the next 20 years. Good job, guys. But that still doesn't excuse the Western powers for demanding too much too quickly of a regime that distrusts the heck out of us.

So basically we gave ourselves four months to try a policy that has the best chance to work and costs nothing before reverting back to a policy that has failed and will continue to fail.


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