Yesterday and today, the House foreign affairs committee and the Senate banking committee approved new sanctions legislation, the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act (IRPSA), designed to punish Iran for its nuclear program. The legislation, written by Howard Berman, one of Aipac’s leading stooges (er, friends) on the Hill, targets oil-related products. I noted in earlier posts that the otherwise progressive J Street has publicly endorsed it as “thoughtful and nuanced.” At the same time, Jeremy Ben Ami, during the J Street national conference, suggested the contradictory notion that U.S. policy should embrace diplomatic efforts, but not yet sanctions.
Trita Parsi noted during the same conference that anti-Iran sanctions have been in place for 15 years and have had virtually no effect other than to entrench the Revolutionary Guards who profit immensely from the smuggling trade. The same will likely happen in spades when the new sanctions take effect. At a recent hawkish pro-Israel Seattle presentation on Iran, an Aipac representative conceded that sanctions have virtually no impact on the leadership, but instead punish the common Iranian. His response: “That’s the price they have to pay.”
Make no mistake about it, this policy is bought and paid for by the Israeli government and its domestic agent, Aipac. Congress is following the rules as indirectly laid down by the Netanyahu government. Certainly, there is strong sentiment for such a policy among American Jews as well. So in effect Berman and his buddies are doing something that makes their friends at Aipac at happy while also satisfying their wealthy Jewish donors and even rank and file Jews.
Regardless of all this, sanctions are a recipe for failure. Every major Iran analyst says this including Trita Parsi, Hillary and Flynt Leverett, Roger Cohen, Anthony Cordesman, and many others. More than this, after sanctions fail and Iran’s nuclear ambitions still remain unrestrained, that is when the calls for military solutions will ring loudly from Tel Aviv to Capital Hill. It will then be hard to avoid the siren call of armed force. Virtually all of Israel will be singing the tune. Iran war hawks in the Israel lobby and Congress will be joining in.
What causes me great fear is that like Ulysses’ men, we will be lured into war by the entrancing notes of the Sirens, notes that will lead many to leap to their proverbial death, just as Greek mariners did before the Greek hero finally succeeded in defying their lulling call. I worry that by the time we have convinced enough Americans and fellow Jews that current policy is doomed to fail, we will be too late and the bombs will fall and blood will flow.
In a related matter, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan began a visit to Iran yesterday which appeared to mark both a growing closeness between the two nations and a growing distancing of Turkey and western nations like Israel, the EU, and the U.S. It is no accident that Erdogan expressed his displeasure today with the mounting pressure exerted by the west on Iran. This is yet another signal of the major east-west fissure that will come if Israel and the U.S. exert mounting pressure on Iran and even resort to force to secure their desired policy outcome.
You know, this strikes me as one potential problem with, say, Obama being able to punish Netanyahu over the settlements issue (assuming he had actually stuck with the “no new growth” policy instead of folding in public). At least from what I’ve read, there’s enough Israel support in Congress that if he tried to cut off some form of aid, Congress would probably pass it again with huge majorities in both houses right over his veto.
RE: “the House foreign affairs committee and the Senate banking committee approved new sanctions legislation, the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act (IRPSA), designed to punish Iran for its nuclear program.”
MY COMMENT: This action just facilitates/encourages the emergence of the “Russia-Iran-China diplomatic triad” (or possibly a ‘quad’ including Turkey) as discussed in the below-referenced article.
PLEASE SEE: “Tomgram: Dilip Hiro, Is Obama’s Iran Policy Doomed to Fail?”, by Dilip Hiro and Tom Engelhardt, 10/29/09
(excerpts)…When it comes to the nuclear conundrum, what distinguishes China and Russia from the U.S. is that they have conferred unconditional diplomatic recognition and acceptance on the Islamic Republic of Iran. So their commercial and diplomatic links with Tehran are thriving. Indeed, a sub-structure of pipelines and economic alliances between hydrocarbon-rich Russia, Iran, and energy-hungry China is now being forged. In other words, the foundation is being laid for the emergence of a Russia-Iran-China diplomatic triad in the not-too-distant future, while Washington remains stuck in an old groove of imposing “punishing” sanctions against Tehran for its nuclear program… – Hiro
…As a small example of a sort that largely escapes mainstream American reporting, and that you’re only likely to notice if you visit a website like the War in Context, Turkey, too, is moving closer to Iran and energy is again at the heart of the matter. Among other things, Turkey is now negotiating for a huge expansion of Iranian natural gas supplies flowing from its enormous South Pars field to, and through, Turkey, while its prime minister has just visited Tehran… – Engelhardt
ENTIRE ARTICLE – http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175132/dilip_hiro_is_obama_s_iran_policy_doomed_to_fail_
ALSO POSTED AT – http://original.antiwar.com/engelhardt/2009/10/29/why-obamas-iran-policy-will-fail/
RE: “BERMAN IRAN SANCTIONS BILL APPROVED BY HOUSE, SENATE COMMITTEES”
ALSO FROM THE HIRO PORTION OF THE ABOVE-REFERENCED ARTICLE (“Why Obama’s Iran Policy Will Fail – Stuck in Bush Mode in a Changed World”): During a recent meeting with Iran’s first vice president, Muhammad Reza Rahimi, in Beijing, Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao stressed the importance of cooperation between the two countries when it comes to hydrocarbons and trade (at $29 billion a year, and rising), as well as “greater coordination in international affairs.” Little wonder, then, that China has already moved to neutralize any sanctions that the United States — backed by Britain, France and Germany — might impose on Iran without United Nations authorization.
Foremost among these would be a ban on the export of gasoline to Iran, whose oil refining capacity falls significantly short of domestic demand. Chinese oil corporations have already started shipping gasoline to Iran to fill the gap caused by a stoppage of supplies from British and Indian companies anticipating Washington’s possible move. Between June and August 2009, China signed $8 billion worth of contracts with Iran to help expand two existing Iranian oil refineries to produce more gasoline domestically and to help develop the gigantic South Pars natural gas field. Iran’s national oil corporation has also invited its Chinese counterparts to participate in a $42.8 billion project to construct seven oil refineries and a 1,000 mile trans-Iran pipeline that will facilitate pumping petroleum to China. – HIRO
THE HIRO PART OF THE ARTICLE IS ALSO POSTED AT – http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/10/29-7
P.S. Thanks AIPAC/Berman/Saban! I disagree with what you are doing, but your actions may ultimately help to rein in Israeli/American hegemony (their efforts at “securing the Realm”, to use the Perle-Feith-Wurmser lingo*). So, the unintended consequences of your myopic, misguided actions might well be to my liking. For without the inadvertent assistance of the mighty elite, no goal of the peasantry can ever be achieved. – J.L.D.
* A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Clean_Break:_A_New_Strategy_for_Securing_the_Realm
RE: “BERMAN IRAN SANCTIONS BILL APPROVED BY HOUSE, SENATE COMMITTEES”
SEE: “US warily leans to new Iran sanctions over nukes”, by Matthew Lee, AP News, 10/30/09
…the administration is quietly supporting legislation in Congress that would give President Barack Obama a broad new array of authority to target Iran’s energy sector by penalizing foreign firms that sell and ship refined petroleum products to Iran. The regime is heavily dependent on gasoline, kerosene and propane imports.
The legislation would also allow the administration to go after insurance and reinsurance concerns that cover oil tankers and their cargo…
ENTIRE ARTICLE – http://wire.antiwar.com/2009/10/30/us-warily-leans-to-new-iran-sanctions-over-nukes/
RE: “Turkey, too, is moving closer to Iran and energy is again at the heart of the matter” – Tom Engelhardt
SEE: Iran, Turkey aim for $20 billion trade by 2011, Ynet/Reuters, 10/30/09
> > Deals between two countries include power plants, industrial zone, bank branches < <
(excerpt) Iran and Turkey said they agreed on Wednesday to strengthen energy, banking and transport ties in a drive to almost treble trade between the two neighbours to $20 billion in the next few years…
…Iran, the world's fifth-largest oil exporter, is Turkey's second-biggest supplier of natural gas after Russia.
Rahimi said the two sides reached a series of agreements, including building two power plants, setting up a free industrial zone on both sides of the border and on Iranian and Turkish banks opening branches in the other country.
He said there were also agreements covering Iranian gas exports to Europe via Turkey and on Turkish investments in Iran's South Pars gas field and in the Caspian Sea, but gave no details.
RE: ‘”the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act (IRPSA)”
MY COMMENT: Iran has also been considering converting its internal combustion-powered vehicles to run on its domestically available ‘natural gas’ rather than gasoline. It would be great if the AIPAC/Berman/Saban blockade of Iran’s importation of refined petroleum products prompts Iran to convert a significant part of its fleet to natural gas. This might serve as a ‘pilot project’ for other countries with an abundant domestic supply of ‘natural gas’. It makes more sense than relying upon the environmentally offensive, energy consuming process of refining petroleum. Leave the ‘dirty work’ to the “West” (countries that recklessly squandered their own hydrocarbon endowments once they had been misappropriated from the indigenous inhabitants).
There is no need for Iran to serve as a “pilot project” since most motor vehicles in Pakistan already run on natural gas.
Good for them! Unfortunately, I don’t think they have much of a domestic supply of natural gas, and the U.S. is about to eliminate Iran as a source.
Actually, Pakistan has pretty significant natural gas reserves.
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“Iran’s nuclear ambitions still remain unrestrained”
It is important to repeat – and repeat, and repeat, and repeat – that the best information we have so far suggests that Iran’s “nuclear ambitions” are well within its rights as a signatory to the NPT. It is also important to keep in mind that if Iran’s “nuclear ambitions” do in fact include the development of nuclear weapons, the main reason for those ambitions is certainly the desire for a deterrent against attack, and therefore worst possible way to try to discourage those ambitions is to present a credible threat of attack.
Richard Silverstein says
I absolutely agree.
Unfortunately, what you state makes far too much sense. Ergo, it must not be true!