Now repeat after me: Sanctions…do…not…work. I coulda told Obama that before he waded neck deep into the Big Muddy on that one…in fact, I did. A new Gallup poll of Iranians presents what the Washington Post euphemistically calls “worrying” signs that the western sanctions are having precisely the opposite effect that Obama expected. They’re driving rank and file Iranians into the arms of the regime and causing them to blame not their leaders, but the west.
Gallup asked, “Given the scale of the sanctions against Iran, do you think Iran should continue to develop its nuclear power capabilities, or not?” Almost two-thirds of respondents, 63 percent, said yes. Only 17 percent said no…
The poll also found that Iranians are almost five times as likely to blame the United States for sanctions as they are to blame their own government. Even fewer blame Europe or the United Nations, though both are instrumental in the crippling economic sanctions. Pollsters asked, “Which of the following groups do you hold most responsible for sanctions against Iran?” Out of the seven choices, the most popular by far was the United States, with 47 percent. Only 10 percent blamed the Iranian government; 9 percent said Israel…
In recent days, even the NY Times, an ardent supporter of sanctions, published a report from Iran that sanctions were having no appreciable effect on street life in Teheran. Restaurants were full, new businesses springing up. Somehow and against all odds, Iranians were adapting. That doesn’t mean that life is not hard for them. But it does mean that they have figured out ways to adjust, ways to blunt the impact of sanctions.
This is precisely what Iran analysts told policymakers would happen. Three years ago at a conference I organized here in Seattle Keith Weissman and Muhammad Sahimi reviewed the history of two decades of U.S. sanctions efforts against Iran. Their united appraisal was that they don’t work. Yes, you may say, but Obama told us his sanctions were new, more drastic, harder for Iran to wiggle out of. His sanctions were going to work where others before had merely been slaps on the wrist. They haven’t changed very much.
Undoubtedly, the Obama round of sanctions has put the screws to Iran in ways previous ones hadn’t. But they have not inflicted a body blow on Iran or the regime. That’s because they can’t. That’s because there’s only one way that will work–and it ain’t sanctions. It’s negotiations.
For years now Israel has been whistling a tune and Obama’s been joining in harmony: sanctions will break down Iranian resistance. They will cause internal unrest. People will rise up against the mullahs. No sane person would choose a nuclear bomb over bread. Despite a poorly managed economy, Iranians as a whole have bested Israel and Obama. They’ve proven more resilient and tougher than any western policymaker thought possible. It’s about time to re-evaluate. Containment, not sanctions is what will work. Negotiations, not war. The west will have to give up sanctions and offer normalization in return for Iran giving substantial concessions on its nuclear program. Anything short of this is a pipe dream.
Negotiations would only be attempted if the US truly wants to avoid war. This is not the case, obviously. Eons ago, when Obama was a Washington outsider, he spoke of his willingness to negotiate with Iran were he to become POTUS. He was shouted down by all, including Hillary Clinton, his future Secretary of State.
So if as you say :The west will have to give up sanctions and offer normalization in return for Iran giving substantial concessions on its nuclear program.”
Don’t you see the sanctions do work ? The sanctions created a leverage point the west can use in its negotiations with Iran. The west had nothing before, the threat of war was not a big enough stick.
The Iranians will negotiate, they have no other choice.
Richard Silverstein says
Not at all. Sanctions weren’t necessary for that. In 2003, Khatami offered Bush possibly an even more favorable deal which he spurned. Sanctions didn’t cause Khatami to offer it. It was his pragmatic view that a deal based on mutual concessions was necessary for Iran. If anything, the west will now get much less from Iran as a result of the bellicosity of Bibi & Barack.
Whenever anyone says Iran “has no choice” I know that’s either code or a preface to war. It betrays the level of self-delusion in the speaker concerning what Iran is, what it believes, and what it’s willing to do to defend its interests.
But let’s be frank, the idea that sanctions exist to force Iran to the negotiating table is simply an excuse for the stupid. The economic degradation of Iran is the point of the sanctions. As they were in Iraq.
“Critics of sanctions argue that these measures will hurt the Iranian people. Quite frankly, we need to do just that.”
– Representative Brad Sherman (D-CA)
Relatedly, it is clear that sheer malice toward Iran, a Middle Eastern oil producer not under the thumb of a subservient-to-the-West autocrat, plays a big role in all of this.
Dag Kar says
a couple of questions:
1. Why is it that you support BDS, if you think sanctions don’t work?
2. And what is your B plan in case negotiations with Iran don’t work either, and they do end up with a nuclear bomb and the means of launching it?
Richard Silverstein says
I support divestment and sanctions that are targeted specifically at Israeli government policy maintaining the Occupation. I don’t support unlimited, unconditional boycott.
If you support something that doesn’t mean you necessarily believe it will work. I don’t know whether BDS will end the Occupation. But I believe many aspects (though not necessarily all) of BDS are morally defensible & useful. I also believe that Israel, which has essentially only one major international ally is more susceptible to BDS than Iran is to sanctions.
Sanctions against Iran are not morally defensible since NPT nations are entitled to pursue the program and research Iran is pursuing. There is no justification for sanctions. At any rate, these sanctions are applied indiscriminately & harm Iranian civilians.
Don’t you think that BDS harms Israeli civilians? Those who support sanctions on Iran don’t support them indefinitely either, just to cause changes in Iran, just like you want for Israel. And dont you realize that Israel only has one major ally because it is the world’s only Jewish state, and is also very small? Israel is not accepted as part of Arab League or Islamic Conference, or part of African Union, or EU, etc. So you bringing up this aspect of Israel’s vulnerability is quite callous.
And I do remember you saying at one point, on a certain thread, that Israelis “must be made to suffer”. So you certainly are aware of the effects of BDS on Israeli civilians.
Richard Silverstein says
@Bruce T: No, BDS does not harm Israeli civilians. Sanctions are mounted against Israeli and foreign companies which support or enable the Occupation. Sanctions are mounted against Israeli products that originate in the Territories or which are products of Occupation. If you include settlers as Israeli civilians then I suppose you can say it harms Israeli civilians. Though I would place settlers in a different category since they do not live within any internationally recognized nation border of Israel.
Sanctions against Iran will go on indefinitely unless it capitulates to western demands. Once it does this, they will end. But not immediately since by most accounts it would take possibly years to remove them by virtue of the fact that there is legislation in many nations that enforce sanctions that would have to be removed before sanctions ended. The changes sanctions demand are awfully close to regime change. While in Israel, despite what BDS opponents claim, that movement does not demand the end of Israel. Rather, it demands the end of Occupation and recognition of a Right of Return for those refugees who wish to return. And no, unlike the nonsense Mira Surachov published at Open Zion yesterday, 4 million Palestinian refugees are not going to land on Israel’s doorstep all at once.
Israel has only one major ally not because the reason you offered, but because it is an apartheid state that oppresses 4 million Palestinians and steals their land and refuses to resolve its dispute with them. It refuses to end Occupation. Refuses to recognize a Palestinian state, etc.
“Callous?” You must be joking? You want to know what callous is? A 14 year old unarmed Palestinian boy shot by an IDF soldier. Multiply that incident by the thousands. That’s callous.
As for Israelis “suffering,” I’m not averse to forcing Israelis to accept the consequences of their actions. If Israel wants to violate international law (as opposed to Iran, which has not regarding its nuclear program), then it should pay a price.
Come on Richard. You can’t possibly believe the lack of allies is because of the dispute over the Palestinian territories. Do you not realize that the larger Arab and Muslim world stands with the Palestinians, or any other Arab/Muslim group that’s in conflict with Israel, because they are standing with their Arab and Muslim brothers and sisters? Do you really believe that if there were fifty Jewish states, among them dictatorships and theocracies, organized into a Jewish League of States or Organization of the Judaic Conference that Israel wouldn’t have more allies and that the so-called international community wouldn’t be more balanced in it’s handling of the conflict?
Richard Silverstein says
@BruceT: The Arab-Muslim world is not the entire world. Yet the rest of the world shuns Israel as well. Each group has its reasons for shunning, but they all boil down to Israel’s refusal to resolve its conflict with the Palestinians. Its refusal to return conquered territories, to recognize Palestine, share Jerusalem & allow the expelled to return.
The rest of your comment was so full of hypotheticals I couldn’t make heads or tails out of it. It was the equivalent of asking what the world would be like if my mother had been born my father instead. So what?
Bob Mann says
The rest of the world shuns Israel? I’m not sure that statement is entirely accurate.
Richard Silverstein says
Do you believe if Israel did not have the U.S. armory at its disposal any other nation would step in?
Iran is entitled under the NPT, which it signed, to pursue the research IT SAYS IT IS PURSUING. The IAEA is entitled to verify that Iran’s work is limited as to what is allowed. As the IAEA has repeatedly documented violations of the treaty it signed, and as some of the Iranian program has no economic justification, the UN says Iran should be subject to extra inspections. I do not understand why any true lover of peace should object. I do not understand why Iran should object if it has nothing to hide.
In the past, many posters to this blog have given Iran the “yes but Israel is a nuclear power and really immoral” exemption. A cursory examination of the treaty Iran signed does not mention such a clause. Many posters have also given Iran the “it doesn’t really matter if Iran gets the bomb” exemption, too. Maybe. That’s a matter of opinion. But again, this exemption also does not appear in the treaty Iran signed. I’m a big believer in international law … one of many reasons (others are moral) I generally oppose Israeli policy. But the law is the law. The USA likes selective enforcement, too. I don’t. Chaos will follow any selective enforcement — and it has. Why you condone this is beyond me.
Khatami was a wise leader. Bush was not. Neither is in power. Khatami’s supporters in general are barred from running for office. Bush’s probably should be, but that’s not the way democracy is supposed to work, is it?
“As the IAEA has repeatedly documented violations of the treaty it signed, and as some of the Iranian program has no economic justification, the UN says Iran should be subject to extra inspections.”
What a complete bunch of garbage. The IAEA ‘repeatedly’ documents that they cannot verify that Iran’s program is entirely peaceful (proving a negative is impossible which makes this part of the reports particularly redundant and ludicrous), whilst always confirming that there has NEVER been any diversion of nuclear material to a possible military program. The documented ‘violations’ you mention are also apparently not as clear-cut as you claim, since it’s not exactly obvious to all what Iran is doing wrong. If you were to actually read the NPT, you would know that Iran has the right to enrich uranium to 100% purity if it so wishes, as long as it doesn’t strap any of it on the end of a missile. There is nothing in the NPT that states you need to provide ‘economic justification’ for a nuclear program, nor open up your non-nuclear military sites to foreign inspectors, or even provide information on the locations of your future nuclear sites unless they are active (a repeated lie regarding Fordow which was correctly declared 180 days before activity was to commence). If you want the energy, you can have it regardless of how much natural resources you possess, or how much need you can demonstrate. Now in stark contrast to what you state in your comment, the NPT dictates in no uncertain terms that the weaponised signatory states are obliged to share the technology for and support the peaceful programs of ALL other NPT members, which in very simple terms puts the P5+1 in full violation of their NPT obligations, something no-one seems to document at all… Much like the US and Israel’s constant violation of the UN charter every time they threaten the use of force on Iran, which again, no-one could care less about…
If you were at all familiar with the guidelines under which the IAEA is empowered to verify NPT compliance, you would also know they don’t have the mandate to make the demands they make on Iran. The very obvious example, the repeated demands for access to Parchin, being one of many where the agency is acting beyond its own scope (nevermind the fact that it was already inspected twice in 2005, with nothing to report). Why would any member state comply with ridiculous demands that have no basis?
Possibly though, the hypocrisy of your comment needs to be related to Iran never being presented any of the supposed evidence that is held against it, and never being allowed to defend itself against its accusers. How can you possibly reconcile that process with your beliefs of non-selective application of the law?? But your statement that you do not understand why Iran should object to additional inspections if it had nothing to hide, whilst being under the most draconian inspection regime the IAEA has ever imposed in its entire history, goes to show you might not really know what you’re talking about here…
Nice try at rewriting history. I’ve worked for iaea.
I have documented everything I said in this post, in earlier posts on this site. You have documented nothing. You just repeat Iranian propaganda. Do you really believe the security Council, including Russia and china, invoked the additional inspection protocols allowed under NPT on a whim? And I am speaking as one who cuts Iran a lot of slack. Of course Iran at some point had a nuclear weapons program – – Iraq had one. Do they still? Why not negotiate inspection to settle the matter?
Dag Kar says
And as for my second question?
Obama is going to Israel to explain why the US is gonna normalize relations with Iran.
Obama’s puppetmasters are bankers,and bankers want money and control.
The Likud-Neocon strategy of Leon Strauss’ Chaos theory is failing in the Middle East.
Russia,China,Iran and Egypt are slowly pushing the US/NATO out of the region.
Israel will have to swallow it ,or choke on it.
By the way ,these Bankers have no trouble sacrificing a few million Jews ,like they showed in ww2.
Looks like the only option left for the Bankers is to push Israel into the Samson option.
Syria is the key,All key players in the region are trying to defuse it,US and NATO keep pushing.
Biological or Chemical fals flag will set the region on fire.
RE: A new Gallup poll of Iranians presents what the Washington Post euphemistically calls “worrying” signs that the western sanctions are having precisely the opposite effect that Obama expected. They’re driving rank and file Iranians into the arms of the regime and causing them to blame not their leaders, but the west. ~ R.S.
NOTE: “US Pulls Plug on Iran Cable”, By Lauren McCauley, Common Dreams, 2/09/13
‘A flagrant violation of freedom of speech’
ENTIRE ARTICLE – http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/02/09-2
Actually sanctions help not hurt, to succeeded one must grow, to grow one must endure pain. No pain no gain as my workout instructor use to say.
The sanctions provide the pain and Iran gains. In my recent trip Tehran, I went around my hotel room, to looks and various thing placed there and to see what all was made in China, to my utter surprise, without exception every thing from the light bulb to the refrigerator was made in Iran. The Iranian love to read, to the extent that a taxi driver many of them women, read books not newspapers while they wait to he hired.
The Iranian, nuclear ambition is more that a quest for making a bomb, it is a quest for recognition as a nation and a regional power.
The western policy has been tangled in its own ego. So far what ever has been done against Iran has only helped, No pain no gain
@EditorSteve: There are a few simple irrefutable facts:
1) Iran has never been presented by the IAEA the evidence that alleges/proves a military dimension to its program. Never.
2) The IAEA can not demand that Iran open up non-nuclear related sites to inspections. It is beyond its mandate, and Iran does not need to allow them.
3) The existence of the Fordow site was declared within the regulatory framework, according to the IAEA’s own rules.
4) The NPT allows member to enrich to weapons grade purity if they so feel like it, as long as the program is monitered by and under IAEA safeguards. Unless you want to argue that Japan, Germany, Brazil and the Netherlands are also ALL in breach of their NPT obligations.
5) No other country has ever been under an inspection regime as tough as the one imposed on Iran.
6) The NAM has on several occasions expressed deep concern that under the Amano regime the IAEA is moving away from its mandate as a scientific agency, to one that peddles fantasies in the interests of a select few.
So I get that your ex-employers weren’t/aren’t that hot anymore on factual evidence, but you’ll have to do a lot better than ‘i worked for them’…
Iranian propaganda? With that measure you probably think the NPT itself is Iranian propaganda. Sticking to the document by the letter, the UNSC resolutions demanding that Iran stop its nuclear enrichment have zero basis:
1. Nothing in this Treaty shall be interpreted as affecting the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination and in conformity with Articles I and II of this Treaty.
2. All the Parties to the Treaty undertake to facilitate, and have the right to participate in, the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials and scientific and technological information for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Parties to the Treaty in a position to do so shall also co-operate in contributing alone or together with other States or international organizations to the further development of the applications of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, especially in the territories of non-nuclear-weapon States Party to the Treaty, with due consideration for the needs of the developing areas of the world.
UNLESS, they can prove there is a military program, which would in turn qualify it for being in breach of article 2, and consequently warrant it being denounced to the UNSC.
It is and will always be impossible for Iran themselves to prove that there is NO military dimension to their nuclear program… No coherent court of law anywhere in the world demands an accused to prove that he is NOT something without due process, because that would simply be ludicrous. The accepted process involves the prosecution to provide evidence, followed by a concrete accusation, followed by an opportunity for the accused to defend himself. A judge or jury then decides a verdict, not before. Where in any of this Iran debacle has any of this process been respected?
All of this funnily comes back to exactly the same reason why the EU high court is ruling in favour of Iranian banks by declaring the unilateral sanctions as illegal: “The Council (of EU governments) is in breach of the obligation to state reasons and the obligation to disclose to the applicant … the evidence adduced against it.” (http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/02/06/eu-iran-sanctions-idUSL5N0B6FT620130206)
The path of least resistance would lead to the conclusion that there isn’t any concrete evidence available, which is probably why Obama, Barack and a long list of American and Israeli military personnel are on record stating ‘there is no nuclear weapons program in Iran.’ How exactly is a neutral onlooker supposed to take any of this seriously when the prosecution can’t even make up their minds?
Selective quoting of several passages of a complex treaty does not an argument make.
To be clear, you are saying that the UN Security Council, INCLUDING Russia and China, made an argument of whole cloth in invoking the NPT-permitted additional inspection protocols, and that literally hundreds of well documented treaty violations (which, incidentally, I have argued in the past have been for the most part inconsequential but were designed to “wear down” IAEA staff). You are also implying that overproduction of 20% enriched uranium by a country that has better uses for its scarce finances, developing and public testing of an IRBM system that has little strategic purpose unless it can carry a nuclear warhead, and refusal to abide by a UN consensus for inspection is not suspicious in any way.
This is like arguing with a child. Other child-like minds among the readers of this blog may believe the argument. People of normal intelligence and good will should not. I will waste no more time responding to your vacuous propaganda.
Dude, you’re beginning to waffle.. as if you weren’t waffling already.
Iran is a sovereign nation and only they themsleves can ‘permit additonal inspection protocols’. The NPT is an agreement, not a ‘handing over your soul to scummy westerners’, as you seem to think it is. Also, Iran has never signed up to having Russia, China, Mongolia or whoever for that matter to ‘invoke additional NPT-permitted additional inspection protocols’. You’re assertions are utter fabrications.
For sure you’ve never worked for the IAEA. You sound like one of those paid trolls who prance all over the internet spewing nonsense hoping no one will notice.