The Problem With Sanctions

Some great discussions about Iran online these days. FP’s ‘The Argument’ discusses why sanctions won’t work regarding Iran’s nuclear program:

A new report, whose authors include senior Obama advisors Dennis Ross and Gary Samore, recommends a range of new sanctions to deter Iran’s nuclear program. Last week, France, Germany, and Britain drew up a list of Iranian targets for new sanctions, seemingly designed to give Obama a “big stick” to wield as he moves into negotiations.

It’s a stick Obama should think twice about using. Economic sanctions not only typically fail to induce authoritarian regimes to change their policies, but they are also counterproductive tools that deteriorate human rights conditions in the sanctioned countries. The Obama administration would be more likely to accomplish its goals for Iran and other regimes by lifting sanctions and seeking an alternative, noncoercive policy as part of a greater strategy of engagement.

I agree that sanctions will only cause the regime to reel back in a protectionist reaction. A regime which has a fundamental anti-foreign intervention complex will only increase their rhetoric against the US and take a tougher stance against any possible rapprochement. (The fact that Dennis Ross recommends these things won’t help Iran acquiesce towards the administrations way of thinking either)

Crowd on 22 Bahman (10 Feb) in Azadi Square, Tehran on anniversary of the Revolution

Crowd on 22 Bahman (10 Feb) in Azadi Square, Tehran on 30 Year Anniversary of the Revolution

This regime spouts technological and military advances stemming from the Revolution’s ideology. Whether the citizenry believes it or not is a different story (probably not while they’re all facing economic hardship). But it shows how resilient the ideology of the Islamic Republic is. As Khomeini famously said, (I’m paraphrasing) ‘the Revolution was not undertaken so that the Persian melon would be cheaper’, it was taken to shrug off the yolk of an “unjust” (as in against Shi’ite concept of ‘justice’) regime and the foreign intervention that propped it up.

The nuance with a regime like this is the teleological millenarianism it feels it has proven after 30 years in power outside of the technological advances of the West. Sanctions will not undermine this fact.


~ by The Common Man on March 5, 2009.

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