Monday, May 01, 2006

Writing in today's Washington Post, Dennis Ross, Clinton's spectacularly ineffectual Middle East Coordinator, argues for a new strategy for dealing with Iran that turns out to be remarkably like the strategies his fellow ostriches have long espoused...

Note that when I write "ostriches", I am not claiming they have their heads in the sand and are blind to the underlying threat that Iran poses to the national security of this country but rather that they can not see that their policy prescriptions are worthless.

For Ross is stuck on using sanctions and international pressure to compel Iran to comply with our demands that they give up their nuclear ambitions. He says that we must work together with the British, French and German governments to "agree on an extensive set of meaningful - not marginal - economic and political sanctions" that "the Iranians would see as biting".

While this could work (note author rolling his eyes at this point), in reality, no sane person should spend more than five minutes walking down this road... for the simple reason that there exist no sanctions that the Western world is willing and able to impose on Iran that would make the Iranians back down.

What economic sanction is the West able and willing to impose that would make Iran back down? That we're going to stop buying their oil? To not allow them to export what precious little they export other than oil? To not let them import stuff from us?

What political sanction is the West able and willing to impose that would make Iran back down? That their athletes can't go to the Olympics? That we won't let their airlines have landing rights at our airports? That the United Nations will pass resolutions condemning their behavior?

Look, sanctions didn't work against Hussein... the West couldn't agree on a set of sanctions with bite... and the few sanctions that were imposed were blatently violated by companies from the very same countries that imposed those sanctions.

Why should we think any differently about the effectiveness of sanctions in this case?