Iran sanctions and wishful thinking

May 7, 2009

Bernd Debusmann - Great Debate
– Bernd Debusmann is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

So what’s so difficult in getting Iran to drop its nuclear program? All it needs is a great American leader who uses sanctions to break the Iranian economy so badly that popular discontent sweeps away the leadership. It is replaced without a shot being fired.

That simplistic solution to one of the most complex problems of the Middle East was part of a keynote speech greeted with thunderous applause by 6,000 delegates to the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). The speaker: Newt Gingrich, a former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and a likely Republican presidential candidate in 2012.

In the fourth month of the administration of President Barack Obama, who favors talking to America’s adversaries rather than ousting them, the Gingrich prescription sounded like a throwback to the days when neo-conservatives predicted that the U.S. troops invading Iraq would be pelted with flowers and sweets. Wishful thinking at its finest.

But in panel discussions and forums at AIPAC, one of the most powerful lobby groups in the United States, the idea of sharply tightened sanctions had plenty of proponents. The preferred lever: cutting off gasoline supplies to Iran, which relies on imports for around 40% of its domestic consumption.

On the final day of the conference this week, several thousand AIPAC activists converged on Congress to press their representatives for passage of pending legislation to sanction companies that sell, ship, finance or insure gasoline exports to Iran. Firms that continued dealing with Iran would be banned from doing business with the U.S.

Would an additional layer to a stack of sanctions imposed since 1995 get the Iranians to drop what the West insists is work toward a nuclear bomb? There is no reason to believe it would. There is every reason to believe more sanctions would inflict hardship on the Iranian people.

“With all the economic pain sanctions have imposed on the Iranian economy, there has not been a single instance in which that pain has translated into a desirable change in the Iranian government’s policies,” Trita Parsi, the president of the Washington-based National Iranian American Council, told a congressional hearing last month. “The Iranian people have suffered the brunt of the economic pressures.”


That tends to be the case with most sanctions that seek to change a government’s behavior or its ouster. A case in point closer to Washington than Tehran — Cuba. Almost five decades of U.S. economic sanctions have failed to bring down Fidel Castro or the brother who succeeded him.

Iran introduced gasoline rationing in June, 2007, a move that sparked riots in Tehran, with angry citizens setting ablaze gasoline stations. It was one of the most visible demonstrations of anger against the Iranian government since President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad took office in 2005.

But by and large, say Trita and other Iran experts, a good deal of the people’s anger over economic duress is directed against the United States, more so because the nuclear program has become a matter of national pride. It enjoys such broad public support that no politician running for office would risk advocating its termination.

So it would be naïve to expect public Iranian concessions on the nuclear front before the June 12 presidential elections. Registration for candidates opened this week and Ahmedinejad is expected to run for another four-year term. His most serious challenger to have announced his candidacy so far is a moderate, Mirhossein Mousavi, who was prime minister during the Iran-Iraq war from 1980 to 1988.

When he campaigned for the presidency and announced he was prepared to open a dialogue with Iran, Barack Obama said he would do so without “self-defeating preconditions.” But he also spoke in favor of sanctions, including the idea of throttling gasoline supplies. Overall strategy is still a work in progress.

As far as “self-defeating preconditions” go, setting an August deadline for Iran to curb its nuclear program, as did Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman this week, must surely rank at the top of the list. It’s an either-or proposition which makes a mockery of the word diplomacy.

It remains to be seen whether Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insists on that timeline when he meets Obama in Washington on May 18. So far, they don’t seem to be of one mind on Iran, an absolute priority for Netanyahu, part of intertwined Middle East problems (including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict) for Obama and his team.

Robert Satloff, head of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a pro-Israeli think tank, put it in stark terms at an AIPAC panel discussion when speakers were asked to predict the state of U.S.-Israeli relations in a year’s time: “I fear that if we and the Israelis are not totally on the same page from A to Z on this issue…next year we may be dealing with the most serious face-to-face disagreement in the 61 years of this relationship.”

Next year, if not before.


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The stage is set.

Iran can choose to comply with the request to stop it’s nuclear industry, or it will pick a very dark future.

The UN council is nothing except a massive diplomatic blocking device. It seeks to stop war at any cost. Even if that cost is genocide, nuclear proliferation, or the annexation of parts of Georgia.

If the security council’s actions allow Iran to get a nuke, we will be in for very uncertain times.

Because it will prove that diplomacy does not work, and that unilateral action by the West is the only way to ensure a nation’s compliance with UN demands.

Obama’s only real desire is that this hopefully doesn’t happen in his first term. Because if it does, it means war with Iran.

Posted by John Smith | Report as abusive

Simplistic solutions? Bernd is absolutely correct. We can talk until out jaws fall off and nothing will change. With state control of media in Iran, and indoctrination since birth, the presumption of rationality and assessment of freely available fact is pure fantasy on our part. like Saddam, the only fact and rationality they understand is force. Further, it may take a generation or two afterward to dispel the mindset so deeply ingrained in these peoples by the collaborating grip of state and religion. This is a far more complex matter than the simplistic solutions currently being floated.

Posted by coltrain | Report as abusive

Funny, this administration never seems to engage in “wishful thinking” well at least not according to the sycophantic media. Why don’t we just cut out all this nastiness and hand the Iranians a nuclear weapon? It’s laughable that people think sanctions don’t work, the fact is the sanctions aren’t really enforced by many nations and that repressive regimes always spin them as caused by the outside. Oh well, we’ll soon see what a nuclear armed theocracy run by a cabal of reactionaries is like. Should make the mid east even more fun soon.

Posted by Edward M. Blake | Report as abusive

if Obama is serious about moving MidEast poliices towards any realistic solution, he has to pull Israel out of its nuclear closet first. the time of good old double standards is over.

Posted by Sergey | Report as abusive

It seems difficult for people to comprehend but it’s very likely that Iran will get the bomb. It doesn’t mean the end of the world, it does mean a geopolitical shakeup. Iran is not a mad country willing to annihilate itself, it is a rational player on the global stage and wants what many other countries want, power, influence and status.

The question is how all the players in the Middle East come to terms with this. You can bomb Iran now but it will only strive harder to get the bomb, not to mention solidify national support for the program in Iran whereby the conservatives will get an even stronger grip on the country. Not to mention the consequences to the rest of the world should Israel launch an attack.

Meanwhile, Israel continues to build illegal settlements, carve up the West Bank so no viable Palestinian state is possible. Israel wants the world to believe the two are not related, yet it points fingers at Iran when it comes to Hamas (rightfully). Correction, Israel sees what it sees and wants what it wants.

Having a double standard on nuclear weapons also isn’t cutting it these days. It’s not a unipolar world where one can apply the, “do as i say, not as i do” foreign policy anymore.

If Israel wants peace, it also has to join the international community and withdraw to the’67 borders, dismantle the settlements, tear down the horrific apartheid like wall and work towards giving Palestinians a viable state. Israel is in as much danger as Iran is into giving into the ultra-right wing, religious conservatives.

Posted by Alan T. | Report as abusive

State control of media and indoctrination since birth? Wow, they sound exactly like the USA!
How about leaving Iran alone? Why shouldn’t Iran have a nuclear program, since Israel is nuclear-armed? Why not tell Israel that a price for persuading Iran to give up its nuclear program is for Israel to give up all its nuclear arms and stop making more?

Posted by Roy Fischer | Report as abusive

Like Saddam? Here we go. AIPAC and supporters of Israel seem to have complete tunnel vision and keep trying to sell these apocalyptic visions of the world coming to an end.

Look where Iraq is now. Does Israel care that Iraq turned into a mess? Thousands of civilians dead, thousands of troops dead? Not really, they simply wanted Saddam gone at any cost. The rest of the world, especially the United States meanwhile is paying for the Iraq war.

It’s the same mentality towards Iran, regardless of the consequences to the region and to the world at large, Israel seems not to care so long as it gets what it wants.

Speaking of talking until our jaws fall off, what of the Palestinian issue and the continued illegal building of settlements, the land grabs? The world has continuously denounced these actions yet Israel continuously ignores the rest of the world.

Collaborating grip of state and religion? Are we talking about Israel because it surely applies to Israel as well. Let’s not kid ourselves here.

Yes, the issue is far more complex yet Israel wants to paint a simple apocalyptic vision to the rest of the world in order to further its interests. Fear mongering isn’t going to work.

Posted by Alan T. | Report as abusive

The closest anyone has come to progress on the Iranian nuclear programme appears to have been the Russians’ straightforward insistence that Iran pay her bills on time, or else work stops. It ought not to be beyond the wit of man (oh all right, it’s probably beyond the wit of policy makers!), to craft an approach to enrichment along similar lines.

Posted by Ian Kemmish | Report as abusive

Bernd avoids the tough bit, so what is a reasonable, not so wishful approach to Iran?

Talk seems to do no good.
UN do nothing but talk. So they do just that, no good.
Security Council has repeatedly proven their impotence.

Shall we sit back and wait for the disaster to happen or end the program for them?

I’m not suggesting any easy solutions, just curios if there are any.

Posted by KM | Report as abusive

What is not discussed in “polite circles” is O-I-L. Mess about to much with Iran, they and perhaps a few others turn down or off, the oil…and?????
There is also that little outfit called “China/Russia buds of Iran Inc” that just might get involved.. as they are business pard’s.
We have NO other option but to go diplomatic and hope for the best. We can only hope some fools somewhere do not start shooting up Iran and push us into “them or us” corner.
Sorry for all the “USA tells the world what to do as we lead it” ego’s our there….those days are gone. USA has enough to just try and graciously get out of Iraq and AFG, just might end up another NAM, sans draft of cours as one thing in USA to wave that little imported flag, quite another to serve it in combat for 99.9% of our patriotic citizens.
Whole new world coming, even Fiat, not exactly a big player in USA, now is buying our major firms. Citizens get used to having gone by the “tipping point”.. GWB “tipped USA” and it may have been enough to start us on a decline AKA England…lot’s of talk and that’s about it. The Mid East is no longer playground for USA messing about…

Posted by chuck | Report as abusive

The world wants to see a middle east and a world without nukes and this must include Israel anything short of this would be wishfull thinking and delusional, what is good for the Goose must surely be good for the gander. Iran does not need anyone’s permision to advance itself.

Posted by Gabriel | Report as abusive

It has always seemed a great irony to me that the only nation to have ever used nuclear weapons against a civilian population is at the forefront of insuring that their enemies remain at that disadvantage.

Posted by perry wynn | Report as abusive

I find it hard to believe that intelligent people are advocating more sanctions that clearly do not work. It’s not that not enough sanctions have been tried, it’s that too many have been tried, and have failed, for the threat to have any credibility.
Look at Iraq: much harsher sanctions against a much smaller and much more isolated country failed entirely. They starved the Iraqi people, sure. But did that help the US fulfil any strategic objectives? No. They had to go in and fight it out. And even then they didn’t do so well, did they?
And Iraq didn’t have any levers that it could pull to make America’s life much harder. Unlike Iraq, Iran has massive and critical influence in each of Syria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan. It can credibly threaten Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the GCC and Israel, all American allies. So why would a weapon that failed even against a weak opponent succeed against a much stronger foe? Why would sanctions that failed against a much weaker Iraq and a much weaker North Korea work against Iran? What makes this time so different?

Posted by Firas | Report as abusive

I’m all for a nuclear-free Middle East.

That’s why a nuclear-free Israel — it’s the only nuclear-armed state in the region — is the key first step.

Israel has surreptitiously built dozens — if not hundreds — of nuclear weapons since the 1960s, at one time with the help of the rogue apartheid regime then in power in South Africa.

Let’s have sanctions against Israel until it gives up its nuclear arsenal. At this time, any Iranian nuclear arsenal is merely theoretical. Israel’s atom arsenal is a fact.

Posted by Manny Paltiel | Report as abusive

So, yet another sanction proposal towards a country they don’t like by the AIPAC and pro-Israeli ideologues. Running around the world with their 2×4 to hit whomever they don’t like. (Or 2×2 to hit whomever they like!) For decades, these guys controlled America foreign policy, and wrecked America reputation.

Why do the AIPAC guys have so much hatred, and so scared of Iran nuclear program? Iran, a country so backward they still struggle to produce a nanogram of bomb material after more than a decade of trying. What’s their chance of actually making a tiny little bomb, not to mention deploying it as a weapon? For this the APIAC goes huff and puff looking for yet another war. On a country on the other side of the world. In their twisted minds America still runs the world like the good old days.

Why? Because they are actually citizens of Israel on a biblical crusade. They are not swayed by mere facts, rationality, sense. Trouble is, this time around there is no GW Bush, the fundamentalist idiot, to be kicked around as their toy.

Posted by The Real Deal | Report as abusive

Sanctions don’t work period. Never did, never will. They did nothing to remove Castro from power in Cuba, and Cuba doesn’t even have oil. There always will be somebody willing to buy oil from Iran, and somebody willing to sell to Iran just about anything for the right price.
Neither work negotiations. The whole run-up to WWII was about the French and the Brits reluctantly negotiating with Stalin about mutual defense, the French and the Brits negotiating their separate peace with Hitler, Molotov negotiating carving-up of Europe with Ribbentrop (closely watched over their shoulders by Stalin and Hitler, respectively), and small fries negotiating whatever and with whomever they could. We all know the results of those negotiations.
If somebody doesn’t here’s the brief summary. The first ended nowhere. The next 2 resulted in pacts that Hitler tore apart when he thought the time was right. And the small fries were trampled over without regard to any negotiations that ever took place.
Neither work international treaties and international law. See above the example of how these worked with Hitler. Ahmadinejad is no better than Hitler, just less empowered. Germany was a major power, Iran is just a small fry (but with ambitions to grow into a major power). NPT is not worth the paper it was written on. Iran is a signatory to it, as well as Iraq is and N. Korea was until recently. It didn’t prevent Kim from actually making the bomb, nor it does anything to stop Iran. NPT regime didn’t prevent India and Pakistan from becoming nuclear club members (though neither signed it). And for Saddam not joining the club the world must thank IAF (Israeli Air Force) bombing the crap out of Osiraq, not NPT. Same thing with Syria, another NPT signatory secretly building a reactor with N. Korean assistance, and another successful IAF raid demolishing it.
Any treaty is worth something only when it can be realistically enforced. And the best ways of enforcement are either mutual interest, or use of force (or a credible threat thereof). There’s no mutual interest between USA and Iran, at least not one Iran would value above the nukes. And the use of force doesn’t seem to be on the table. In that respect, Obama is no Reagan, not even Bush (Sr. or Jr. – both fought wars when they saw fit).
The best way to deal with Iran would be a regime change. No, not democracy building – that was Bush’s miserable failure after the war with Iraq was brilliantly won (in terms of conventional armed conflict between states). There must be a son of late Shah (or a nephew, or somebody remotely related to the house of Pahlavi) who would gladly accept the scepter and build the state according to local traditions (of which democracy is a very small, if any, part, and brutality is a large part). But that seems to be too improbable for as long as Obama occupies the White House.
Nuclear Iran is the worst nightmare for the West since the days of Cold War, if not WWII. Not only Israel, most of Europe is within the range of Iranian missiles. While Israel has a half-backed Arrow anti-missile system theoretically capable of intercepting the ballistic nuclear warheads, Europe has no defense at all. Besides, Iran controls most of oil used by EU, and closure of shipping routes will trigger a total paralysis of Europe energy and transport systems.
Looks like Europe is impotent to act on its own, and with Obama not inclined to use, or even threaten the use of force, the only real hope for the West is IAF.

Posted by Anonymous | Report as abusive

The reason that sanctions don’t work in the Middle East is, like we found with Iraq there is so much money there; businesses and member nations are under great temptation not to honor the sanctions.
It is apparent that the United States is the only country that sees UN resolutions as having any meaning and the only country that tries to enforce sanctions.
Until other nations start to enforce sanctions instead of taking advantage of the increased prices and continuing to do business with sanctioned nations the sanctions will never work.

Posted by Craig Coal | Report as abusive

Hopefully I’ll live long enough to see my country (U.S.) not wasting my tax donations and all of our time in trying to be the world’s hall monitor.

I wish we were as motivated in our nuclear program as Iran is, then maybe we could all afford our energy bills.

Posted by Michael Ham | Report as abusive

Sanctions won’t work. Iran is building a new pipeline to India, China and Pakistan. They will have the money to continue.
Now let’s stop looking at this through Oil colored glasses. If you were in charge of Iran and you watched the US invade and take over Iraq Oil fields and listened to the crap coming out of the Bush Administration about Syria, and Korea and saw how the world treats countries with nukes (Korea vs Iraq) wouldn’t you be trying to build a nuke to protect your sovereignty? The only reason this is even an issue is Oil. No one seems to care that Brazil claims to have enriching techniques and equipment that surpass the US. So why are the countries in this tiny region so different? Iran, like Syria and pre invasion Iraq do not do business with the big oil companies like Exxon, or BP. These oil companies want access to their oil in the worst way.

The American People do not have any reason to care if Iran gets a nuke or not. Except that fear mongers have scared you into thinking that if Iran gets a nuke the next thing you know your city will be engulfed in a mushroom cloud.

Now if Iran wanted weapons grade bomb material they could get it without building reactors. But they do not want to build just a few bombs. They want to make sure that Israel will not attack them again, that the US and their oil mercenaries will not invade and take their oil and gas. And, of course those in power hate to be deposed. Ask the Bank CEOs.

As long as oil is profitable there will be those that want what they do not have and wars will be waged for fun and profit. If you want the Middle East to become nothing more than a shrug of the shoulder again you have to crash the price of oil well below $30 a barrel. The US would have to actually start pumping all that oil we have and really start converting our transportation industry off of Oil. This will not happen until the Auto Industry stops playing around with hybrids and starts looking into alternative transportation motivation. Batteries are too heavy and costly but the current Auto Industry seems to want to continue down that road at the consumer’s detriment and the oil company’s delight. Of course I do not see this administration nudging them in any other direction.

So will Iran get a nuke? No time soon. Israel will preemptively strike. The oil companies who do not want their oil glowing green will force the US and GB with their allies into action and the oil wars will continue. Or will the people finally say enough is enough and force congress to put a stop to it. This current economic situation may be just what the Oil Wars needed, lots of young people graduating and out of work ripe for the recruiter’s pitch.

Posted by B.Free | Report as abusive

Hello Bernd,

Sanctions don’t work? It really depends on what do you expect from sanctions.
If you expect regime change – sanctions failed and will never work.

I hope we agree on main point: Iran influence is not positive.

I see sanctions somewhat working by reducing Iran influence.

1. They cripple Iran development;
2. They denying Iran military advances;
3. They reducing Iran ability to bank roll many US adversaries Iraq insurgence/HEZBOLLAH/HAMAS/Afghanistan pro-Iran mujaheddins etc.

Iran is big and potentially very rich country.

1. Sanctions Iran prevent from refine own oil that cost Iran a lot.
2. Iran infrastructure falls apart, roads, electrical grid, aircrafts etc.
(Russia/China also don’t jump to propel this country to XXI century)

3. Iran pushes hard to develop own weapons. All types missiles/drones/nukes etc. Today Iran pays 3x times price for second hands Russian/China technology. But the biggest point Iran doesn’t have access to western precision machinery, precision tools and know-how.

I have to give Iran credit that despite sanctions she made big progress on weaponry, political influence and covered ops like HEZBALLH/Iraq/HAMAS.

But I have little doubts that without sanctions Iran will do exactly the same just on much much bigger scale.

I got impression that so feel the rest of the World.


Posted by SKV_USA | Report as abusive

Israel has been going through hoops to secretly buy oil from Iran while simultaneously claiming that Iran plans a nuclear Holocaust against Israel, not to mention lobbying heavily for sanctions against Iran until the Americans fight another war for them and ironically nuke the Iranians for the crime of allegedly thinking about possibly starting a program to potentially build something that could someday, in the far distant future, perhaps, be used to defend itself against Israel, while Israel sits on the only – and completely illegal- stockpile of nuclear weapons in the Middle East. As we all know, there are two kinds of International Law, the one that applies to Israel, and the one that applies to everybody else.

Posted by getplaning | Report as abusive

Well another thing that the new administration is not big on is what does work or what to do if talk fails. Then again no one in the media seems to want to follow up on these things. They say he has closed Gitmo, but as far as I know it’s still operating and there is no plan to actually close it, just good intentions and we all know where those lead.
Please oh enlightened folk who say sanctions don’t work, what does?

Posted by Edward M. Blake | Report as abusive

Please oh enlightened folk who say sanctions don’t work, what does?…” – Posted by Edward M. Blake


Brute force. Or a credible threat of using it.

Posted by Anonymous | Report as abusive

A refreshing insight from Getplaning. I’m glad to also see that Reuters has dared publish something that could easily be tagged as anti-semitic along with anything else that is even midly critical of Israel’s domestic and foreign policy

Its nice to see that their blatant hypocrisy catches some people’s attention.

There is nothing wrong with having powerful friends like the US and no one can blame them as they are a sheep surrounded by wolves in the Middle East. But to say that they are opportunistic would be a gross understatement.

Hopefully Obama can keep is cool and not be coerces into making any rash decisions due to pressure from the Jewish Lobby. Let it be known that I do understand the plight of Israel against certain aggresors, but I also see it how it is as a wider push to consolidate their holding over the region.

The great unspoken truth is that Israel have never had any intention of dealing honorably with the Palestinians, and this has become obvious to the likes of Iran. While Israel can point to a Palestinian threat, they can keep on stealing Palestinian land, and establishing ‘facts on the ground’. And this is funded directly and indirectly by America. Essentially, Israel is an undeclared state of America, kept afloat be the USA. So why should the Iranians believe a word of what Israel or America says, faced with such belligerent hypocrisy. So there is very little hope that Iran will voluntarily stop development of nuclear weapons. And if provoked they will use them. The problem has never been Iran, it has always been Israel.

Posted by steve | Report as abusive

Then again no one in the media seems to want to follow up on these things. They say he has closed Gitmo, but as far as I know it’s still operating and there is no plan to actually close it, just good intentions and we all know where those lead.

It seems pretty likely that no one in government believes sanctions will cause Iran to terminate their nuclear program. But that is not the same thing as saying that sanctions will not have any effect on Iran’s behavior. Any country subject to sanctions will experience what economists call effects at the margin; that is, some choices (perhaps not directly related to a program that is the target of the sanctions) will be made differently because of the sanctions. For example, if a country subject to sanctions is compelled to make certain transactions on the black market instead of on the open market, its costs will increase and its ability to undertake projects requiring such transactions will be limited. Over time, such limitations at the margin can be expected to have a substantial cumulative effect. The marginal effects of sanctions are unlikely themselves to cause Iran to terminate its nuclear development program; however, the marginal effects of sanctions may limit Iran’s options overall, including options with respect to the nuclear development program. And those limitations may impede Iran’s ability to conduct its nuclear development program. I would expect that this is the sort of thing that is in the minds of policy makers who advocate sanctions and that they do not expect Iran instantly to capitulate because of sanctions.

Posted by Bob | Report as abusive

When I first visited Iran some 18 months ago, I was struck by the love and respect that many of the Iranians I met had for America. I was surprised, too, how many of them spoke American English having studied in the states during the years of the last Shah of Iran. At the rise of the Islamic Revolution in 1979, many of them returned home to Iran. Most of those I spoke with said that
Israel was more likely to attack
their country first before America over the issue of a
possible nuclearised Shia state. Their anti-Israel feeling was palpable, while their feeling for America was more complex and more awe-inspiring to them, despite their ugly feeling specifically toward the then
Bush Administration. Sanctions have obviously hurt the Iranian people, but such has not stopped them from going about their daily business with a pride and defiance against such. As for President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, I heard hardly a word spoken about him, either for or against him, during my ten-day visit to Tehran and elsewhere in Persia. One would almost think he didn’t exist! Whatever, my own personal feeling is that both Israel and the United States suffer from what I call “Iranophobia” that instills their reactions and views on Iran beyond the point of trying to engage the Iranians in some kind of positive intercourse rather than with more sanctions and threats. Perhaps Barack Obama is the key to such a future and positive dialogue
with Tehran? Although, Israel’s new Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will not give way to Washington no matter what Obama may do or say other than perhaps getting the US to back any future military retaliation
against Iran. Such would be absolutely fatal to all concerned and would leave the Middle East in a greater political mess than it already is. Worse still, it would put Iran on a out and out war footing against all things to do with Israel and the world jewry. In the end, the Shia Nation would feel forced to then become a nuclear state one day out of the war ashes inflicted upon it by Israel and/or the United States. Without dialogue, only death awaits. Truly, Alex Albion. London, UK.

All the AIPAC members should be expelled to their promised land and live America and American tax payers alone. They have no loyalty to America and they are an agent of Israel. America should stop supporting Israel in return for friendship of more than billions of world populations across the globe. Israel is a danger to world peace and stability and must be denuclearized before it commits an stupid act.

Posted by Jack | Report as abusive

CIA’s own Dennis Blair testified to the Senate Foreign Affairs Cttee in Feb 09 that Iran does not have a nuclear weapons programme and has not made the political decision to have one, so the fear-mongering that grips America and Europe must have other reasons. Is it to appease some single-issue lobby groups? What will AIPAC and Anti-Defamation League talk about if the Iranian ‘threat’ did not exist? Like all organisations they need a reason for existing, shame their reasons are malignant AND bad for US interests. It is time they were shunned by the US body politik.

Posted by Raad | Report as abusive

Isn’t the best solution for all nations, including Israel, to destroy their nuclear arsenals.

Otherwise it will always be a case of what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

Posted by Mr. McTague | Report as abusive

Your very thought proving article is saying past and present US govts. have allowed the pro-Israeli lobby to make decisions and present them as US policy.
What the current administration, congress and senate have to decide if this is to continue. If so, are the people of the USA prepared to pay whatever price comes from these decisions, especially in the light of the current world situation when various power balances among nations regarding their influence, finance and economics are altering rapidly.

Posted by Varo Dharmarajah | Report as abusive

The notion of disarmament and leaving Iran alone is straight our of fantasy books and ignores the ideas of Darwinian natural selection.

The world is faced with Islamofascism, a notion so dangerous that it must be destroyed in every shape and form.

Imagine if people in the late 30′s believed that Hitler needs to be left alone or that he needs to disarm (in fact people made the same claims).

The West has been under attack and it must flex its muscules and destroy any traces of Islamofascism as soon as possible.

Attaching moral equivalence to the cause of Israel/West and the savagery that exists in the middle east is extremely dangerous and trivializes the complex nature of the mess in the middle east. For peace to flourish in the middle east, Islam must secularize and nation states that embrace Islam must democratize and embrace capitalism. Israel is a country that embraces individulism (although it is very much socialistic).

Posted by Massud Ghaussy | Report as abusive

As always, the U.S. has to put aside what is best for the world when it comes to the Apartheid State of Israel. Iran always wanted to be democratic like the United States, but we squandered that chance by incubating a coup and putting back the Shah in the late 50′s. We paid the price in the 70′s and still till today. The only solution that is best for us is direct talks with Iran, if done correctly with the right pace, Iran can a great friend and ally in the M.E.

Posted by guest | Report as abusive

May 7th, 2009 12:45 pm GMT – Posted by Anonymous . .what a load of cr&a&p! Be scared, very scared is all you hawks have to say .. give it a rest already. I am more worried about China but I am sure you are more worried about profits!

Posted by flyingeagel | Report as abusive

National Geographic, October, 2002, clearly, and impartially, lays out the brazen Israeli policies to confiscate Palestinian property, deny them the opportunity to earn a living and create a ring of settlements that would make it impossible for any future Israeli administration to share the territory. These were all tactics used as part of the Czarist pogroms.

Israel is a big disappointment compared to its promises during the 1950s pretty much the same as the United States is a big disappointment compared to the promises of the 1950s.

Let’s have the Iranians and Israelis sign the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty. Then let’s insist on a two-state solution, just as the U.N. originally proposed in 1948 when Israel was formed. Then let’s designate AIPAC as a terrorist organization. No doubt that’s how the Iranians and other Arab states see them. Kind of like, “Yo, kid, stop bullying the neighbors or you’re going to spend a lot of time in your room.”

Posted by jumper_SC | Report as abusive

Iranian president’s statements on Isreal being wiped out
are sufficient to proceed bombing of Iran

Posted by jjmk4546 | Report as abusive

I thought World War 2 proved that hesitation to react to a threat can cause a tiny spark to turn into a blaze the size of the continent.

Posted by Alex | Report as abusive

is there a proof that sanctions have worked in any country? Cuba?no. north korea? no. pre-invasion iraq? no. anyone else? seriously. this is utter non-sense. it will be interesting to see the impact that AIPAC has on this outcome, which most likely will go their way. all this while, 2 AIPAC lobbyists are having charges of spying on the united states for israel being dropped with no consequences. its a shame how pathethic our government officials have become.

Posted by sidney | Report as abusive

“Iranian president’s statements on Isreal being wiped out
are sufficient to proceed bombing of Iran”

May 7th, 2009 8:03 pm GMT – Posted by guest

A very ignorant comment. The President of Iran said no such thing. The statements of the Iranian President have been reflected by the western corporate media in a manipulated way. Iran’s President was describing the removal of the right wing regime that is in power in Israel. He never demanded the elimination or annihilation of Israel.

Posted by getplaning | Report as abusive

Whoops! Attributed ignorant post to “guest” when I should have attributed said ignorance to “jjmk4546!”


Posted by getplaning | Report as abusive

Iranian people are tired of the current dictator regime.
The only way to bring the peace to the Middle East is by helping Iranian people to take control of their government from the zealous Mullahs.
Having a democratic Iran is the only solution.
No one wants this regime to go, BLOOD MONEY
OIL, GAS, COPPER, WOMEN, all exported cheaply to enrich a MAFIA named Islamic republic of TERRORISTS.

Posted by Zal | Report as abusive

Imagine we are in the year 2045

Lets listen to a bit of news just coming in.

The United Usurpers of Fartland (UUF) which was set up by Chinese settlers in west Africa a few decades ago, has just announced that anything that moves in the world is considered to be a security threat to it and its interests. It defines its interests as what ever has value all over the world in the name of demohypocracy which it wants to impose upon the entire world. It has just threatened the USA that, it either does away, not only with its nukes but also has no right to have nuclear energy for civilian use, or else it will impose sanctions on it (and of course the military option is also on the table). The UUF which is the largest consumer of fatty acids, considers the large deposits of fatty acids found in the USA as its own and considers the possession of nukes by the USA as a real threat to its interests.

The UUF, to get at its ambitious plan of dominating the world, is constantly saber rattling and demonizing the USA as a real danger to humanity. It insists that in a demohypocracy, there is no room for any other ideology and everybody must succumb to their idea of a utopia “freely” or else they will be screwed!! zzz zch sorry we seem to be having trouble with the broadcast…

Well, one wonders how the people of the USA are feeling right now…

Posted by Bluebirdiran | Report as abusive

Iran shall prevail in it’s quest to go nuclear come what may, we have a new president Obama who believes in change and as a minority who i am sure has seen and experienced injustices/prejudice my guess is that he would do the right thing. A two state solution and a nuclear free Middle East with no exceptions.

Posted by Gabriel | Report as abusive

I agree. Choosing an illegal settler to represent Israel abroad does make a mockery of diplomacy. For Lieberman to trot around Europe lecturing officials on the ‘threat’ of Iran and its nuclear program is downright laughable. This squatter from the occupied West Bank is in no position to discuss Iran, peace, or nuclear weapons for that matter.

He wanted to bomb Gaza back to the stone age and he got his wish. It’s quite easy to bomb refugee camps. But if Lieberman and AIPAC want to turn Iran into another Gaza they’re in for quite a surprise.

Kudos to European diplomats for managing to keep a straight face during the meetings. I think policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic understand the real issue is not Iran, but Israel’s campaign to wipe Palestine off the map

Posted by Nu'man El-Bakri | Report as abusive

Well, still no answers from the sanctions don’t work cabal. I imagine they are mostly Europeans who think that talking is the answer to everything and are basically still of the mindset that appeasement works. They’re big on talk until it’s too late and we have to deal with their blunders. The laughable part is some people still cling to the thought that Iran isn’t on course for building nuclear weapons, if they at least were honest and said they wanted nukes to keep the mullahs from being dragged out of spider holes after regime change I’d at least have to respect that, but they still cling to the fiction of “civilian use”. It’s that kind of lie that insults my intelligence,it’s a direct slap in my face to think I’m so stupid I don’t know what you are really after. Of course there are some people that stupid, so I guess I also can’t blame them for that. To me the bigger fiction is that diplomacy works. Where has diplomacy worked with a radical theocratic despotic regime? Wanting to talk doesn’t make you weak, but it certainly makes you look weak to those who only understand force and thuggery, i.e. the Iranian gov’t.

Posted by Edward M. Blake | Report as abusive

am an american i am tired of seeing our flags burned and out military spread out all over the world, for the sake of “maintaing peace”. we have caused more problems then even the british and the french did during their era of “world conquest”. mr. blake foolishly made remarks about how diplomacy does not work. well let’s see, have our bominng campaigns worked in iraq, afghanistan, vietnam?? NO. how many dead soldiers who died for no reason. how many innocent civilians murderd for no reason. all this while we side with the “lover of demcracy and freedom” with european countries and the biggest culprit israel. I don’t recall seeing any latin american, african or middle easter countries being the causes for WW1, WW 2, or the holocaust. i don’t recall seeing the atomic weapons being created and used by the iranians or iraqis, or afghans. it is easy for people like mr. blake to make ridiculos comments like he does because he is in the safe and comfort of his home and he would relate american bombing campaigns to the video games he plays at home.

Posted by sidney | Report as abusive

What exactly does everyone think will happen if Iran gets a nuke? I think it is clear that Iran wants to protect itself. Why should Israel be the only nuclear power in the region? What balance it that? It is obvious that many countries do not feel the same way toward Iran as the fear mongers in the US do. India, China, and Pakistan have gone into business with Iran and when the US ambassador to India tried to stop the deal the India Prime Minister told him it was none of our business and that India didn’t see Iran’s quest for nuclear independence as a threat. The one thing we must continue to ask ourselves is why do the fear mongers in the US think we should be concerned with Iran when India and many other countries are not? Maybe it is because India only wants to buy their oil and unlike the US is not the mercenary of the big oil cartels. Personally, I think it would be better if the big oil cartels would just outfit their own military and stop using ours at taxpayer expense. The use of the US military as corporate mercenaries goes way beyond protecting the People and no where does the Constitution say the Federal Government is to protect an individual or corporation’s business ventures from socialist movements. It is one thing to protect our ships from pirates on the high seas. It is something totally different to invade a country in order to hand over the oil fields to big oil. It has been know since just before the last administration took power that Exxon, BP and Chevron needed access to Syrian, Iranian and Iraqi oil fields if they were to be able to take advantage of the growing economies in India and China. The last administration got caught with their pants down lying to the American people in order to persuade us to invade Iran. I hope we have learned our lesson. The tax payer was burdened with the costs of acquisition while the oil corporations reaped the profits. And, now they are trying to do it again with Iran’s Nuclear Program. A program the CIA has stated does not exist. But that is no deterrent to the fear mongers. Fear does not have to make sense. It just has to get the desired results.

Posted by B.Free | Report as abusive

Any realistic person can not or would not believe that without addressing Israeli nuclear issue, the world can not solve Iranian nuclear issue. AIPAC is trying to fool the world that the world can solve Iranian nuclear issue without addressing Israeli one. By the way, Iranian does not have dictatorial regime, in the Middle East we have few dictators offcourse, who are freequently get invitation from white house.

Posted by Elena Borisova | Report as abusive

So where has diplomacy worked? Is it working in North Korea? Is it working in Iran? Is it working in the Israeli Palestinian conflict? Please let me know where all the talk is working? Talk is cheap. You can make your ridiculous ivory tower arguments about right and wrong in the vacuum of the normative world, try and find a working example from the real world. All this talk of America’s time being over is funny, who exactly is running things now if not America? More cheap talk form the Europeans, who by the way we learned all we know about mistreating developing nations from and whos messes we are still cleaning up to this day, why don’t you do something other than talk? Yada yada, all your empty talk amounts to nothing. Don’t hate America because you no longer matter in the world scheme of things. Hate yourselves for your abdication of your responsibilities. It’s easy to have better health care and education when someone else is subsidizing your national defense. Can any European country even defend itself without calling on the hated Americans? The Europeans, always there when they need you.
Even your European style president isn’t going along with your sad hide under the covers and hope the monsters go away strategy of foreign policy.

Posted by Edward M. Blake | Report as abusive