Economic Warfare on Iran: Obama’s Savage Campaign Strategy

John Glaser, July 11, 2012

Mohammad Ali Shabani, based in Tehran, has written an important piece at al Jazeera on the effect of the US-led international sanctions on Iran. He opens by describing a man named Hassan who is suffering from cancer but cannot get the medicine needed to fight it. His family was “told that there was a shortage of many foreign drugs because of the sanctions, even though the West’s punitive measures don’t directly target supplies such as medicines.”

The sanctions are a form of overt coercion aimed at crippling Iran’s economy. Targeted most at the banking and oil sectors, Iranians are slipping into an economic depression. Unemployment is rising and inflation is spiraling out of control. “Prices of fruit and sugar, among other staples, have soared – in some cases showing threefold and fourfold increases,” writes Saeed Kamali Dehghan in the Guardian. “The price of meat, an essential ingredient of Iranian food, has gone up to such an extent that many now eat it only on special occasions.”

Listening to congressional supporters of sanctions, you’d think the sole reason is a sadistic urge to harm innocent Iranians. As one of the top supporters of sanctions, Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), said, “Critics [of the sanctions] argued that these measures will hurt the Iranian people.  Quite frankly, we need to do just that.” Or take Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY): “The goal … is to inflict crippling, unendurable economic pain over there. Iran’s banking sector — especially its central bank — needs to become the financial equivalent of Chernobyl: radioactive, dangerous and most of all, empty.”

As effective as these measures may be in harming ordinary Iranians and cutting the revenue of the Iranian regime, they are completely ineffective in changing the behavior or make-up of the regime (the interventionists’ stated goal).

“In Tehran, the dominant perception is that the aim of the sanctions is to create pressure from below so the leadership will back down on the nuclear issue,” writes Shabani. Well, they are pretty much correct. The Washington Post published an article in January quoting a top US official as saying the purpose of the sanctions was to “create hate and discontent at the street level so that the Iranian leaders realize that they need to change their ways.”

But it doesn’t work out that way in practice. Political scientist Robert Pape examined 115 cases of economic sanctions over almost 80 years and found only five that could be considered successful (that is, the sanctioned nation changed policy in the direction desired by the sanctioners). That is a horrible track record.

“The Iranian government is unlikely to buckle due to Western pressure. And it is even less likely to back down in the face of domestic pressure,” writes Shabani. “Iranian politicians’ ability to successfully deflect blame for their shortcomings at the West should not be underestimated.” And Dehghan too: “Of course, supporters of sanctions might argue that some suffering now would be justified if it stops what they assume is the threat of a nuclear Iran. What they don’t realise is that sanctions are ruining people’s lives and not forcing Iranian leaders to change their minds.”

And forget about fomenting revolution. Imperialists in Washington have criticized Obama for not having got behind the 2009 Green Movement uprising in Iran, arguing that movement is our chance to support regime change. But Dehghan says the sanctions are sapping the energy of the Green Movement and helping to block its access to technology. Shabani cites a Gallup poll carried out earlier this year which showed that almost half of Iranians at times during the past year didn’t have enough money to buy food for their families and that Iranians said “Western leaders need to monitor the unintended effects sanctions may have on Iranians’ lives.”

Iranians blame the West for their economic woes. Not the regime.

The Obama administration knows full well how ineffective sanctions are. They are doing it anyways, largely for domestic political consumption, to satisfy pressures from Israel, AIPAC, and Congress and avoid Obama being painted as a wussy. This is an election year, after all. This translates literally to Obama making ordinary Iranians suffer so that the can get reelected. That’s just about the most savage thing a political leader can do.




35 Responses to “Economic Warfare on Iran: Obama’s Savage Campaign Strategy”

  1. Iranian regime is eager and wiling to sacrify all Iranians, all in middle east and to destroy the whole world. They know in case they fall that would be the end of Islam and people will hang them from lamp posts. I am sorry but there is no nice way of dealing whth this regime rather than the way Japan was dealt with.

  2. [...] http://antiwar.com/blog/2012/07/11/economic-warfare-on-iran-obamas-savage-campaign-strategy/ Share this:PrintStumbleUponEmailRedditDiggLinkedInFacebookTwitterPinterestTumblrLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. [...]

  3. If not sanctions then how would the author propose Iran's nuclear plan be stopped? Would a war be a better option? Or should the world wait until Iran fulfills their threats to destory Israel and re-establish a caliphate in the entire Middle East and then beyond?

    If the Iranian regime insits on continuing their nuclear plan, a military confrontation will happen, I believe the world would be better off fighting an economically weak Iran in 2013 than a strong Iran as it was in 2009.

    It is always sad to see civilians getting hurt, but the blame needs to be put on the Iranian regime, which is responsible for the Iranian people and has the power to change the situation, not leaders of other countries who were voted to protect their people and are doing just that.

  4. Iran is MUCH stronger now than it was in 2009, more missiles, more preparation, etc… There is no way to stop Iran's nuclear progress, since it is assured legal by the NPT – the only way to prevent a weapon is to accept this fact and then monitor

  5. Iran would have been a democracy if the US/UK hadn´t made a coup in 1953, and the US would have been a democracy if the Supreme Court hadn´t elected Bush.

  6. Blame the Iranian regime for the fact that WE are hurting THIER citizens? Wow.
    We don’t use whipping boys for a reason.

  7. Take your war mongering somewhere else. Do you realize you are on anti-war.com?

  8. what proof do you have that Iran is making nuclear weapons when official US intelligence states otherwise?

  9. Certain crumbling economies want oil to be dirt cheap in order to bail them out. What happens when the oil of these nations runs out? They need to conserve and plan ahead. This is in contrast with the agenda of their foreign backers. Any nation with oil needs nuclear weapons to defend themselves. Those Saudi-paid mercenaries are totally out for themselves and not for the good of their people.

  10. I look for such article along time, today I find it finally. This post gives me lots of advice it is very useful for me. I will pay more attention to you, I hope you can go on posting more such post; I will support you all the time.

  11. [...] the behavior or make-up of the regime (the interventionists’ stated goal). Sanctions have a terrible track record for effectiveness throughout history and this case is no [...]

  12. [...] “Economic Warfare on Iran: Obama’s Savage Campaign Strategy,” Antiwar.com [July 11, 2012] http://antiwar.com/blog/2012/07/11/economic-warfare-on-iran-obamas-savage-campaign-strategy/; and Kourosh Ziabari, “Who is the Winner of Sanctions Game?” [July 12, [...]

  13. Hi Sandy,

    So, really what you're saying is "this is a place for people against war who do not welcome any opinions, which do not conform to what they think. Facts are irrelevant".

    Nice…

  14. I think a war is a better option because then the west is being honest about its intentions and also would be willing to pay some price to meet its objectives. The western nations have never supported a true democracy in middle east and their only goal in the region is to steal the resources in the region and build their own countries (but ofcourse only to the benefiT of their rich elites).

  15. Not accurate. The US intelligence has stated that Iran has not built a bomb. That is true, but Iran has done everything to bring itself to a point, in which it could make a decision to make a nuclear breakthrough and enrich enough uranium to build a bomb (i.e. point of no return).
    Intelligence reports show that it has a missile program able to carry warheads, which it refuses to have checked by the UN, it has been operating a secret nucear plant in Qom against the treaty it has signed for 3 years, before being found out and reports show their efforts in cleaning up a site suspected of nuclear tests.
    People love to draw parallels with Iraq, but this not the same case. The West knows a lot about the nuclear program and has been sabotaging the program delaying it by years.
    The public doesn't know everything, just like the Syrian secret nuclear site was bombed in 2007. Or do you believe the ridiculous Syrian claims that Israel bombed the site with nuclear bombs, which is why radioactive traces were found???

  16. While money plays a very important part no doubt. A war with Iraq was definitely not the cheap option (cutting a deal with Sadam would have been), in Iran it certainly isn't either (The sanctions were a real risk to the recovering economies).

    It is easy to shout "money", but there were at least 3 better ways to extract money from the region, if that was the purpose. Money is always a factor, but in this case it is not the cause or the aim.

  17. Actually there are many ways to stop Iran's nuclear progress and most of them are already taking place. But as it apears, they are not enough. Whereas other leaders would put the welfare of their citizens first, Iran completely disregards it and continues to survive economically by removing subsidies, ignoring the inflation and essentially leaving their people to fend for their own or die of hunger.
    It is painfully obvious that the West is trying to avoid war, as it has been over 3 years and no conflict has taken place.
    Accpeting a lunatic Islamic dictatorship regime, which calls on the destruction of another country, having nuclear capability doesn't seem like a feasible option.

  18. Ah free speech

  19. [...] sanctions are having impoverishing effects on millions of innocent Iranians. “Prices of fruit and sugar, among other staples, have [...]

  20. [...] sanctions are having impoverishing effects on millions of innocent Iranians. “Prices of fruit and sugar, among other staples, have soared [...]

  21. [...] sanctions are having impoverishing effects on millions of innocent Iranians. “Prices of fruit and sugar, among other staples, have soared [...]

  22. [...] sanctions are having impoverishing effects on millions of innocent Iranians. “Prices of fruit and sugar, among other staples, have soared [...]

  23. It is always sad to see civilians getting hurt, but the blame needs to be put on the Iranian regime, which is responsible for the Iranian people and has the power to change the situation, not leaders of other countries who were voted to protect their people and are doing just that.

  24. This bridge is truly a hymn to stone and steel. I remember that was a real crowd on the walkway, awesome you guys made it.

  25. Excellent article! It's apparent you've gone to a lot of trouble to research and write this article. Thanks for caring so much about your content.

  26. I guess it is all doable, we just have to wait and see how things develop.

  27. Certain crumbling economies want oil to be dirt cheap in order to bail them out. What happens when the oil of these nations runs out? They need to conserve and plan ahead. This is in contrast with the agenda of their foreign backers. Any nation with oil needs nuclear weapons to defend themselves. Those Saudi-paid mercenaries are totally out for themselves and not for the good of their people.
    winter holiday limo

  28. You actually make it appear so easy with your performance but I find this affair to be actually something which I think I would never comprehend.

  29. Me and my friend were arguing about an issue similar to this! Now I know that I was right.Thanks for the information you post.

  30. I was assisting a friend to find websites concerning annuity tools however I found your web page instead. I check out the Herschel Space Telescope and I find it incredibly remarkable. Great job!

  31. It is excellent article which gives lot of information. i like it to read again and again.

  32. Iran-Contra do over cha-cha! Where are you Oliver North, the Obama needs you.
    "High crimes and murderous treason are, at times, necessary to protect Caesa

  33. This is quite fantastic post. It affects a lot of urgent challenges of our society. We can not be untouched to these issues. This post gives a lot of wonderful information and inspiration. Well done.extract of garcinia cambogia

  34. It was so bad for Iran. It is now a global issue. They are facing an economic crisis for this.

  35. Iran has faced some great problems really. But they recovered a lot. These things should be changed at once. affordable hip replacement