Iran Sanctions Passed the Point of Effectiveness, Says Expert

John Glaser, January 24, 2013

The unprecedentedly harsh economic sanctions regime Washington has imposed on Iran “really has reached its end,” according to Vali Nasr, Dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C.

Nasr, born in Tehran, is well within the mainstream in Washington’s foreign policy elite, having worked in and out of government with people like Richard Holbrooke, John Kerry, and Richard Haas. However, he has been somewhat critical of Obama’s drone policy, the lack of diplomacy on Iran, and the continuation of some of George W. Bush’s worst foreign policy strategies.

Nasr explained that the sanctions have passed their point of effectiveness and that needlessly keeping them in place will generate “a scenario where Iran is going to rush very quickly towards nuclear power, because they also think, like North Korea, that you have much more leverage to get rid of these sanctions.”

This point is arguable. While it’s true that US policy towards Iran has long incentivized the Islamic Republic to obtain nuclear weapons as a tool of international prestige and strategic deterrence, their religious fatwas against weapons of mass destruction have proven ironclad in the past. And it is probably still the case that the majority of Iranian strategists consider the international isolation and hostility they would attract by developing weapons to be greater than any potential benefits. Still, increased aggression will continue to pressure Iran away from its commitments under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Either way, the sanctions, as renowned international relations theorist Kenneth Waltz has argued, should be dropped since they “primarily harm ordinary Iranians, with little purpose.” And indeed, ordinary Iranian are being harmed as unemployment continues to rise, inflation is increasingly out of control, and the import of vital medicines for severely sick Iranians are being blocked, putting millions of lives at risk. Economies are simply collections of individual interactions between people, and the US is waging war on those interactions – and thus, waging war on the Iranian people.

Sanctions regimes have a terrible record of actually being effective altering policies in one direction or another, which is why I’ve argued – and reiterated again yesterday – that the Obama administration is either extremely stupid, or they’re perfectly rational and a change in policy is not the goal. Rather, the goal is regime change.

The case of Iraq is instructive. Washington had set out in the early 1990s claiming the purpose of the extreme sanctions on Iraq was to undermine the nuclear weapons program. And “by the first few months of 1997, Iraq had completed the disarmament phase of the cease-fire agreement and the United Nations had developed a monitoring system designed to detect Iraqi violations of the nonproliferation requirement,” report two high level diplomats in Foreign Affairs.

But the US refused to lift the sanctions, and threatened to veto proposals to do so at the UN. “In the spring of 1997, former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright gave a speech at Georgetown University in which she stated that even if the weapons provisions under the cease-fire resolution were completed, the United States would not agree to lifting sanctions unless Saddam had been removed from power.”

There seem to be two plausible scenarios for the sanctions regime on Iran. The first is that the sanctions continue to cause mass suffering for millions of innocent Iranians. The second is that the sanctions back Tehran into a corner on the nuclear issue, prompting them to dash for weapons (which, according to US intelligence, they have not yet done). These are not mutually exclusive, but neither scenario includes a diplomatic settlement where Washington is reassured of Iran’s commitment to non-proliferation and Iran is relieved of sanctions and is no longer the victim of threats of illegal war by states that are orders of magnitude more powerful militarily.

Such a conclusion is perfectly within reach, if only Washington would choose diplomacy over imperial bullying and hegemony in the Middle East. But it doesn’t seem to be in the cards for Barack Obama.




40 Responses to “Iran Sanctions Passed the Point of Effectiveness, Says Expert”

  1. [...] Iran Sanctions Passed the Point of Effectiveness, Says Expert [...]

  2. They also think, like North Korea, that you have much more leverage to get rid of these sanctions.”

  3. Don't stop, US zombies. You stupid human trash!

  4. Here is what everyone should really pay attention to … " Nasr, born in Tehran, is well within the mainstream in Washington’s foreign policy elite,,…" .

    Isn't it time for us to use common sense instead of the "mainstream" ? Hasn't the "main stream" been wrong so often that we should start looking for real solutions as opposed to using the same idiots with the same argument ?

    How does that saying go … "repeating the same thing but expecting a different outcome" ?

    Just food for thought !

  5. The mainstream is a bunch of puppets that cader to Israel. Albright said the million deaths in Iraq that killed at least 500 thousand children "was worth it'.1Of the stupidist evil things I've ever herd,and she and anyone like here witch includes so many people in many government should be jail if not killed from war crime and crimes against humanity.What people push for such evil the most?Israel AIPAC etc followed by a bunch of puppets in the American and many other governments.I know the world biggest danders,and it's not any of the countrys we hear on the Zionist owned MSM.Come on everyone we can easly see who is the real danger,a country with the Sampson Option and more broken UN Resolutions than the entire Mid east,and world combined.And America supports them in illegal wars and occupations.I could go on forever,but anyone that really is Antiwar or even humain would no who is the worlds biggest problem.Iran is not even close to being as evil as many of the so called good guys.

  6. Palistine has 0 broken UN Resolutions,well their land has almost been entirely stolen and whats left if the worlds biggest jail.The government the people all need to stop this,it could be you.I'm not Arab I'm White and Canadian but realize that could be me.We claim to be humain well we should prove it by stopping things like this,and the truth should always be told to the people unlike today when we get lies almost never TRUTH.

  7. [...] with the Islamic Republic. But the aggressive approach has generated a backlash in Iran and has all but ruined the chances for a diplomatic settlement on the nuclear program. This simply puts the US on the road to [...]

  8. [...] with the Islamic Republic. But the aggressive approach has generated a backlash in Iran and has all but ruined the chances for a diplomatic settlement on the nuclear program. This simply puts the US on the road to [...]

  9. [...] with the Islamic Republic. But the aggressive approach has generated a backlash in Iran and has all but ruined the chances for a diplomatic settlement on the nuclear program. This simply puts the US on the road to [...]

  10. [...] with the Islamic Republic. But the aggressive approach has generated a backlash in Iran and has all but ruined the chances for a diplomatic settlement on the nuclear program. This simply puts the US on the road to [...]

  11. I absolutely aggree with "Truth Allowed"…… There could be very big conflict anytime soon involving almost anybody in Asia. Internacional Zionism with its Zionist Banksters always waged major wars in history when T H E I R !!!"The Ponzi Pyramid" was about to colapse. Yet, today we have another player in their filthy game – their "child" – monsterous and brutal regime of "Province of Palestine called Israel" / I simply like to use this term/…
    And its influence brainwash big part of World population with their controled media, their ability of waging "terrorism without borders, fanatism of their unreasonable leaders and some Rabbies"….all this "paint dark future" upon Mankind.
    Probably there will be final conflict, but Zionist Judaism will on end experience Total defeat – and forever. Israel and Zionism is hated today behind repair …and if they wage disasterous war on this planet, then they are finished…
    People will have to start from the skratch again and without Satanic Zionism!!!!, they will have chance….
    Sadistic fanatism of group of people, making God into some kind of Realestate Agent ,leaving only destruction and piles of slotered people behind will be no, no for future generations.
    And future historiens will truly marvel when describing "our times". They will not understand why people did not act in time,when the evidence was FOR ANYBODY WHO WANTS on the table ….every day….peter czech

  12. noureil roubini(doctor doom) was born in iran, then worked @ bank of israel, now lauded as the seer of futures(economicus)- should not this individual have a clarity worth discussing or does his knowledge and investments benefit fom further tensions? vali nasr also taught @ US naval war college, which means as much as a rabbi or imam who sells pork:)

  13. [...] my earlier piece which quoted Nasr condemning the sanction on Iran as [...]

  14. [...] my earlier piece which quoted Nasr condemning the sanctions on Iran as ineffective and [...]

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  18. [...] (See my earlier piece which quoted Nasr condemning the sanctions on Iran as ineffective and counterproductive.) [...]

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  37. This point is arguable. While it’s true that US policy towards Iran has long incentivized the Islamic Republic to obtain nuclear weapons as a tool of international prestige and strategic deterrence, their religious fatwas against weapons of mass destruction have proven ironclad in the past.

  38. I know the world biggest danders,and it's not any of the countrys we hear on the Zionist owned MSM.Come on everyone we can easly see who is the real danger,a country with the Sampson Option and more broken UN Resolutions than the entire Mid east,and world combined.And America supports them in illegal wars and occupations

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