Rand Paul on Iran Sanctions

John Glaser, February 07, 2013

In the news section, I critique some of Senator Rand Paul’s foreign policy speech at the Heritage Foundation yesterday. One aspect of the article that I could not elaborate on is Sen. Paul’s support for sanctions against Iran.

Following his speech yesterday, I was afforded the opportunity to ask Paul a question about about this. The sanctions, I said, are not only strategically ineffective, but they are a cruel form of collective punishment that harm innocent Iranian civilians, without much purpose beyond political points at home. Instead of serving as an alternative to war, as Paul said in his speech, sanctions have historically been a prelude to it.

Here is his response in full:

I believe sanctions are not a prelude to war, but rather a tool to achieve a desired result without war.  While it may be true that others have used sanctions as simply a box to check on the way to war, that does not mean sanctions cannot be used properly. I do not believe they have passed their point of effectiveness, and to say so, to give up on them, may remove one of the last remaining obstacles to a consensus on preemptive war.  I believe sanctions can be enhanced through strategic diplomacy engaging Russia and China. Finally, Iran has recently asked for renewed discussions, some believe this is a direct outcome of the pressure of sanctions.

In addition, I have insisted and been successful in adding language to sanctions assuring that nothing in the legislation is to be interpreted as a decl of war or a use of author of force.

Here, Paul failed to respond to one of the central points in my question, that innocent Iranians are suffering as a result of the sanctions. Unemployment is high, inflation is out of control, the banking industry has all but ground to a halt, and much needed medicine for people with cancer, hemophilia, etc. is being blocked, putting millions of lives at risk, according to the Charity Foundation for Special Diseases, a non-government organization in Iran supporting six million patients.

Paul declined to answer a follow-up question addressing this point.

But of course, the collective punishment aspect is only one part of a larger story. Sanctioned countries almost never change their policies in the direction the sanctioning countries demand. Vali Nasr, Dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in D.C. and widely understood as an expert on Iran said just last month that the sanctions have passed the point of effectiveness. Similarly, world-renowned international relations theorist Kenneth Waltz recently wrote in Foreign Affairs that “the current sanctions on Iran can be dropped,” since “they primarily harm ordinary Iranians, with little purpose.”

Nasr said that needlessly keeping sanctions 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.” In other words, Iran could just dig in its heals if it thinks the sanctions are too draconian and won’t ever let up.

As I’ve written recently, the case of Iraq is instructive. The US-led sanctions on Iraq directly led to the deaths of about 500,000 children, and Washington’s goal was not to make Saddam comply with nuclear standards, but instead to change the regime.

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.”

We could be seeing something similar in Iran. And while Rand Paul claims sanctions may get us out of war, in reality they are keeping the Iran issue unresolved and kicking the can down the road – as Clinton did until Bush – for someone else perhaps more willing to do something as reckless as start a war on Iran for a nuclear weapons program it doesn’t have.




29 Responses to “Rand Paul on Iran Sanctions”

  1. Thank you very much for asking the question, John, regardless of whether Sen. Paul decided to actually answer it.

  2. This must be Rand Paul's idea of job creation: U.S. solders fighting Iran on Israel's behalf.

    The youth of America transformed into a ‘Hessian’ mercenary force, rented out to the interests of foreign nations (just one actually) and mega-multinational corporations (read: tax avoiding corporate parasites who wrap themselves in the flag whenever they want the U.S. public to pick up the tab for something).

    He is just one more member of Congress doing the Neo-Cons’ bidding.

  3. I am sick of Rand Paul now. I thought he was going to be okay but he has slowly went to being a fool. I want him out. And I am from Kentucky.

  4. Rand Paul is building his career on a pile of Iranian corpses. As pointed out in this blog, we know how this ends, we've seen the consequences of sanctions, it's hell on earth for the people living under them, and Rand Paul is ok with this, because it might help him get to the top. Sanctions were so bad in Iraq that they had to do amputations with no anesthetic!.

    RAND PAUL HAS BLOOD ON HIS HANDS!.

    Despicable man.

    "there's room at the top they are telling you still, but first you must learn to smile as you kill" – John Lennon.

  5. I voted for Rand in 2010—with reservations. Even then I feared that he might be too willing to truckle to the Lobby and its right-wing lackeys, and that he might therefore prove something of an interventionist—especially on Iran. My fears, alas, were fully justified.

    In any case, thanks for hitting Rand with this tough question, Mr. Glaser. His evasion said much about his character—and none of it creditable.

    P.S.—Do you suppose Antiwar.com will get invited to the next big Rand event? :-)

  6. [...] Rand Paul Gets It Wrong on Iran Sanctions [...]

  7. Sanctions were so bad in Iraq that they had to do amputations with no anesthetic!.

  8. I like most of the posters here am sick and tired of voting for those who turn out to be the COMPLETE OPPOSITE of that which they PROFESS..

  9. I've held out hope but he disappoints. He accepts an act of war in order to build a consensus against preemptive war. ??????

  10. Rand Paul is a callous, ambitious and duplicitous moron who is a discredit to his courageous and principled father. He has no heart, no compassion and needs to feel the sting of electoral rejection. He might be just a tiny mite better than some of his more ridiculous colleagues in the Senate, but he is sucking up to some pretty dangerous hombres. He is not the Republican “hopey, changey”. He is not the “real deal.” He is just a slightly more polished games-player and needs to be exposed and thoroushly rejected.

  11. Yes, Rand Paul is just another paid shill for Israel and the war machine. He doesn't deserve to carry his father's name.

  12. [...] to look at it as a political calculation – the only way to understand Rand Paul’s various zigs and zags along the road to [...]

  13. he's not like his Daddy, he is part of the system now and dare not cross the line, pos

  14. The people demanding sanctions upon Iran were the same people demanding sanctions and then war upon Iraq. What everyone must understand is that contrary to Rand Paul's baloney (and isn't it interesting that he denies what wasn't said, but is the essential element) is that sanctions serve a dual purpose – they immediately impose cruel collective punishment and then they serve as the last box to be checked off before dropping bombs, i.e. "Well, of course, we had to bomb – we tried sanctions but the sanctions didn't work – we simply had no other choice!" A line of thinking that comes straight out of Tel Aviv.

  15. Most yankee politicans except for a rare two or three are just unadulterated jackasses that make fools of themselves and those they represent.I would dare anyone to challenge this that all american "presidents" from washington to present were war criminals.

  16. What a shame that a son of Ron Paul turns out completely different and becomes a poster child of AIPAC servants….

  17. I made the grievous mistake of voting for this guy here in KY. He is just like all the rest. I believe I thought he would be more like his father, but since then it has occurred to me that the horseapple never falls far from the horses ass so maybe daddy’s not all everyone thinks he is either.

  18. but the sanctions didn't work – we simply had no other choice!" A line of thinking that comes straight out of Tel Aviv.

  19. And he'll pay very dearly for having sold out to the system. If he ever expects to gain the support of his father's followers, he's in for a very unpleasant surprise.

  20. P.S.—Do you suppose Antiwar.com will get invited to the next big Rand event? :-)

    No, but you can bet that the sleazeball won't hesitate to pander to the AWC crowd for campaign contributions.

  21. Rand made it clear, through word and deed, even before getting elected to the Senate that he was a fraud. This latest stunt shouldn't surprise anyone who's been paying attention.

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  23. [...] to look at it as a political calculation – the only way to understand Rand Paul’s various zigs and zags along the road to [...]

  24. [...] to look at it as a political calculation – the only way to understand Rand Paul’s various zigs and zags along the road to [...]

  25. Antiwar has sold out to the neocons.

  26. So you would rather Iran build their nuclear bomb and bomb Israel and the U S. Sanctions are better than sending our soldiers into war if they accomplish getting nuclear material from a crazy man. That is an ignorant statement.

  27. If Iran GETS' NUKLER'(BUSH SPEAK) arms–SO F WHAT….Then NAZI WARMONGER IS RA HELL will think(?) twice before starting anymore s*** IN THE MIDEAST–IRAN–GO FOR IT!

  28. Ahmadinejad is no crazy man, as the neocon's, Zionist &media would have you believe. These sanction are in no way about nukes. They are are "weapons of mass distraction", just as they were in Iraq.

    If you will recall, when Dubya addressed the nation and stated he would not negotiate with the axis of evil. This was a result of of Iran's request to talk about their development for nuclear energy for electricity and medical research. They were very willing to cooperate & comply with the IAEA. The problem in the Bush administration was the plan was already in place to invade 7 countries in 5 years. Iran being one of them. Knowing what we and they know now, why would you concede, during an Republican administration.

    Now that we no longer have a hot head murdering neocon in the white House, Iran understands its time now to comply. Compliance has nothing to do with sanctions, but everything to do with ethics and morality of a new head of state in America, who understands might is neither right, nor a conceivable resolve.

  29. le référencement régional fait usage de l’inscription des sites locaux (Pages Jaunes, Yahoo, Google, Bing, etc) qui ciblent les termes ciblés d’un point de vue géographique,…