I ran, I ran so far away
Honestly, since every deadline made has been blown through like a stack of dead leaves, I’m not entirely certain what further sanctions on Iran will accomplish; Juan Cole and I agree on that. From Salon:
A Swiss company just signed a deal worth $13 billion to import Iranian natural gas over the next 25 years. As for financial sanctions, so far Iran is evading them through banking partners in the United Arab Emirates, and Iran and Venezuela have two joint banks. These measures provide Iran with a back door, allowing it to mitigate the effects of financial sanctions.
Very few sanctions have actually produced regime change or altered regime behavior. The U.S. could not even accomplish this goal with regard to a small island 90 miles off its shores, Cuba. That an oil giant halfway around the world with a population of 70 million that is as big as Spain, France and Germany can be effectively bludgeoned with sanctions is not very likely.
And BBC reported this morning that Turkey has offered to mediate on Iran’s nuclear programme:
The Turkish foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, announced the offer after talks with his Iranian counterpart Manouchehr Mottaki.
Western powers say Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons, and the US and its European allies have been pushing for new sanctions against Tehran. Iran says its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes. Last year, Turkey offered to store Iran’s uranium as part of a deal for Iran to send low-enriched uranium abroad to be turned into fuel rods. The plan faltered, but on Tuesday Mr Davutoglu said Turkey could help revive a diplomatic solution.
I mean, at least they picked a side, but it’s a seriously weak move and pretty late in the game. I don’t know–the more I learn about Iran, the more disgruntled I get. Not because of the brutal buffoonery of its secular leader, or the state’s general harm towards its citizens, or even because there’s little for me to do on this very far other side of the world except wonder about exactly how much truth I’m reading. I’m disgruntled because there’s no simple resolution here, from any direction. It’s like a chess match where half the pieces have been swept away, and doubles of others have been inserted onto the board.
If economic sanctions won’t work, and the West is generally less likely to bomb Iran without open provocation, and Ahmadinejad plays with the olive branch of dipliomacy like it’s a child’s toy, what are the other options? Waiting for another hostage crisis to take action? Seeing if Iran has actually managed to build a missile that will reach beyond Syra and Jordan?
There’s an appropriate variation of an adage for this: don’t blog about foreign policy if you can’t handle unanswerable questions. But this one seems more unanswerable than most.