Saturday, January 30, 2010

Iran Sanctions?

The NYT editorializes today on some of the themes I raised in my op-ed on Iran in the Irish Times a few weeks ago, but comes to the opposite conclusion and calls for tougher sanctions by the US and the EU:
New United Nations sanctions must be deftly targeted to inflict maximum damage on the levers of repression — especially the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, which also runs the nuclear program — without imposing additional suffering on the Iranians.
If the Security Council does not act quickly, then the United States and Europe must apply more pressure on their own.They do, however, agree with the point I made on the US Senate bill punishing oil companies doing business with Iran:

The Senate on Thursday approved a bill that would punish companies for exporting gasoline to Iran or helping Iran expand its own petroleum refining capability. The House already had passed a similar version. That may be necessary at some point, but right now we are concerned that this approach will hurt too many Iranians outside the government.
The NYT also cautions against aggressive moves aimed at regime change:
Some experts say the government is so weakened that the United States should withdraw its offer to improve relations and focus solely on regime change. No one has put forward a compelling plan for achieving that, but military action would be a disaster. As we saw in Iraq, talk of regime change can be an unpredictable and dangerous game.
Iran is already, predictably, claiming that the homegrown opposition is a tool of the West. That is absurd. President Obama needs to speak out more strongly on behalf of Iranians who are peacefully seeking change. But the United States and its partners also must be very conscious of the fierce pride and independence of the Iranian people. Squaring that circle will be extremely hard, but it must be done.