The Daily Need

War with Iran? Sanctions, oil embargo and threat to close trade route add to tension

 

An Iranian missile test. Photo: AP

Is Iran the world’s greatest threat, or a feeble, paranoid regime made weak by economic sanctions?

Depending on who you ask, you’ll get a different answer. Republican candidates for president, for example, have warned of the grave consequences of inaction when it comes to Iran’s rogue nuclear ambitions, comparing the regime to the rise of Nazi Germany. In his victory speech after the Iowa caucus on Tuesday, Mitt Romney mentioned Iran before he mentioned the economy, saying, “We face an extraordinary challenge in America. You know that. And that is, internationally, Iran is about to have nuclear weaponry just down the road here.”

Romney called the Obama administration’s strategy one of “engagement,” parroting, albeit in slightly more genial terms, Rick Santorum’s claim that Obama has pursued a policy of “appeasement” with respect to Iran. As it turns out, however, the economic sanctions imposed on Iran by the Obama administration and the international community may actually be working for the first time in decades, weakening an already insecure regime. The economic turmoil rippling through Iran, experts say, could lead the nation’s leaders either to cooperate with the international community or — if desperation takes hold — to lash out.

There has been widespread public anger in Iran as international sanctions have driven up the cost of basic goods by as much 40 percent. The Iranian currency, the rial, has tumbled against the dollar, and many of the country’s largest patrons on the oil market have either cut back or pledged to discontinue their purchases of crude from Iranian exporters. In a bold move on Thursday, for example, the European Union took a major step toward implementing a full embargo on Iranian oil. China and Japan have also said they plan to cut back on Iranian oil imports. Together, those three countries represent roughly half of Iran’s exports of crude.

Iran is likely to find other customers, or to increase exports to reliable patrons like Turkey, but it will probably have to offer discounts to stay competitive. And with economic turmoil and public anger continuing to grip the country, analysts say, it’s only a matter of time between one of two things happens: Either Iran does some provocative, to flex its muscle, or it reaches out to the international community to broker a deal on its nuclear program in an attempt to ease the economic sanctions. Iran’s leaders have hinted at both strategies.

First, Iran conducted a series of provocative missile tests in the region. Then, its leaders threatened to close off the Strait of Hormuz, a major supply route crucial to global trade and oil exports, with a naval blockade. Britain has called such a move illegal, and British military commanders promised to use force to keep the Strait open if necessary. “There should be no miscalculation by the Iranians about the importance that the international community attaches to keeping the Straits of Hormuz open,” the British defense secretary, Philip Hammond, said Thursday.

On the other hand, the Iranians have also expressed a willingness to return to the negotiating table, offering to resume talks with Western powers in Turkey. The Turkish foreign minister said Thursday that the West, including the U.S., had agreed to negotiate. It’s unclear, though, whether such an olive branch from Iran is sincere, or merely a ploy to further delay international action and buy time for the country’s nuclear program to proceed. As Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran expert at the Carnegie Endowment, wrote last year, Iran “tends to thrive in an atmosphere of instability and chaos.”

 
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Comments

  • Tekeste

    It is good getting updated information, no matter what is the next developments, to me it is useful to know what is going on, but I am not supporting or criticizing anyone, just first hand latest information is important. Thank you 

  • Conservative

    We should not allow Iran to get a nuclear weapon. However, we should pull back and allow the rest of the world to be the cop on the beat for a while. Let the UN do their jobs. Most likely they will fail like that have in the past. So we can hope for the best with Iran. We cannot afford to be a policeman anymore. We should cut off foreign aide to 90% of the places that receive it now and pull our money out of the UN. We need to get our feet back under us and then we can re-engage. Americans are overweight, lazy and not very smart. We need to get back into competitive shape we have to put our best and brightest into jobs. We have to start competing again in the world. 

  • jan

    War with Iran.  Both sides are working on it. 

  • Think First

    You must be an American then. :)

  • The Enemy Combatant

    On the other hand, the Iranians have also expressed a willingness to return to the negotiating table, offering to resume talks with Western powers in Turkey. The Turkish foreign minister said Thursday that the West, including the U.S., had agreed to negotiate. It’s unclear, though, whether such an olive branch from Iran is sincere, or merely a ploy to further delay international action and buy time for the country’s nuclear program to proceed. As Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran expert at the Carnegie Endowment, wrote last year, Iran “tends to thrive in an atmosphere of instability and chaos.”

    So — let’s get this straight:  Iran’s willingness negotiate is just a ploy to buy time to build its nuclear bomb, and then threaten the world with it.  Really?  To gain what, exactly?  Iran is just naturally evil, like Hitler and Darth Vader.  It just dotes on doing real bad stuff, because it just wants to offend our goodliness.  Americans live in a world where anyone who is on the receiving end of American foreign policy initiatives and resists in any way is little more than a comic book villain that needs a superhero punchout.  Other nations are mere baddies in the action movie world of American misperception. 

    I favor a war with Iran exactly because I oppose war with Iran — because I oppose empire, and I oppose one nation making another subject.  No argument can be posited on the wrongness of our picking a fight with a nation that has done nothing illegal nor has done anything to us.  Therefore, I support war with Iran because I know we will lose that war.  We  will kill hundreds of thousands of innocent people, we will inflame the region and roll back the meager and still vulnerable gains of the Arab Spring.  It will be an unmitigated disaster.  The U.S. will become an open police state because the empire will try to replicate at home what it could not produce abroad because its impulse to violence will find no outlet except upon its own citizens. 

    Here is the good news:  our ability to make war on the world will be serverly crippled, and it is likely never to recover.  This last act may cost the U.S. its seat on the Security Council; it will force Israel to properly negotiate with the Palestinians because a wounded United States will have its ability to support it weakened; other nations may — only may — consider forming defensive coalitions to protect themselves from a batsh*t United States.  A U.S. too disabled to bully other nations is the only way for the rest of the world to survive the continued presence of the U.S. on the planet Earth.  We will never learn peace; we will will always gaze upon the Earth as a “target rich environment”.  The U.S. will never give up its guns.  Maybe it will one day, consequent upon one war too many, become to weak to pull it triggers.

  • The Enemy Combatant

    On the other hand, the Iranians have also expressed a willingness to return to the negotiating table, offering to resume talks with Western powers in Turkey. The Turkish foreign minister said Thursday that the West, including the U.S., had agreed to negotiate. It’s unclear, though, whether such an olive branch from Iran is sincere, or merely a ploy to further delay international action and buy time for the country’s nuclear program to proceed. As Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran expert at the Carnegie Endowment, wrote last year, Iran “tends to thrive in an atmosphere of instability and chaos.”

    So — let’s get this straight:  Iran’s willingness negotiate is just a ploy to buy time to build its nuclear bomb, and then threaten the world with it.  Really?  To gain what, exactly?  Iran is just naturally evil, like Hitler and Darth Vader.  It just dotes on doing real bad stuff, because it just wants to offend our goodliness.  Americans live in a world where anyone who is on the receiving end of American foreign policy initiatives and resists in any way is little more than a comic book villain that needs a superhero punchout.  Other nations are mere baddies in the action movie world of American misperception. 

    I favor a war with Iran exactly because I oppose war with Iran — because I oppose empire, and I oppose one nation making another subject.  No argument can be posited on the wrongness of our picking a fight with a nation that has done nothing illegal nor has done anything to us.  Therefore, I support war with Iran because I know we will lose that war.  We  will kill hundreds of thousands of innocent people, we will inflame the region and roll back the meager and still vulnerable gains of the Arab Spring.  It will be an unmitigated disaster.  The U.S. will become an open police state because the empire will try to replicate at home what it could not produce abroad because its impulse to violence will find no outlet except upon its own citizens. 

    Here is the good news:  our ability to make war on the world will be serverly crippled, and it is likely never to recover.  This last act may cost the U.S. its seat on the Security Council; it will force Israel to properly negotiate with the Palestinians because a wounded United States will have its ability to support it weakened; other nations may — only may — consider forming defensive coalitions to protect themselves from a batsh*t United States.  A U.S. too disabled to bully other nations is the only way for the rest of the world to survive the continued presence of the U.S. on the planet Earth.  We will never learn peace; we will will always gaze upon the Earth as a “target rich environment”.  The U.S. will never give up its guns.  Maybe it will one day, consequent upon one war too many, become to weak to pull it triggers.