Monday, January 4, 2010

Isn't it time to get tough with Iran?

Does the United States really think additional economic sanctions will force Iran to come to the conclusion that its future depends on peaceful relations with Western nations? That years of international economic pressure -- which so far have only made Tehran more belligerent -- can be raised to a level that Iran cannot continue to ignore with impunity? Just hearing the words out loud makes it easy to see how preposterous that is. Yet Washington is at it again, trying to convince reluctant allies that depend on Iran for oil to power their economies to comply with stricter economic sanctions. "We have already begun discussions with our partners and with like-minded nations about pressure and sanctions," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters Monday at a news conference in Washington, according to the Reuters international news service. "Our goal is to pressure the Iranian government, particularly the Revolutionary Guard elements, without contributing to the suffering of the ordinary (people), who deserve better than what they currently are receiving." If this sounds familiar, it should. Every president since Jimmy Carter has tried some measure of the same tactic to influence Tehran but has failed. There is no reason to think the strategy will succeed this time. Look at the way Iran's government is trying to repress the reform movement -- arrests and mistreatment of detainees. If this also sounds familiar, it should. But making things a little more difficult for Iran will not be good enough -- things have to be a lot more difficult before Tehran will be forced to care. Iran has obviously realized that despite all the rhetoric, Western nations do not actually want to cut their crippling dependence on oil from the Middle East -- even though that has always been the only way to get Tehran to take notice.

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