Pages: 1 2
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov was quoted by Interfax as saying that any new sanctions “will be seen in the international community as an instrument for regime change in Tehran. That approach is unacceptable to us, and the Russian side does not intend to consider such proposals.”
Russia and China, along with significant emerging countries like India, Brazil and South Africa, have complained that NATO misused the UN Security Council resolution authorizing military action to protect civilians in Libya as a pretext to force regime change in Libya. They are using that precedent as justification to oppose other Western initiatives in the Security Council against rogue regimes, including with respect to Syria as well as Iran.
Even if Medvedev were inclined to be cooperative with Obama at this point to bring more pressure to bear on Iran, which he is not, Medvedev will soon be replaced by the more hardline, bellicose Vladimir Putin.
Moreover, the Obama administration itself is reluctant to impose the one additional sanction that could have a real bite – cutting off Iran’s central bank from the international financial system. Iran’s central bank is the clearinghouse for much of its petroleum trade, which is the key driver of its economy. Cutting off Iran’s central bank from the international financial system would effectively freeze much of its oil export market with crippling effects on Iran’s economy. But fearing a spike in global oil prices that would likely result from such a cut-off and a potentially negative economic impact on U.S. allies which currently depend on imports of Iranian oil for which they make payments linked with the central bank, the Obama administration is unwilling to take the one bold step short of military action that could actually make a difference.
Obama did declare during his news conference that he was not taking any option off the table, presumably including the military option: “I have said repeatedly and I will say it today, we are not taking any options off the table, because it’s my firm belief that an Iran with a nuclear weapon would pose a security threat not only to the region but also to the United States.”
What that warning means is hard to say. Hopefully, the Obama administration is using covert actions to sabotage the Iranian nuclear program in cooperation with Israel, such as the Stuxnet virus that slowed down, but did not cripple, Iran’s nuclear enrichment program. Was last Sunday’s explosion at a Revolutionary Guards arms depot, which killed at least seventeen members of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards Corps including the architect of Iran’s missile program, General Hassan Moqaddam, an accident as Iran is claiming or was it an act of sabotage that may harbinger more such acts to come?
To what extent the Obama administration would provide support for an outright attack on Iranian nuclear facilities by Israel or launch one itself is unclear, although it should be noted that the Obama administration has sold bunker-busting bombs to Israel. This is not to suggest that such an attack would be a good idea. It would be almost impossible to take out all of Iran’s nuclear facilities and end its program entirely. Thus, the benefits of causing merely a further delay in Iran’s weapons development would have to be weighed against the potential costs. As United States Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said, “You’ve got to be careful of unintended consequences here. It could have a serious impact in the region, and it could have a serious impact on U.S. forces in the region.”
A naval blockade against Iran in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz would likely lead to counter-attacks on U.S. naval forces by Iran, disruptions of key oil transport routes and the unleashing of Hezbollah rockets against Israel and other targets. Again, the costs may outweigh the benefits unless a truly crippling blow could be assured against Iran’s nuclear program.
However, a blockade to prevent the introduction of Iranian missiles or missile parts into Venezuela or other Latin American countries allied with Iran would send the kind of signal to Iran that President John F. Kennedy sent to the Soviet Union when he ordered a military “quarantine” of Cuba to prevent offensive weapons from being delivered to Cuba. If an overt military option is needed, this could be one that would show the U.S. means business and would be the easiest to carry out.
Perhaps Obama will surprise us and show the boldness he displayed in making the decision to take out Osama bin Laden. But his record to date on Iran is dismal. His pathetic attempt at his news conference to spin his record as placing us in “a much stronger position now than we were two or three years ago” is an insult to the intelligence of the American people.
Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.
Pages: 1 2