A Dissenting Voice on Economic Sanctions for Iran

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Juan Cole has a long and typically insightful post deconstructing the latest rumblings in Washington about the impact of tightening sanctions on Iran. Assuming, that is, the president can convince Brazil, Russia, India and China to go along - a big assumption - what then? As Cole notes, few commodities are more fungible than crude.

"Very few sanctions regimes have actually produced regime change or altered regime behavior. The US could not even accomplish this goal with regard to a small island 90 miles off its shores, Cuba. That an oil giant half way 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."

"The US needs to engage in comprehensive security talks with Iran, in hopes of striking a grand bargain. Because as Admiral Mullen rightly says, there are no good military options here."

That doesn't mean the U.S. won't still press ahead with sanction plans. But arm-twisting other nations and firms not to buy Iranian petroleum and gas may be a lot harder than it seemed only a few months earlier. For comparison purposes, check out the conclusions of this earlier GAO report measuring the effectiveness of the ban on U.S. trade and investment with Iran between 2003 and 2007.
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    Charles Cooper is an executive editor at CNET News. He has covered technology and business for more than 25 years, working at CBSNews.com, the Associated Press, Computer & Software News, Computer Shopper, PC Week, and ZDNet. E-mail Charlie.