Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Another round of sanctions

Under Bush, the US said, in line with the UN Security Council resolutions that it wrote, that a suspension was a precondition for talks.

Under Obama, the US says, in line with the Security Council resolutions that it wrote, as well as though the Bush administration wrote, that a suspension and an effective US veto over Iran’s resumption of enrichment is necessarily the outcome of talks.

Talks about a suspension, talks about what mechanism to use to subject Iran’s enrichment and nuclear program to a US veto aren’t worth having. If the US was to change its policy and end its demand that Iran stop enriching, that message could be communicated publicly or privately, but without that talks would serve no purpose.

Well, anyway a suspension is not going to happen. Obama is going to have to decide how the US will relate with Iran in the absence of a suspension. Obama is choosing increased hostility. US soldiers in Afghanistan will pay for this choice as Iran’s civilians pay for it.

I’ll note again though, that by late 2007, Bush had chosen an agreement to disagree along with cooperation in other areas. Obama’s actions in 2010 are a step backwards. As of today, it is not possible to say Obama is following a less provocative course in its relations with Iran than Bush was at the end of his term.

The TRR deal could just be a trade of LEU for medical fuel. The US now openly says that it is to be used as leverage to accomplish a “comprehensive” deal – one in which the Iran comes to an agreement with the US about whether or not Iran suspends enrichment. We can see that the Brazil, Turkey deal is unacceptable to the US because it does not give the US leverage in a push push for a comprehensive agreement. Any proposal the US made in November must have if the US supported it.

If the US can buy Russian cooperation with sanctions in exchange for slowing its development of missile defense and Chinese cooperation by tolerating a wider range of Chinese currency management, then honestly I can’t fault Russia or China for taking advantage of their security council veto to advance their strategic interests. Even if Iran ensures that they endure some cost for their cooperation with the US, they are not the engines of these sanctions.

This sanctions policy is good for Israel because the principle that countries that oppose Israel are punished is being enforced. And Israel is not the country that has troops in Iraq or Afghanistan. This policy is bad for the US because US objectives in the region are becoming more difficult to achieve.

The dream that Barack Obama might be the president who could disentangle US interests from Israel’s has crashed against the reality the the United States has a political system that makes it impossible for a person who could do that to rise to power.

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