Obama administration looks beyond sanctions against Iran

David Ignatius sketches some of the details in the the sanctions regime being crafted by Stuart Levey, undersecretary of the Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence, but he concedes that sanctions have rarely been effective instruments for changing policy.

For policymakers, the discussion is beginning to shift to the sensitive area suggested by Gates’s memo — the space between sanctions and outright military action. What options would the United States and its allies have, short of war, to raise the cost to Iran of pursuing a nuclear weapons program? Are there means of subverting, sabotaging or containing such a program without actually bombing Iranian facilities?

We won’t be hearing a lot of public discussion about this gray area. But that’s where senior officials will focus more of their energy in coming months, as they prepare for the possibility that Levey’s clever trap won’t work.

Is a “gray area” for the Obama administration the equivalent of the “dark side” Dick Cheney made infamous? Are we talking about kidnappings and assassinations? Having demonstrated his willingness to authorize extra-judicial detention and extra-judicial killing, is Obama getting ready to employ full-fledged state-sponsored terrorism?

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3 thoughts on “Obama administration looks beyond sanctions against Iran

  1. Mirza Ferdous Alam

    As far as sanction on Iran is concerned, it did not work so far since the day it had been imposed years ago. The US is unable to impose ”Crippling Sanction” so far for not being able to take on board Russia and China .Other countries in general are not in favour of using such a blunt instrument again and again which only increase the sufferings of the general people of the country. Russia on a more or less regular basis and China from time to timehave been providing USA with ”lip service” of support, but so far not any indication of concrete committiment. Both the countries have strategic and business interest with the Islamic Republic. UN sanctions often called ”Monumental stupidity” by many observers, may remain in the rhetoric of American diplomats in the days to come— as it appears at the moment. If the resolution is at all passed in the security council, it should be a very weak one without tooth.

    If the US decides to attack Iran with or without the help of Israel, the consequesnce will be disastrous for the whole world. American interest worldwide in general and in the middle east in particular will be affected to a great extenet. The US is scheduled to pack up from Iraq in the coming days after a long” questionable” and” mission unaccomplished” stay in Iraq. The experience of military invasion in Iraq is not a very happy one. It is engaged in Afganistan in an unwinable war. A third front at this point of time may prove costly in terms of money and blood for the US. How much domestic support will be available behind this war is a big question at this hour of severe economic crisis where the day to day life of average Americans are full of struggle and hardship.

    If attacked, Iran will retaliate with brut force, they will not hesitate to attack Israel and American MilitaryForces within their range. They can engage Hizbullah and Hamas to launch attack on Israel in two fronts and the middle east will become an unstable place with full of violence. American Military establishement in Bahrain and elsewhere in the middle east will be targets for Iranian missiles. Trading through the persian gulf will be severly affected and the price of oil will shoot up to unimaginable level. Americans may have to buy gasolin US 20.00 a gallon, it is predicted.

    With the track record of Iraq and Afghanistan the US cannot expect to punish Iran outright and stop the country from it’s nuclear pursuit. The general people of Iran will be more unified and they extend their full support for the existing government. The general people of the other countries in the region and the muslims all over the world will become angry with the US and their allies in case of an American attack. Some Arab countries, the American allies, will face the wrath of their citizens and the street protests will become uncontrollable. Hundreds of people may die in the Street Protests if the rulers want to control them. One may remember the protests in Arab Streets during Israel’s Gaza invasion of 2008-2009. The government of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan had to beg to the US for a cease fire to pacify their angry citizens.

    Now it remains to be seen how far Obama administration may go beyond sanctions considering the possible outcomes of an attack on Iran.

  2. Fred J

    Mirza Ferdous Alam, you sound so “pro-Iran” that it tickles me with laughter. Do you seriously think [aside from all of the economic implications of an attack] U.S. citizens and citizens of countries around the world would rather an all out nuclear war? Iran has already stated it’s willingness to “wipe Israel off of the map,” so that is exactly what we can expect them to attempt to do in the event that they acquire nuclear weapons! We cannot and should not allow Iran to become a nuclear power, if this happens, the world as we know it [for EVERYONE around the world] will cease to exist! Not only will Iran build it’s own nuclear weapons to intimidate it’s neighbors in the region, but they will also proliferate nuclear technology to terrorist organizations for use against all western nations and allies of all western nations. The acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran will certainly mean an attack [or attacks] against a city [or cities] of western nations. It will be the beginning of the end for EVERYONE! Iran cannot be allowed to acquire these weapons, I don’t care if it means gas at $50.00 per gallon! Extremely high gas prices for a limited amount of time is always a better alternaative to worlwide nuclear armageddon. You need to get a grip and screw your head on man, the Iranian ruling body is full of basket cases, they have no problem initiating WW3, they have already stated it!

  3. Mirza Ferdous Alam

    Fred J, you will be disheartened to know in a recent development the permanent members of security council are looking for a nuclear free middle east. Your country of choice “Israel” will be no exception and may have to loose grip on their antagonistic stock pile of Nuclear Armaments in the near future if this recent decision taken by the permanent members is to be materialized. Unfortunate for you that America has a different person in the White House!!! Now you can laugh as much as you wish without being being tickled!!!!

    I am not pro Iranian. If you have to contradict me, please do it cleverly. Not like the official hasbara bigots of Zionist propaganda machine!!!

    Regarding all out Nuclear war, the US has the history of using nuclear armaments on Hiroshima and Nakasaki of Japan. No other country so far did. What I mentioned in my writing is a distant possibility for Israel to use it. Iran does not need a Nuclear weapon according to the Muslim faith.

    Your statement ” The acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran will certainly mean an attack [or attacks] against a city [or cities] of western nations” is itself idiotic. Iran did not attack any country for the last 300 years. Only a few people like you, knowing nothing about the history, tend to believe it purposefully.

    If you have the persistence and patience ( which is unlike for a people of your caliber), go through the authentic translation of President Ahmedinejad’s speech of “wiping out Israel from the face of the earth” to know the real meaning of the speech.

    It does not matter whether you mind or do not mind buying gas US$50 a gallon, others will mind. Ask your neighbor!!

    Last but not least, good news is number of idiots like you are going down day by day in media—– printed, electronic and specially in the net.

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