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?