Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sanctions: not helping the US with the public in Iran

"We do have concerns about the situation in Iran. We’ve condemned the violence against those who are peacefully expressing their right to their political views. And we understand that there are some political challenges in Iran right now because of Iran’s refusal to respect the right of the people to express their views. You’ve heard what the President said that we’re – we have this offer on the table, this offer of engagement. At the same time, we have another track besides the engagement track, the track of pressure. As it becomes clearer that Iran is unable to make a positive response to this offer of engagement, we’re going to start looking more and more to the pressure track."
Ian Kelly, Department Spokesmen, U.S. State Department, December 11, 2009

Though dialogue hasn't perhaps gone to plan, it is hard to believe that anyone thought that simply by talking to Iran for a few minutes would end decades-long issues. Patience must be the highlighted virtue, as well as shedding old ideas such as sanctions.

What if we opened trade with Iran? If Obama continues to threaten non-effective sanctions we will only get the same results we’ve ever had. If he is truly “willing to go the extra mile with regard to diplomacy” as we’ve heard countless times (this particular quotation by Undersecretary Robert Wood during the November 20 State Dept briefing), then with that extra step we should be creative. By imposing sanctions we aren’t changing or stepping anywhere because there is little for us to take away until we give something first. Sanctions, such as the one to be discussed in Congress come January, can only create a rallying point against the United States in Iran.

If we lift sanctions and encourage bilateral trade, Iran, its people and economy would be able to see what the United States as less of a threat. Think of it: we could start a pistachio craze! Import amazing rugs! Trade probably wouldn’t start between the US and Iran, but our allies who have stood with us through years of unsuccessful sanctioning. This would allow not only their oil and gas markets to mend and even thrive, but can create trust on a multilateral level essential for peaceful negotiations. It will be these talks and agreements that will eventually allow the world to feel safer with Iran. No matter how much we speak of pressure, the United States should understand that there can't be instant results.

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