An End Run Around Our Iran Policy?


The New York Times reported that Russia joined the leaders of Turkey and Iran at a nuclear arms summit in Istanbul on Tuesday — not a good sign for the Obama administration’s Iran policy which is entirely dependent on support for sanctions from Russia and China. More worrisome were the comments from Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who expressed doubts about the UN Security Council sanctions resolution scheduled to be debated this week. “I hold the opinion that this resolution should not be unnecessary, should not put Iran’s leadership or the Iranian people into difficulty,” he said. Putin also warned against “excessive” measures on Iran.

The administration has believed for months that Russia — and China — would support some US-backed sanctions designed to further choke the ability of the leadership to conduct international business. And, indeed, the administration drafted the new round of sanctions with heavy input from (and sweet deals for) from Russia and China.

There were, of course, many reasons to be skeptical that any sanctions at this point would change Iran’s behavior or change it in time to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power. But even if you accept the Obama administration’s arguments on their own terms, if Russia backs off of its support for these modest new sanctions, it will be a dramatic diplomatic failure for Obama.

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  1. Profile Photo Member

    It seems so obvious that Russia and China see our pursuit of sanctions as an opportunity to inflict us with a thousand little humiliations, forcing us time and again to grovel–and not just grovel, but fecklessly grovel. My question for Stephen or anyone: Why oh why do we continue? I truly don’t understand. It simply cannot be the case that the Administration is this naive. Could they be setting up the we’ve-tried-everything-else justification for military action? That doesn’t seem likely either. Is their devotion to process so intense that the obvious result of that process ( a series of humiliations on the way to the ultimate humiliation–a nuclear Iran) is irrelevant? Weird.

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  2. Profile Photo Inactive

    Short of starting a third war, I’m not sure there’s much else we can do. We devote ourselves to the process because it can buy us time. Indeed, Iran was lumped in with the Axis of Evil back in 2002. Eight years of kicking the can down the road, and we’re still alive, no?

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  3. Profile Photo Editor

    That’s a good point, Harlech — we’ve been kicking the can down the road for 8 years. What’s a few years more? But I think Scott and Stephen have a more worrisome point, which is that the Obama administration has been groveling and begging China and Russia for support — and, let’s remember, actually betraying our allies to do so — and has come up empty.

    So, to recap: in 2 years, Obama has, they say, made us a lot more popular in the world. (He hasn’t, but let’s grant them that.) But he’s also made us a lot less effective. A lot less respected, or, let’s just say it: a lot less feared. And if there’s a difference between “fear” and “respect” I’m not sure I know what it is.

    I don’t think we made the right exchange.

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