US-Iran Sanctions Review


US-Iran Sanctions Review
by bahmani

Originally posted on //

Thanks to the US press (and NIAC) we have all been pretty much confused by what everyone knows as the US Sanctions against Iran.

It's partially NIAC's fault because in spite of NIAC's failure to properly manage it's own PR, they have been very rightly objecting to the efficacy of the sanctions and pointing out that sanctions haven't been hurting the intended targets, the higher ups pulling the strings in Tehran's daily puppet show, with 2 matinees for the kids on the weekends.

Sanctions are only making life inside Iran even harder for innocent, every-day Iranians, than it already is. Harder meaning that if everyday Iranians' lives are too hard, then how on earth can they have time to object and protest their government's misdeeds?
Certainly this could be one explanation of Iran's lack of participation in any of this Arab Spring's festivities.

The US press is at fault because underpaid, internet bloggers turned reporter, haven't been competent or able to frame the issue for proper consumption, and even more importantly, digestion.

Old-school journalists like Stephen Kinzer and Thomas Friedman are too busy desperately trying to leverage and cash in what's left of their tenure at fast disappearing dinosaurs like the NY Times, and the Wall Street Journal- well let me declare the Murdoch owned WSJ dead as of right now.

Kinzer is trying to tone down his teen-age exuberance in "uncovering" the now all too obvious flaw in US foreign policy during 1953, and re-market his 2003 Book "All The Shah's Men", which one might think and intellectually justify as a trite play on words as well as the Pulitzer Prize winning novel "All the King's Men", but actually reads more like the nursery rhyme Humpty Dumpty. I'd review Kinzer's cool iPad comic book adaptation of the same book, or "Operation Ajax" but it's been 10 weeks now and issue #6 (out of 12?) is still not out yet. Maybe you can't sell an old story that's been told too many times?

Friedman although smart enough for the task, is either too busy solving the unsolvable Israeli-Palestinian problem with ridiculous vague concepts and ideas like "can't we all just get along?", or coming up with overly simplistic single paragraph "everyman" answers to what caused the global economic meltdown, or touting what great mileage the Toyota Prius gets if you drive it under 12 miles per hour.

Neither of these behemoths though, has anything really insightful or even inciteful to say about US sanctions on Iran and how they haven't worked since 1979. As they get ready to take their individual "long plunge" when they and print are finally declared dead, buried by their inability to either get never mind figure out how to use FaceBook, probably sometime after the iPad 3 is released.

So let's break the habit of avoiding the boring and at least list all (or most) of the US Sanctions against Iran:

1979 - In response to the hostage taking, the US froze as much as $12 Billion in Iranian assets in overseas banks. To date $10 Billion is still frozen, pending Iran's "legal claims". Or inability to provide proper ID.

1984 - In response to Iran being attacked by Iraq, the US imposed sanctions prohibiting the sale of weapons to Iran during the Iran-Iraq war. The longest running war of the 20th century during which over 1 million people died on both sides. Over 70 countries sold arms to both sides of this war which featured the use of and proved positively the existence of chemical weapons of mass destruction by Iraq. After Japan, Iran is second among countries suffering the most casualties from weapons of mass destruction. In one nerve gas attack alone, over 20,000 Iranian soldiers died instantly. In 1986 when the UN condemned Iraq for using chemical weapons against Iran, the only country that refused to sign the condemnation was the US, the America of then second term Reagan.

1987 - The US expanded the 1984 sanctions to impose a full embargo on import or export of all goods from or to Iran.

1995 - During the Rafsanjani presidency, Bill Clinton imposed a total embargo on Iran. After the Iran-Iraq war trade had been slowly growing between Iran and the US. This shut that down completely.

1996 - The US congress passed the Iran-Libya Sanctions act (ILSA) which prohibited any oil development activities or investment with Iran and Libya, making it hard to impossible for Iran and Libya to repair their aging oil production facilities, most of which were built by American oil production companies.

2000 - In response to the moderate presidency of Khatami, Clinton relaxed the embargo a bit, allowing pharmaceuticals, medicines, and the export of Iranian caviar, pistachios, handicrafts, and oriental rugs. The Iranian pistachio industry which is traditionally and notoriously controlled by the Rafsanjani family, and having many industrial as well as food uses in the world, turned the Rafsanjanis into instant overnight billionaires when Clinton released Pistachios from the embargo. In 2003 Forbes magazine put Rafsanjani on the cover as one of the world's richest men.

2005 - In response to the Ahmadinejad presidency and his re-ignition of Iran's nuclear development program, the US barred Iranian banks from any sort of US transactions, and began to push for wider UN sanctions against Iran.

2008 - The US and UK targeted Iranian banks it claimed were funneling money to terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah, and froze over $1 Billion in the UK and over $2 Billion in the US.

2010 - UN Security Council passed resolution 12-2 against Iran for it's unclear nuclear intentions.

2010- The US House and Senate passed the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions and Accountability and Divestment Act which reinforced the past embargoes and put caviar, rugs and Pistachios back on the no go list.

So, what good have these extensive acts and issued policies and rules and regulations been?

Other than give NIAC something super easy and no-brainer to object to, not much. Prices for a normal life inside Iran have merely gone up. The effect of this on the average Iranian's faith and trust in the good intentions of the US, about the same as always or medium-rare. As is always the case, corrupt politicians, and their unscrupulous business counterparts both inside Iran and the US always seem to find ways to sneak past the regulations intended to stop the very no-good activities they are up to.

While you and I might not be able to bring in a Persian carpet, and Boeing may not be able to sell Iran Air much needed spare airplane parts, Coca Cola however still flows. Iran has even upgraded itself to regional distributor, bottling, and selling Coke to over 30 countries in the Gulf. And you can bet the Iranian Managing Director is connected enough up the chain to be making the killing.

In short, making the entire class stay in during recess, has rarely caught any Iranian brats. Especially this policy is stupid when we already know exactly who the brats are. In spite of everything that the CIA has flubbed, following the money is one thing they are actually really really really good at.

Certainly, a simpler way it seems, would be to give up trying to use sanctions that penalize everyone, especially US businesses like Boeing who took an order taking beating by AirBus last week, and the US dominance in oil production technology, that could especially use the boost that Iranian market could offer these days, as a way to catch the bad guys in Iran, and much like the freezing of Iran's bank assets abroad, do the same for specific individuals, easily specified.

It may be a bit harder given the Swiss and West Indies banks who have made an art out of anonymous accounts, but each corrupt highly placed Iranian official that gets nabbed, will be one less corrupt highly placed Iranian official that gets away, and blatantly repeatedly plundering Iran's vast treasure happens to be illegal inside Iran too. Catch and release the top 40 and you get far more than just a grateful nation's wrath going.

The impact of normalizing US-Iran trade and removing the embargo, cuts both ways. As much as the US may not want to appear to reward Iran's top brats by lifting the embargo, so too does Iran worry about the effect that a flood of shiny new-car smelling American products into Iran might have on Iran's role as the perpetual martyr in a sappy Sondheim Broadway play. Even if the US gave up on the sanctions it has imposed on Iran, it is not clear that Iran's leaders can afford to allow it to happen.

Opening up Iran also opens the doors for that which shall not be named, or that other Great American Export, namely the democracy that a capitalist free market demands and commands, and the overwhelming infection of freedom that results, whenever anyone discovers how choosing which products you want to buy yourself, tastes. Freedom at any level, expands way beyond the initial thing.

Giving Iranians an un-sanctioned free choice to buy American, may in fact give Iranians far more to buy than just "American Products". It could very well lead to buying the entire and whole American catalog of other "American Products".

Or think of it as contracting WalMart to bomb Iran with affordably priced, Chinese made, consumer products.


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