The President has made it clear that while he would like to work with Iran, he feels that declaring war is the best way to achieve that goal. Make no mistake, sanctions are economic warfare – a tactic that can have even more devastating and long-term impacts than missiles. This could have been a potentially strong tactic if it was part of a broader strategy. However, there clearly seems to be no plan and no real preparation for handling the aftermath at our feet. Any plan of this nature should have anticipated several scenarios, including an attack on a U.S. military base – something even cable news pundits discussed as a possibility. We owe it to the brave men, women, and families of the armed forces to take escalations like this seriously and with forethought. The current call for sanctions is going to be difficult to enforce and is ultimately a lazy attempt to deliver on an ill-conceived campaign promise.
Crippling sanctions can be a tool in war, one that can serve to drive a regime to an outcome, however, sanctions only work when everyone is on board. With the sanctions under the Bush and Obama administrations, there was a global understanding that the sanctions were necessary. As such, everyone abided by them in dealing with Iran and thus made the sanctions effective. Iran eventually came to the negotiating table and agreed to an equally effective deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Such examples of global cooperation are rare and, unfortunately under this administration, now unlikely. All this means that the new round of sanctions, following actions that have earned global condemnation, will likely be impotent. The administration, and its supporters in Congress, have alienated almost every one of our allies, and have ensured that those allies are hesitant about enforcing sanctions against Iran. All Iran has to do is go find one of a handful of countries willing to buck the sanctions to make money. If Iran doesn’t need to worry about American sanctions, we are once again weakened on a global stage. These are now all real possibilities given how much we have isolated ourselves over the last few years.
Broad diplomatic strategy and planning are things this country needs. These sanctions are short-sighted and will only hurt the common man and woman in Iran, not the regime in power. In the wake of World War II, the United States and its allies crossed a Soviet blockade and dropped food, fuel, and other supplies to Germans in Berlin. These Germans were our enemies just three years prior, and yet, we felt a commitment to our common humanity and appealed directly to the people in the shadow of a tyrannical government. We can once again win over the people of Iran and at the same time hurt a tyrannical regime by supporting democracy movements and the common Iranian citizen. These sanctions will not accomplish that goal. An understanding of consequences and how the world will react to actions are necessary, not just so we can be most effective with our actions, but so we can stay ahead of our adversaries and rebuild our reputation. This is the way we once again become the shining city on the hill; this is the way we keep our young men and women from being deployed on a whim; and this is the way we can eventually work with Iran – something the President and the Republican party continually claim they would like to do.
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