Hagel's ridiculous position on Iran sanctionsinexplicable (Hat Tip: Noah P).
Recently, President Obama signed new Iran sanctions into law as part of the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act – the fourth round of Iran sanctions signed into law by the President since 2010. During the campaign and throughout his presidency, Obama has touted the viability of U.S. sanctions. Last year, the president in writing told the American Jewish Committee: “Today, because of concrete steps that I and my Administration have taken, Iran is under greater pressure and more isolated than ever. We have led the international community in putting in place the toughest and most comprehensive sanctions in history on Iran.”
This view has been echoed again and again by David Cohen, the U.S. Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, who was chiefly responsible for imposing the U.S. sanctions.
In Hagel’s view, we shouldn’t have passed any of these sanctions and the entire Senate was wrong. Or perhaps is it Hagel who is so very wrong? It is hard to argue that the sanctions haven’t severely harmed Iran’s economy, including its crude oil exports and its banking system. It would be one thing if Hagel were arguing from the right that sanctions will never work and we should skip right to the threat and use of military action. But of course that isn’t his view. Moreover, he can’t argue that when he voted repeatedly against sanctions in the Senate that we were ignoring international sanctions. In fact, President George W. Bush pursued and obtain four separate sets of international sanctions.
Hagel also misunderstands how we work with allies. Going to the United Nations over and over again for meager results is — as we’ve seen with Syria – useless. However, when the United States act, our allies normally follow. On March 15, 2012, the European Union ordered Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) to expel designated Iranian banks from the SWIFT financial communications network. Dozens of Iranian institutions were impacted. One congressional staffer with extensive experience in sanctions legislation says, “This action was taken in response to an amendment passed by the Senate Banking Committee to authorize U.S. sanctions on board members of entities like SWIFT that provide such services to designated Iranian banks.” Had we not acted, the EU would not have either.Well, yeah. But the real question is why, if there is such a fundamental difference between Obama and Hagel over something as basic as whether to sanction Iran, why is Obama nominating Hagel to be Secretary of Defense? And the answer is that there isn't such a fundamental difference. Hagel embodies the true, unfiltered Obama.
Recall, for example, that Obama opposed the Kirk-Menendez sanctions that were eventually passed 100-0 by the Senate in December 2011, and that even once they were approved he tried to weaken them.
Why did Obama nominate Hagel? Because Hagel is the unfiltered Obama. And that's something that ought to arouse fear in all Americans.
Four years and six days to go....