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Friday, June 11, 2010

The worst of all worlds

A Jerusalem Post editorial is highly critical of the weak sanctions passed by the United Nations on Wednesday.
Breaking and evading these sanctions ought to be a breeze for Ahmedinejad. A full year after Iran’s deceptive elections, which spurred countrywide demonstrations, he may be less popular but his position is stable. After the regime brutally quashed his opposition, it is very doubtful that stunted sanctions will destabilize his hold on power.

None of that will moderate his vehement anti-sanctions rhetoric. Ahmedinejad is putting on an extravagant spectacle of anger and outrage. Domestically, he derives much psychological benefit from appearing like the beleaguered patriotic warrior, facing off against the Zionist-lackey West.

Today’s resourceful and emboldened Iran is a very different entity from the pariah state
it was just a year ago, when credible sanctions would have been far more effective. Teheran has shielded its crucial interests from financial restrictions and its newly bolstered alliances may be valuable in deflecting pressure. The international community missed its best opportunity to apply economic pressure during 2009’s post-election unrest. In the interim, Iran has contracted game-changing deals and made strides toward self-sufficiency.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may speak of Wednesday’s package representing “the most significant sanctions that Iran has ever faced.” But Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has been warning against “excessive” measures lest they cause “hardship” in Iran. The subtext is that Russian and Chinese commerce with Iran will proceed all but unhindered.

Wednesday’s sanctions, then, are not the antidote to the Iranian nuclear threat that Israel had hoped for and that the free world so badly needs.

In some ways, they may even exacerbate Israel’s predicament. They will lend the appearance of an international mobilization to curb Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions, but in actuality will achieve nothing – the worst of all worlds.
How long will Netanyahu wait for these farcical sanctions to play out? What could go wrong?


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