Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Hawkish Prick Towards Iran Caucus

I don't think the U.S. will go to war with Iran (see Prediction #1), but in the current American political climate there is no electoral down-side to being a hawkish prick towards Iran. I think that a lot of the pro-additional sanction faction don't want a war with Iran, but that's all the more reason they feel they need to take a hard line against the country, even though their hard line increases the chances that the current negotiations for a non-military resolution to the Iran nuclear issue will fail.

Put another way: the harsh sanction regime that is already in place was put there supposedly to bring Iran to the negotiating table over its nuclear program. It worked. They are at the negotiating table and willing to make concessions to their nuclear program in exchange for an easing of those sanctions. If the U.S. slaps on additional sanctions notwithstanding Iran's agreement to open its nuclear program to foreign monitors, then Iran will conclude that there is no point in reaching a nuclear agreement with the West because the West is not willing to give anything in return. It also may cause the U.S.'s European allies (who, unlike the U.S., did not cease doing business with Iran in the late 1970s and have a lot of commercial interests in the country that are harmed by the sanctions) to conclude that their own sanctions don't have any purpose if the U.S. blocks the chances of ever reaching a deal with Iran. So the EU countries could start relaxing their own sanctions, rendering the unilaterally imposed American sanctions pretty useless. The net result of the pro-sanction's side's efforts may be fewer economic pressures on Iran but without a nuclear deal.

Insisting upon new sanctions now is counter-productive. But this is not about productivity, it's about scoring political points by appearing tough on Iran. That has become an end in itself, even if it harms American interests in the long term.