Commentary Magazine


Time for a Post-Failure Iran Policy

In Today’s Wall Street Journal, John Bolton explains why economic sanctions will not persuade Tehran to abandon their nuclear ambitions:

Existing sanctions have doubtless caused some pain, but Iran’s real economic woes stem from nearly 30 years of mismanagement by the Islamic Revolution.

In other words, the fundamental diplomatic tool being applied to Tehran is fundamentally broken. We cannot take away from Iran what they do not have. The economic disaster engendered by the Khomeini revolution is more staggering than most people realize. According to the CIA’s World Fact Book, forty percent of Iranians live below the poverty level. Oil production has fallen by at least a third since the revolution and any profits are shared only within the regime. According to Iran Focus, the country’s inflation rate is rising ten times faster than its national growth, and the average price of household goods has increased by twenty percent in the last year.

Moreover, the mullahs aren’t terribly concerned with the viability of Iran as a state at all. In the words of the revolution’s founder, Ayatollah Khomeini:

We do not worship Iran, we worship Allah. For patriotism is another name for paganism. I say let this land [Iran] burn. I say let this land go up in smoke, provided Islam emerges triumphant in the rest of the world.

Yet, here we are. Broken sticks, no carrots left. As Bolton says,

Thus, instead of debating how much longer to continue five years of failed diplomacy, we should be intensively considering what cooperation the U.S. will extend to Israel before, during and after a strike on Iran.

We need to start hearing from our candidates on this question.