Commentary Magazine


Contentions

Getting Clear on Iran

Law professor Orde F. Kittrie suggests that, if Barack Obama can convince Europe to stop selling gasoline to Iran, the U.S. will finally have an advantage in dealing with Tehran:

Tehran has an economic Achilles’ heel — its extraordinarily heavy dependence on imported gasoline. This dependence could be used by the United States to peacefully create decisive leverage over the Islamic Republic.

Iranian oil wells produce far more petroleum (crude oil) than Iran needs. Yet, remarkably for a country investing so much in nuclear power, Iran has not developed sufficient capacity to refine that crude oil into gasoline and diesel fuel. As a result, it must import some 40% of the gasoline it needs for internal consumption.

Kittrie is exactly right. If his suggestion is heeded, it will give Americans much-needed clarity on three fronts. First: What kind of leader is Barack Obama? Moving to ratchet up international pressure on Iran, and asking European industrialists to risk taking a hit for what is widely seen as an American/Israeli problem, would be a bold out-of-the-gates move for a young first-term president who ran on a platform of parity among nations. Is Obama willing to spare, in the service of furthering U.S. interests, some of the global affection that up until now has served merely to advance his political popularity?

Second, does the world’s adoration for Barack Obama translate into strategic reality? Will European gas companies be more willing to cut off a portion of their clientèle because the persuader speaks a more international language than his predecessor? Or will considerations of profit and stability prevail as they have in the past? The EU has failed to act in accordance with the weaker Iranian sanctions they’ve already agreed to uphold. European exports to Iran, in fact, rose by 17.8 percent in the first few months after the supposedly stiffer sanction regime was put in place. Will Barack Obama be able to tap into hitherto unseen reserves of European sacrifice and fortitude?

Third, is there really a way to derail Iran, short of the military option? Will this sweeping ban bring the mullahs to the table to discuss the possibility of abandoning their nuclear program, or will they forge ahead with enrichment and missile construction, and stir up further anti-Americanism among their people by blaming gas shortages on the cruel, hypocritical Americans? Ayatollah Ali Khamenei recently said, “Negotiations with the United States would have no benefit for us, and we do not need them.” Mehdi Kalhor, Iranian Vice President for Media Affairs, said that that “as long as U.S. forces have not left the Middle East region and continues its support for the Zionist regime, talks between Iran and U.S. is off the agenda.” Will a regime founded on the idea of bringing down America and her allies, a regime that thought nothing of using its citizens in waves as human mine-detectors in the Iran-Iraq War, be persuaded to see things America’s way simply because its subjects will go without sufficient gas supplies?

Kittrie’s suggestion is an excellent one. Americans need a fuller understanding of our leader, our allies, and our enemy. Only then can the domestic conflict and hysteria over attacking Iran subside, and make way for informed and reasoned debate. Time was short a year ago, so it’s even shorter now. This should be President Obama’s first foreign policy priority.



Join the discussion…

Are you a subscriber? Log in to comment »

Not a subscriber? Join the discussion today, subscribe to Commentary »





Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.