Commentary Magazine


Contentions

Sanctions Charade

Yesterday I speculated that the Iran sanctions deal wouldn’t amount to much and would likely serve to afford the mullahs more time to advance their nuclear ambitions. Sadly, it seems that is precisely what is going on. This report explains: “Washington called the proposed list the toughest sanctions to date, but U.S. officials acknowledged they had to be softened in key areas to gain Russian and Chinese agreement.” Oh, and it’s not even clear whether China will support the U.S. or line up instead with the Brazil/Turkey gambit. What’s in the deal? Mush. We learn:

The proposed sanctions list includes a prohibition of sales on a wide range of conventional weapons—from fighter planes to missile systems—as well as a ban on countries from providing harbor to ships suspected of carrying contraband goods headed to Iran.

Overall they are significantly weaker than earlier drafts circulated by the administration. Many provisions contain loopholes allowing countries to evade their intent: They only urge, rather than require, countries to comply. …

U.S. officials acknowledged the new resolution alone was unlikely to halt Iran’s nuclear ambitions; instead, they said it could lead other countries to enact their own unilateral financial sanctions that could have more bite.

In other words, it’s all a charade. The list of sanctions doesn’t include petroleum, of course, which the U.S. took off the table to get agreement from Russia and China. The report includes a handy guide to what we asked for and what we got. And it’s startling, really, how embarrassingly little we got.

Now what? Will Congress move swiftly to pass, and Obama move with equal swiftness to sign and implement, unilateral sanctions? Or is that all too provocative? More important, the challenge now for Jewish groups is that they must decide whether to play along with Obama or call him out and vigorously oppose a ludicrously insufficient effort to stave off an existential threat to Israel. It is a critical juncture for these organizations and the time when they truly must decide: are they simply liberal cheerleaders or are they defenders of the Jewish state?