Does Anyone Believe An Already Hobbled Iran Won’t Blink?

by Ryan Sanford Smith

A rather strange article here that, among other things, feels the need in its headline to articulate that there would be ‘downsides’ to sanctions against Iran’s oil exports and  doesn’t seem to make the connection that such sanctions targeted specifically at Iran’s oil market wouldn’t fall into the realm of ‘economic sanctions’, which is apparently what ‘some analysts’ (oh convenient, lazy ambiguity) cite as preferable.

More importantly it evinces further sweat on the brow of many that seem to be erring toward superfluous caution towards Iran based explicitly on the inevitable effects on the price of gasoline at home. Implied here is a sort of hostage situation where those urging continued caution–a code word, it seems here, for appeasement–where Iran stands ready with a gun that only shoots rubber bullets. That is all to say, they can’t kill us, they can only make us uncomfortable with the only thing they have to bargain with, and they’re trying to keep us uncomfortable enough that we leave them alone while they work towards a real gun with real bullets. Their logic seems to be that we will be in a dangerous situation when the world’s leading madman gets the most destructive force ever known at his fingertips, but golly at least gas will stay under four dollars a gallon.

I have some empathy here–this logic appeals to what we know of the general American temperament, which certainly reinforces the notion that Iran is quite far away and they haven’t got The Bomb -yet-, so the capricious lethality that awaits a nuclear Iran doesn’t feel nearly as concrete or pressing as soaring gas prices during economic turmoil.

The problem is that if we wait for the former to become concrete, thus causing the latter to shrink in scale by comparison, it’ll most likely already be too late to do anything about it. We have to operate with a longer-term landscape in mind or we’ll very surely be facing a world where  long-term existence itself becomes questionable–when one cannot assume a future awaits while standing in such a destabilized global community with nuclear arsenals becoming more common rather than less so.

Meanwhile, the United States naval presence in the region that Iran continues to decry with growing desperation and empty threats has been generous enough to rescue 13 Iranian sailors and their vessel from pirates in the Arabian Sea. Apparently while Iran continues to say they could easily shut down shipping lanes through the Strait of Hormuz, one can only assume that they could even more easily protect their own sailors from some high-sea miscreants but for some reason have chosen not to.