Angelo Codevilla’s recommendations for Iran policy are predictably ridiculous:
The agreement lifted Iran’s economy from its dire state. But the bulk of the new wealth has gone to weapons, foreign adventures, corruption and other inefficient investment bringing little benefit to the Iranian people. Were harsher sanctions to bite now, they might well produce a revolution.
All we need is sufficient courage to impose broad sanctions on a secondary basis. That is: no U.S. entity will be allowed to deal with any entity anywhere that deals with the sanctioned part of Iran’s economy – banking and money transfer, energy, food and all manner of parts for industrial equipment.
The first part of this is not true. Most of what little sanctions relief Iran has received has not gone to those other things, but has been spent on development and infrastructure. It has been a standard hawkish talking point for years that sanctions relief would be a “windfall” for Iran that would be used to fuel destructive policies throughout the region, but that hasn’t happened. Opponents of the nuclear deal have been consistent in misrepresenting what the consequences the deal would have, and they have frequently relied on false and misleading assertions to prop up their extremely weak arguments. Codevilla does the same here.
Imposing secondary sanctions on Iran’s trading partners would mean picking unnecessary fights with many of our most important allies and some of the world’s largest economies. It would be a self-defeating, harmful, unnecessary thing to do. On top of that, it wouldn’t have the desired effect. The idea that “harsher sanctions” would lead to a “revolution” is nonsense that has been discredited many times over the years. The more sanctioned and impoverished a country is, the weaker opposition to the regime becomes. In the meantime, the civilian population suffers from the effects of the sanctions that are supposed to goad them into overthrowing their own government.
Iranian civilians shouldn’t be punished with such sanctions in any case, but it is very likely that they would see new sanctions in the wake of the nuclear deal as an attack on their country and on them, and they would be right. They would not respond by bringing about the regime’s collapse as Codevilla expects, but would be much more likely to rally behind their government. Putting a country under severe economic sanctions in an attempt to force political change is a bankrupt and immoral policy, and it would be both cruel and stupid to try such a thing on Iran.