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The Sanction Addicts Need a New Fix

Trump speaks at Washington rally against the Iran deal back in September 2015. Credit: Olivier Douliery/Sipa USA/Newscom

Mark Dubowitz of the poorly-named Foundation for Defense of Democracies predictably wants even more sanctions on Iran:

The U.S. could combine economic coercion, including driving Iranian oil exports to zero (as administration officials have promised to do), with greater support for Iranians, who have protested on the streets since December 2017.

Sanctions advocates are not known for making sense, so it is no wonder that Dubowitz proposes increasingly extensive economic warfare that will devastate the Iranian people while claiming to want to support them. Obviously, Dubowitz couldn’t care less about “supporting” the Iranian people. His only concern is trying to find a way to use them to achieve regime change, and he thinks that if the U.S. squeezes Iran hard enough they will do what he wants. Iran hawks view the Iranian people as a dispensable instrument to be exploited and then discarded when their goals have been achieved. Fortunately, the Iranian people aren’t going to cooperate, and that makes the hare-brained pursuit of regime change that much more absurd.

Not satisfied with the current policy of collective punishment, Dubowitz is arguing for additional sanctions that can be used to suffocate Iran. He talks up the option of designating the IRGC as a terrorist organization in the hope “that international companies would stay out of Iran” as a result. The ensuing suffering that would result from further deterioration in Iran’s economy does not concern him. On the contrary, he eagerly seeks it as a means to causing regime collapse:

That might cripple key sectors of the economy and lead to larger protests, similar to those that hit the shah in 1978 and 1979.

Dubowitz hopes that Trump will tie the hands of any future administration so that the next president won’t be able to provide Iran much in the way of sanctions relief. This confirms that supporters of Trump’s Iran policy have no interest in finding a “better” deal, but want to find any excuse they can to isolate and punish Iran no matter what. Needless to say, Iran’s government isn’t going to negotiate with a government that seeks to strangle and destroy them. Like every other ill-considered hawkish proposal for Iran, Dubowitz’s plan for piling on more sanctions won’t succeed, but they would cause great harm to the civilian population whose welfare he disingenuously claims to care about.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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