Right Web

Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

Why WaPo Gets the Iran Sanctions Fight Wrong

In a recent editorial, the Washington Post tacitly endorsed Congress’ push for additional sanctions on Iran while failing to make clear to its readers all the risks this poses.

Print Friendly

LobeLog

With the fight over whether to pile on more Iran sanctions heating up in D.C., the Washington Post has weighed in. It will not come as a surprise to regular readers of the editorial board that the paper is holding its usual liberal-hawk line: the editors tacitly endorse Congress’s push for more pressure on Iran.

Their reasoning is two-fold. The latter argument has to do with the imprisoned Post Tehran correspondent, Jason Rezaian, whom I consider a friend as well as an exemplary colleague. By the Post‘s lights, Jason’s ordeal is a provocation and an attempt to use the Iranian-American reporter as a pawn in the nuclear talks. Though that fact has not been established, it is, as the Post editors note, a conclusion that is difficult to escape. Let me, then, add my voice again to the chorus calling for Jason’s unconditional release from unjust imprisonment.

The problem with the Post‘s editorial, however, arises from the line it draws from Jason’s detention and other alleged Iranian provocations—namely, the announcement of plans to build two more nuclear plants—to Congress’s proposed sanctions. “If tactics such as that,” writes the Post, “do not ruin the chance of an agreement, then neither should action by Congress.”

Except that the proposed Congressional action would be a direct affront to the twice-extended interim deal struck between Iran and world powers in November 2013. That deal, known as the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA), calls on the U.S. and its partners—France, the U.K., Russia, China and Germany, the so-called P5+1—to “pause efforts to further reduce Iran’s crude oil sales.” And yet the new sanctions proposed by hawkish senators would precisely be an effort in this direction—while neither Jason’s detention nor the new nuclear facilities would violate the letter of the deal (as the Post itself acknowledges in the latter case). That’s why President Obama has already threatened to veto new sanctions legislation.

“The logic of that argument has always been a little hard to follow, since the measure the Senate is likely to take up,” the Post comments, “would mandate new sanctions only if Iran failed to accept an agreement by the June 30 deadline established in the ongoing talks.” The editors go on to note that, in the face of Iran’s actions, “the Obama administration argues that countervailing pressure would somehow be a deal breaker.”

But this is not the Obama administration’s argument: it is the Iranians’. Foreign Minister Javad Zarif was clear on this way back in December 2013, when the journalist Robin Wright, for an interview in Time Magazine, asked, “What happens if Congress imposes new sanctions, even if they don’t go into effect for six months?” Zarif was unequivocal: “The entire deal is dead.”

Perhaps the Post editors think, more than a year later, that this paradigm no longer applies. Or maybe they think the Iranians are bluffing. Either way, it’s dishonest by omission to pretend that Obama’s reticence to see new sanctions emanates from some unfounded overabundance of caution, rather than the on-the-record responses of Iran’s top negotiator to precisely the question of delayed-trigger sanctions.

The Post owes it to its readers to make this issue in the ongoing sanctions fight clear. And the editorial board ought to come out and say it if they don’t think the Iranians’ threat to back out of talks is serious—and then lay out all the attendant risks of calling their bluff.

As for Jason’s plight, his fate may be unjustly tied to the nuclear talks, but prematurely killing diplomacy certainly won’t help secure his freedom.

Share RightWeb

Featured Profiles

The Foreign Policy Initiative, founded in 2009 by a host of neoconservative figures, was a leading advocate for a militaristic and Israel-centric U.S. foreign policies.


Billionaire investor Paul Singer is the founder and CEO of the Elliott Management Corporation and an important funder of neoconservative causes.


Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is known for his hawkish views on foreign policy and close ties to prominent neoconservatives.


Ron Dermer is the Israeli ambassador to the United States and a close confidante of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.


Blackwater Worldwide founder Erik Prince is notorious for his efforts to expand the use of private military contractors in conflict zones.


U.S. Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis is a retired U.S Marine Corps general and combat veteran who served as commander of U.S. Central Command during 2010-2013 before being removed by the Obama administration reportedly because of differences over Iran policy.


Mark Dubowitz, an oft-quoted Iran hawk, is the executive director of the neoconservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies.


For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

From the Wires

Print Friendly

The time has come for a new set of partnerships to be contemplated between the United States and Middle East states – including Iran – and between regimes and their peoples, based on a bold and inclusive social contract.


Print Friendly

Erik Prince is back. He’s not only pitching colonial capitalism in DC. He’s huckstering ex-SF-led armies of sepoys to wrest Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya and perhaps, if he is ever able to influence likeminded hawks in the Trump administration, even Iran back from the infidels.


Print Friendly

Encouraged by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s statement late last month that Washington favors “peaceful” regime change in Iran, neoconservatives appear to be trying to influence the internal debate by arguing that this is Trump’s opportunity to be Ronald Reagan.


Print Friendly

When asked about “confidence in the U.S. president to do the right thing in world affairs,” 22 percent of those surveyed as part of a recent Pew Research Center global poll expressed confidence in Donald Trump and 74 percent expressed no confidence.


Print Friendly

A much-awaited new State Department volume covering the period 1951 to 1954 does not reveal much new about the actual overthrow of Mohammad Mossadeq but it does provide a vast amount of information on US involvement in Iran.


Print Friendly

As debate continues around the Trump administration’s arms sales and defense spending, am new book suggests several ways to improve security and reduce corruption, for instance by increasing transparency on defense strategies, including “how expenditures on systems and programs align with the threats to national security.”


Print Friendly

Lobelog We walked in a single file. Not because it was tactically sound. It wasn’t — at least according to standard infantry doctrine. Patrolling southern Afghanistan in column formation limited maneuverability, made it difficult to mass fire, and exposed us to enfilading machine-gun bursts. Still, in 2011, in the Pashmul District of Kandahar Province, single…


RightWeb
share