Is President Obama’s sanctions relief for Iran working? It depends on one’s perspective. From the perspective of those who hope to see a deal that would prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, the answer is no.
Predictably enough, nothing has been accomplished on that front. As Michael Rubin says, the sanctions relief was the diplomatic equivalent of giving a five-year-old dessert first and then expecting him to eat his spinach.
But from the perspective of those who want a strengthen the Iranian regime, clearly sanctions relief is working. Iran reports:
Iran’s gas exports rose by 258 percent after signing the deal with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany in November. Iran’s gas exports earnings totaled $10.295 billion in 2013, raising by 15.93 percent.
This, of course, is great news for a regime that, according to its own numbers, had seen its economy contract by 5.4 percent in the year prior to the start of Obama’s preliminary talks with Iran.
Michael Rubin puts the new gas export numbers in perspective:
If the official budget of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is around $5 billion per year, then Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have effectively bought that terrorist group two years for free.
Again, these results were predictable. According to Rubin, between 2000 and 2005 the European Union more than doubled trade with Iran in order to encourage reform. Approximately 70 percent of that hard currency windfall was injected directly into Iran’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs.
What is the Obama administration’s perspective on sanctions. Does it want to reach a deal that would prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons or does it want to strengthen the Iranian regime?
The answer, I think, is yes. Ideally, Obama would rather Iran not develop nuclear weapons. But he reognizes that Iran’s nuclear quest can’t be stopped by any measures he’s willing to countenance.
Obama’s main objective is to work his way into the good graces of the regime. He sees Iran as the dominant regional power — the strong horse, if you will — and hopes the regime will become his partner is stabilizing the region.
Obama’s aspiration is delusional, but no more so than his (and John Kerry’s) effort to cast Assad’s Syria in the role of Middle East peace broker.
For almost a century, the American left has cast its country as a worldwide bad actor, if not villain, while ascribing virtue and, at times, almost magical powers to America’s enemies. Barack Obama fits comfortably in this tradition.