Saturday, 29 December 2012

Iran Live Coverage: Cheerleading for Sanctions

0630 GMT: We open with a bit of sanctions symbolism from Washington. 

On Friday, President Obama signed the Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act, which gives the State Department 180 days to put forth a plan to "address Iran's growing hostile presence and activity" in Latin America.

The Act is unlikely to lead to a notable change in US policy and operations. Instead, it is hype --- complete with injunctions to bolster surveillance at US borders with Canada and Mexico to "prevent operatives from Iran, the IRGC [Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps], its Quds Force, Hezbollah, or any other terrorist organization from entering the United States" and to enact mesaures for "counterterrorism and counter-radicalisation" --- to keep the notion of Iranian threat front-and-centre.

The real significance of that hype is that it helps to justify the restrictions that are already in place, far beyond Latin America, to choke off Iran's economic and financial activities. Consider another article on Friday, Reuters' "Special Report: Inside the West's Economic War with Iran".

The ostensible purpose of the special, written by three of the news agency's top reporters and with contributions from four others, is to give the reader an in-depth look at the Obama Administration's move to sweeping sanctions from early 2011.

But make no mistake: this is also a lengthy tribute to the craft and wisdom of President Obama's officials, an economic adaptation of a Boys' Own tale of soldiers and warfare. It opens with the supposed drama of "the intense diplomatic maneuvering...to enact the sanctions without causing an oil shock" and continues with narrative of the Obama Administration's negotiations with the US Congress --- ""The debate...was over means, not ends" --- and with the Europeans and Arab States.

So what's missing? Well, just for starters, any notion that the sanctions could have been avoided. The article's choice of starting point is also the establishment of blame: "The final straw that made oil sanctions possible was a January 2011 diplomatic blow-up in Turkey."

That arbitrary selection ignores, as an important example, the Administration's decision in spring 2010 to reject the Tehran Declaration of Iran, Brazil, and Turkey --- a Declaration which would have given stricter limits on Iran's uranium enrichment than what the US is hoping to achieve 2 1/2 years later --- in favour of sanctions through the United Nations Security Council.

So while the article sets up continuing dramatic tension --- "There's no evidence yet the pressure has had its desired effect: to convince Iran to stop spinning the centrifuges to enrich uranium that could be used in a nuclear bomb" --- that tension only serves the conclusion: Must Try Harder:

The sanctions, deliberately crafted in years past to avoid widespread harm to the Iranian people, are now causing real pain....

"We've imposed the toughest sanctions in history," Obama told reporters the week after his re-election, saying he would again try to open a dialogue with Iran. "I can't promise that Iran will walk through the door."

from EA WorldView: EA Iran

Posted via email from lissping