An Op-Ed by CLW Board Member Jim Walsh was recently posted on the New York Times “Room for Debate” blog discussing whether sanctions against Iran have actually been working. Here’s an excerpt:
Today, like most days, talk about Iran is talk about sanctions. Politicians and policymakers are drawn to sanctions because they offer an alternative to the unpleasant choice of war or surrender. Sanctions are also good politics, especially with a regime whose president questions the Holocaust and whose recent election brought both protesters and prison sentences. No one wants to start another war in the region, and sanctions provide the satisfaction of “doing something.”
But will they work? Will they force Iran to abandon its nuclear program? Research on the effect of sanctions is difficult to assess, but some scholars conclude that sanctions work about half the time. They are most effective when applied over a long period of time on small countries that are dependent on the outside world. Iran is a big country with oil, and it can build centrifuges faster than the international community can impose sanctions. The Islamic Republic is also a proud country, the kind for which sanctions are as likely to elicit defiance, as they are cooperation. Indeed, the Islamic Republic has been under one kind of sanction or another since its founding 30 years ago. Any objective assessment would have to conclude that sanctions have completely failed to alter Iran’s nuclear policy. […]
Read the rest of Jim Walsh’s post and other expert opinions about continuing sanctions against Iran at the NYT Room for Debate blog.