from LobeLog: News and Views Relevant to U.S.-Iran relations for October 21st, 2010:
The Washington Post: Glenn Kessler reports that Iran is increasingly unable to conduct â€œnormal bankingâ€ activities due to the sanctions, and is attempting to set up banking operations in such Muslim countries as Iraq and Malaysia â€œusing dummy names and opaque ownership structures.â€ For their alleged support of Iranâ€™s nuclear program, the U.S. Treasury has blacklisted 16 Iranian banks. Matthew Levitt, director of the counterterrorism and intelligence program at the hawkish Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) told Kessler that â€œthe banking operations, even if successfully created in other countries, are likely to be small-scale and insufficient to make up for the volume of banking activity Iran has lost.â€
The National Interest: Ken Pollack, the director of Brookingsâ€™s Mid East Center, reviews the Obama administrationâ€™s Iran policy and concludes that â€œit is working, but it probably isnâ€™t going to work.â€ He says an airstrike on Iranâ€™s nuclear program â€” â€œand launching air strikes will be warâ€ â€” will rally people to the government, justify an Iranian nuclear deterrent to further attack, cause Iran to withdraw from the NPT (meaning the world will be in the dark), and bring condemnations of the U.S. from the world. Following a lengthy analysis of U.S. policy options, he ends with thoughts on containment. He writes that given Iran belief that it can outlast sanctions, the United States and the international community needs to build â€œan aggressive new containment regime that Iran cannot possibly outlast. Like North Korea, Iran would not be allowed to enjoy any benefit from its acquisition of a nuclear capability or even a nuclear arsenal.â€
The National Interest: Georgetown professor and former CIA officer Paul Pillar responds to Pollackâ€™s article and disagrees that â€œpressure and more pressureâ€ is the best way of dealing with Iranâ€™s nuclear program. Pillar raises the question of why the Iranian nuclear program is such a preoccupation for the United States and whether assumptions about Iranian irrationality have any grounding in reality or are reflected in Iranâ€™s record of behavior. Pillar also disputes the argument that a strategy of deterrence has â€œno guarantees of successâ€ and â€œfailure is invariably catastrophicâ€ is reason enough to pressure Iran. â€œâ€¦[T]o make that observation as an argument for not tolerating someone elseâ€™s nuclear force would mean not only dismissing a lot of Cold War history but also throwing up our arms in despair over nuclear deterrence relationships that we continue to have to this day with the likes of Russia and China,â€ he contends.