Jim Kouri
US faces tragic consequences with Iran
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By Jim Kouri
June 15, 2009

Whenever faced with a rogue nation, the United States more often than not bends to the will of the United Nations or other entity that favors economic sanctions. This holds true for the current Administration of President Barack Obama.

With the recent testing of missiles by the Iranian military, the world has been put on notice that this Islamofascist nation will continue to be the fly in the ointment for world peace.The United States National Security Strategy recently acknowledged that the US faces challenges from Iran, including Iran's proliferation efforts and involvement in international terrorism.

To address these concerns, the United States employs a range of tools, including diplomatic pressure, a military presence in the Gulf, and economic sanctions. A U.S. sanction is a unilateral restriction or condition on economic activity imposed by the United States for reasons of foreign policy or national security. However, many security experts question the effectiveness of economic sanctions when nations such as Russia, China and others ignore them and in fact capitalize on them for their own benefit.

The US Congress requested that analysts from the Government Accountability Office review sanctions targeting Iran and their implementation, sanction impacts, and factors limiting sanctions. To conduct the review, the GAO analysts assessed trade and sanction data, information on Iran's economy and energy sector, and US and international reports on Iran. These GAO investigators also discussed sanctions with US officials and Iran experts.

Since 1987, US agencies have implemented numerous sanctions against Iran. First, Treasury oversees a ban on trade and investment with Iran and filed over 94 civil penalty cases between 2003 and 2007 against companies violating the prohibition. This ban may be circumvented by shipping US goods to Iran through other countries.

Second, the State Department administers laws that sanction foreign parties engaging in proliferation or terrorism-related activities with Iran. Under one law, the Department of State imposed sanctions in 111 instances against Chinese, North Korean, Syrian, and Russian entities.

Third, the Treasury and State Departments can use financial sanctions to freeze the assets of targeted parties and reduce their access to the US financial system. US government officials report that so far the sanctions have slowed foreign investment in Iran's petroleum sector, denied parties involved in Iran's proliferation and terrorism activities access to the US financial system, and provided a clear statement of US concerns to the rest of the world.

However, other evidence raises questions about the extent of impact on Iran. Since 2003, the Iranian government has signed contracts reported at about $20 billion with foreign firms to develop its energy resources. Further, sanctioned Iranian banks may fund their activities in currencies other than the dollar.

While Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003, according to the November 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, it continues to enrich uranium, acquire advanced weapons technology, and supports terrorism.

According to the GAO report, US agencies do not systematically collect or analyze data demonstrating the overall impact and results of their sanctioning and enforcement actions. Iran's global trade ties and leading role in energy production make it difficult for the United States to isolate Iran and pressure it to reduce proliferation and support for terrorism.

For example, Iran's overall trade with the world has grown since the US imposed sanctions, although this trade has fluctuated. Imports rose sharply following the Iran-Iraq war in 1988 and then declined until 1995; most export growth followed the rise in oil prices beginning in 2002.

This trade included imports of weapons and nuclear technology, especially from Russia and China.

Many security experts believe the answer is to disengage from foreign entanglements. Create a Strategic Defense System to protect the US. Protect our borders with all the resources necessary to protect them. Continue streamlining the military so that it is a leaner, meaner fighting machine that protects Americans, but is not used for foreign adventures such as Haiti, Kosovo and other regions in which we have no interests.

The US government should maintain an intelligence and counterintelligence mechanism that works to protect Americans and doesn't get involved in partisan politics. The primary goal is to protect the homeland, not cut security budgets in order to create pork barrel projects and earmarks to help politicians maintain their power.

Also, President Barack Obama should continue visible and unquestionable American support for Israel, including the task of making certain the Jewish state maintains its military prowess in the region.

© Jim Kouri

 

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Jim Kouri

Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police... (more)

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