Sanctions Strategy

Bibi Netanyahu toured the US last month pushing the case for imposing sanctions on any company doing business with Iran, be it an American enterprise or not. Now Dick Morris is on the case. Morris thinks it is not only an effective foreign policy strategy, but one that works politically in the US as well.

We should pass — and the president should sign — the Dodd-Lantos bill mandating economic sanctions on any foreign company that aids Iran’s energy industry. Domestic companies are already prohibited from such investments.

This Democratic bill, cosponsored by Sen. Chris Dodd (Conn.) and Rep. Tom Lantos (Calif.), is a bold piece of legislation that strikes at the core of Iranian vulnerability.


We tend to overlook how vulnerable Iran is to economic pressure. Blessed with the second largest oil reserves in the world — after Saudi Arabia — its petroleum production has, nevertheless, dropped from 6 million barrels per day under the shah to a mere 3.9 million today. As a result of surging domestic demand — growing at a rate of 10 percent annually — and falling production, Iranian oil and gas revenues are dropping from $55 billion in 2006 to a projected $44 billion this year. Since these funds account for four-fifths of total government revenues, this falloff directly translates into cutbacks on the government subsidies and social programs the government uses to maintain its slender margin of support among the largely young, unemployed, and restive population. Since less than half of the Iranian population is Farsi and there is no ethnic cohesion to hold the nation together, subsidies like that which keeps gasoline at 35 cents per gallon are vital cogs in the regime’s bid for stability.

Sounds like a good plan to me. Dodd and Lantos (both Democrats) can look muscular. The Bush Administration can defend itself against criticism from Europe by saying that congress forced its hand. And Iran can stew in the juices of domestic upheaval when Iranian minorities rise up against the oppressive government in Tehran.

Win, win, win.