Re-imposing Sanctions on Iran Won’t Be Enough

A number of restrictions on doing business with the Islamic Republic that had been suspended by the 2015 nuclear deal went back into effect this week, and more are on their way. While the American withdrawal from the agreement has already had a significant impact on Iran’s feeble economy, adding fuel to popular protests against the regime, Richard Goldberg argues that it won’t be enough to bring Tehran to its knees:

Sustained political warfare, robust military deterrence, and maximum economic pressure will all be necessary. Pressure will build steadily as our re-imposed sanctions take hold. . . . Sanctions, [however], are only effective if they are enforced. The sooner the Trump administration identifies a sanctions-evading bank and cuts it off from the international financial system, the sooner a global chilling effect will amplify the impact of American sanctions. The same goes for underwriters and gold-traders.

Beyond enforcement, the Trump administration will need key allies to implement this pressure campaign fully. The Saudis, under attack by Iranian missiles from Yemen, should be a willing partner in the effort to drive down Iran’s oil exports—ensuring Saudi production increases to replace Iranian contracts and stabilize the market. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain should also combine their market leverage to force European and Asian investors to choose between doing business in their countries and doing business in Iran.

President Trump will also need Europeans to act on one key issue which, given their opposition to his withdrawal from the deal, may present a diplomatic challenge. Under U.S. law, the president may impose sanctions on secure financial-messaging services—like the Brussels-based SWIFT service—if these services provide access to the Central Bank of Iran or other blacklisted Iranian banks.

In 2012, when Congress first proposed the idea, the European Union ordered SWIFT to disconnect Iranian banks, which closed a major loophole in U.S. sanctions. Now that Trump has left the deal, SWIFT must once again disconnect Iran’s central bank. If SWIFT refuses, Trump should consider imposing sanctions on the group’s board of directors. Trump’s Iran pivot from appeasement to pressure offers America the best chance to change fundamentally Iranian behavior and improve our national security.

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More about: Iran, Iran sanctions, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy

Israel’s Nation-State Law and the Hysteria of the Western Media

Aug. 17 2018

Nearly a month after it was passed by the Knesset, the new Basic Law defining Israel as “the nation-state of the Jewish people” is still causing outrage in the American and European press. The attacks, however, are almost uniformly incommensurate with this largely symbolic law, whose text, in the English translation found on the Knesset website, is barely over 400 words in length. Matthew Continetti comments:

Major journalistic institutions have become so wedded to a pro-Palestinian, anti-Benjamin Netanyahu narrative, in which Israel is part of a global trend toward nationalist authoritarian populism, that they have abdicated any responsibility for presenting the news in a dispassionate and balanced manner. The shameful result of this inflammatory coverage is the normalization of anti-Israel rhetoric and policies and widening divisions between Israel and the diaspora.

For example, a July 18, 2018, article in the Los Angeles Times described the nation-state law as “granting an advantageous status to Jewish-only communities.” But that is false: the bill contained no such language. (An earlier version might have been interpreted in this way, but the provision was removed.) Yet, as I write, the Los Angeles Times has not corrected the piece that contained the error. . . .

Such through-the-looking-glass analysis riddled [the five] news articles and four op-eds the New York Times has published on the matter at the time of this writing. In these pieces, “democracy” is defined as results favored by the New York Times editorial board, and Israel’s national self-understanding as in irrevocable conflict with its democratic form of government. . . .

The truth is that democracy is thriving in Israel. . . .  The New York Times quoted Avi Shilon, a historian at Ben-Gurion University, who said [that] “Mr. Netanyahu and his colleagues are acting like we are still in the battle of 1948, or in a previous era.” Judging by the fallacious, paranoid, fevered, and at times bigoted reaction to the nation-state bill, however, Bibi may have good reason to believe that Israel is still in the battle of 1948, and still defending itself against assaults on the very idea of a Jewish state.

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More about: Israel & Zionism, Israel's Basic Law, Israeli democracy, Media, New York Times