President Obama boasted during a 2012 Presidential debate that his economic sanctions were “crippling” Iran’s economy and by no means did he exaggerate. Sanctions levied against Iran have injured Iran’s working class and made it extremely difficult, despite “humanitarian” exemptions, for civilians to acquire medicine. Nearly half of Iranian adults polled said that sanctions have “personally hurt” their “livelihood” “a great deal.” Despite this, 63 percent of Iranians think their government should continue its nuclear program anyway. It is perhaps unsurprising that people being abused by a foreign government would rather not have that government dictate policies to them.
Perhaps dealing the fatal blow to the notion that these sanctions, as terrible as they are, may still advance U.S. interests, The Washington Post asserted today that the sanctions have yet to produce any tangible benefits.
Nine months after Iran was hit with the toughest restrictions in its history, the nation’s economy appears to have settled into a slow, downward glide, hemorrhaging jobs and hard currency but appearing to be in no immediate danger of collapse, Western diplomats and analysts say.
At the same time, the hardships have not triggered significant domestic protests or produced a single concession by Iran on its nuclear program. Although weakened, Iran has resisted Western pressure through a combination of clever tactics, political repression and old-fashioned stubbornness, analysts say.
Although Iran has been under U.S. sanctions since the 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, the restrictions imposed last summer were the most significant attempt to hit its oil sector and central bank. The results surprised even the strongest advocates of sanctions: Exports of Iranian oil, Tehran’s chief source of hard currency, fell to about 1 million barrels a day a year ago from more than 2.4 million barrels. At the same time, restrictions on Iran’s main banking institutions crippled the country’s ability to conduct business transactions abroad, with consequences that have rippled across the economy.
The impact has been hardest on the middle and working classes, which have seen savings evaporate and purchasing power dry up.
On the matter of Iran…Netanyahu would be wrong to root for Romney. Barack Obama is the one who’s more likely to confront Iran militarily, should sanctions and negotiations fail. He has committed himself to stopping Iran by any means necessary, and he has a three-year record as president to back his rhetoric. Romney has only rhetoric, and he would be hamstrung in many ways if he chose military confrontation.
We know that U.S. voters, and world leaders, allow Obama extraordinary leeway when it comes to deadly drone strikes, precisely because of his politics, character and background. (We are talking about a man, after all, who won the Nobel Peace Prize while ordering the automated killing of suspected Muslim terrorists around the world.) Romney will get no comparative slack.