The question is why?
Part of the answer may be found in a recent article by the Bloomberg news service.
“U.S.-led sanctions against Iran are costing OPEC’s third-largest producer $133 million a day in lost sales without raising global crude prices, handing President Barack Obama an election-year foreign-policy victory,” Bloomberg reports. “Annualized, that would cost President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s country about $48 billion in revenue, equivalent to 10 percent of its economy.”
The feared rise in gas prices hasn’t materialized (yet), mostly because of increased production both domestically and in Saudi Arabia, and decreased demand because of the weak economy.
That means Iran is hurting.
But here’s the problem; economic pressure hasn’t made Iran any less dangerous. Economic sanctions have proven to be every bit as ineffective as they’ve been with North Korea and Cuba.
That’s because what drives Iran, like what drives Cuba and North Korea, isn’t economic at all. It’s ideological.
As Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies says, “There is no denying that sanctions have had a devastating effect on Iran’s economy. But it’s still not enough to make the mullahs abandon their nuclear program.”
Nor have the sanctions led to a less belligerent Iran.
“Iran has ‘successfully’ test fired its newest version of the Fateh-110 missile, state media reported Saturday, touting the accomplishment despite international concerns about Tehran’s growing military capabilities,” CNN reports.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned members of Congress about the test in a memo last week. Even Panetta admits there’s little or no visible sign that sanctions are working.
When Ahmadinejad says Israel must be destroyed — something he repeated last week — we must assume he just might mean it.
These are not the words and actions of rational leaders. Rational leaders would take into account their people’s sufferings and their own futures on the world stage.
But we don’t see anything like compassion or self-preservation in Iran’s words and deeds. It’s as if they believe the apocalyptic vision they’ve been espousing.
If so, then war isn’t a brink they’ll push back from. It’s a goal they’re aiming for.
It could come, whether Americans want it or not.