Cole in Salon: Bashing Ahmadinejad

My column is out at

“Obama goes over the top in bashing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad:”

Once again, U.S. politicians, including both Sarah Palin and Barack Obama, pile on the Iranian president. Why does Larry King (!) sound like the adult in the room?


‘As for the imposition of economic sanctions on Iran, it might be worth considering for a moment whether the U.S., with its faltering economy, is even able to cause a major oil exporter such as Iran much harm through a unilateral boycott. The law passed by Congress at the insistence of the Israel lobby, placing sanctions on firms doing business in Iran, does not punish those who merely distribute or import Iranian petroleum. Does Obama want to go even further with sanctions? If Congress really could close down Iran’s production of 4 million barrels a day, it would cause the price of petroleum to soar and throw the U.S. into a deep recession or depression. From the point of view of a reality-based foreign policy, this sort of step is known as “cutting off your nose to spite your face.” Russia and China are now balking at placing any further sanctions on Iran via the United Nations Security Council. (Russia is not exactly in a cooperative mood after the drubbing it took from U.S. politicians over its intervention to protect South Ossetia from Georgia.)

The sanctions have in any case had no effect on Iranian policy, though they are keeping Iran’s gas fields from being developed by American and European firms, a task that may fall to Russia’s Gazprom or its Chinese counterpart instead. (One would not advise a President Obama to threaten to cut off economic cooperation with China over its Iran investments, given how much U.S. debt Beijing holds.) Since natural gas is a global market, this boycott of Iran harms American consumers twice, causing the price of gas to be higher than necessary and making sure that the development of Iranian gas creates no jobs for Americans and brings no profits into this country. ‘

Read the whole thing.

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