No, we’re not really calling for cancellation of sanctions – it’s not in our DNA. But we are beginning to wonder if this is what media leaders are driving at, and whether they really have a coercive diplomacy alternative.
The question must be asked when The New York Times decides to give such prominent coverage – by the renowned David Sanger, no less – to yet another think-tank report against sanctions. At the current production rate these reports will soon become a dime a dozen – but that doesn’t mean, of course, that the media will stop pushing them in our face.
This isn’t even the first such report by the Iran Project – whose positions are as well-known as they are consistent. And it certainly is not the first time Thomas Pickering has featured prominently among the signatories – which include other sanctions opponents such as Brezinski, Cirincione, Limbert and Sick – in calls against sanctions: see here and here.
So what exactly is news here? Despite the excitement in the media world, we’re going to stick to our guns and reiterate our belief that sanctions are part of diplomacy, and without them there would not be any diplomacy.
Indeed, some of the self-appointed opinion makers seem disconnected from reality – even though we’re all looking at the same playing field. For instance, while they are calling for sanctions relief, the Iranians are already preparing to up the ante.
Luckily, world decision makers see developments for what they are, and have been quite clear about what’s in the offing. For example, the G8’s recent declaration makes no bones about losing patience with Tehran’s playing for time:
“Following the 5-6 April substantive round of negotiations in Almaty, Kazakhstan with Iran and the E3+3 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union High Representative), the Ministers reaffirmed their desire for a peaceful and negotiated resolution to the nuclear issue, noting that talks cannot continue indefinitely.”
The statement adds:
“They noted that the positions of the E3+3 and Iran remain far apart and called on Iran to engage urgently, actively, and constructively in the diplomatic process with the E3+3, and to cooperate with the IAEA to resolve the serious concerns of the international community and to demonstrate that its nuclear program is exclusively peaceful. Ministers further reaffirmed that, in line with the United Nations Security Council’s approved dual track approach, Iran has the ability to avoid further isolation and improve its situation only if it promptly addresses the concerns of the international community.
This position, by those who count, was reinforced by British Foreign Secretary Hague in a recent interview where he referred to “running out of patience” and not taking “any option off the table in dealing with this crisis.”
It’s comforting – for the moment, anyway – to know that the nuclear crisis with Iran continues to be run by level-headed decision makers, and not by The New York Times and Thomas Pickering & friends.