As usual, Agonistas knew first:
Iran Isolation Attempts Backfire
Iran’s provocative missile tests ten days ago again fueled the debate on the likelihood of aerial strikes against Iran. Since last week’s thaw, however, an attack on Iran by the end of President Bush’s tenure no longer appears in the offing. Moreover, the narrow, exclusively military focus of the debate misses the broader picture. The overall U.S. strategy of containing Iran has failed in principle. And the attempt to impose a sanctions regime on Iran has led to an erosion of U.S. strategic influence in Asia and the Middle East. Over the long term, Washington’s shortsighted containment policy will only hurt Western business in the region. It will also play into the hands of China, drive crucial allies away, and render Iran untouchable.
At the eleventh hour, even the Bush administration seems to have realized, albeit in a limited way, the inherent failure of the containment approach. In an important about-face, the White House not only agreed to direct talks between U.S. and Iranian officials in Geneva this weekend but also held out the prospect of soon opening an American interest section in Tehran. This sea change suggests that the realists around Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates having finally gained the upper hand over the faction around Vice President Dick Cheney in the intra-administration feud. The reversal also acknowledges that the dual approach of sanctions and military threats have produced nothing but America’s own isolation. The far-reaching repercussions of these counterproductive sanctions against Iran and America’s increasing isolation in Asia are best illustrated by this month’s breakthrough on the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline.
Read on at Foreign Policy in Focus or at Common Dreams