Western sanctions on
The sanctions are intended to block oil sales and banking transactions. But they are providing far less than a hermetic seal. In fact, new leaks are springing almost every day. And, as
Recently, leaders of 120 nations met in
Even with all of that and more, life for the majority of Iranians right now is bleak. Most food now costs at least twice what it used to. Unemployment is rising; 30 percent of Iranians under 25 can't find a job. Inflation is clawing toward 25 percent. The ranks of the really poor are rising.
But in truth, none of that has anything whatsoever to do with the government's decisions on its nuclear program. While the price of cooking oil is rising above what some people can pay, wealthy Iranians are buying record numbers of high-end luxury cars -- BMWs, Mercedes, Maseratis, Porsches -- even though with taxes and sanctions they can cost up to
"Buyers are paying upfront for these cars," one car salesman told an AFP reporter.
You see, with all the attention on
The people in government, and those who work for them, are doing quite well, thank you.
In fact, Majd added, "this isn't so bad for the regime. It gives them a chance to crack down" and blame all of it on the Americans. Most Iranians aren't really able to react because "they are preoccupied with food prices and inflation."
So, sanctions can work only under one circumstance -- if the Iranian people stand up and protest their plight, just as they did after that fraudulent election in 2009. Even then it would have to be a mass uprising powerful enough to throw the government out -- or force it to change.
Well, here we are after more than a decade of sanctions, two months after another fraudulent election, and there's no evidence at all that Iranians are planning to stand up. In fact, in Majd's view, while ordinary Iranians are struggling, "it's more about discomfort than absolute hunger" -- not bad enough "to cause them to riot."
He and other Iranians say they believe moderate discomfort, the struggle to buy enough food, is so preoccupying that it's making an uprising even less likely.
What alternatives does that leave the West? Military action, of course, is the most oft-discussed option -- particularly in
That could work, in theory. But I can't see
This feels like a stalemate with no palatable non-miliary alternative. Meantime, last week
The debate now is between those who believe
Both options are unacceptably scary.
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(c) 2012. Tribune Media Services, Inc.