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Will Iran sanctions work?


Matthew Yglesias hails an Obama victory:

Not that heâ??ll get any credit for it from the haters, but it seems to me that the UN Security Councilâ??s vote to impose sanctions on Iran counts as a vindication of Barack Obamaâ??s view that taking a more conciliatory approach to the world will help get more cooperation from other world powers on American priorities.

I don't think I'd qualify as a "hater" but I think it's worth unpacking this a bit. America's priority, as explained by the Obama administration, is that Iran abandon its nuclear weapons program. A Security Council resolution is a means to that end, not the end. With Iran reportedly possessing enough enriched Uranium to build two nuclear weapons, this resolution has the distinct sound of a barn door closing after the horses have fled.

Nevertheless, Yglesias makes another point in his post, which I agree with, that the victory of sanctions is not that they'll stop Iran but that they'll serve notice to other middling powers that might be considering nukes of their own that there will be some price to pay. It's a consolation prize, to be sure, but nevertheless a message worth sending.

(AP Photo)