12 December, 2009

Obama team falling back into old habits on Iran?

Iran expert Gary Sick participated in a simulated negotiation over Iran's nuclear ambitions and is unhappy with how closely the simulations resemble real life:

The goal of the American team was to assemble a consensus for new sanctions against Iran. The Iran team, on the other hand, felt confident that the US and its allies could not put together a package that would hurt us in any serious way, and that was indeed the case. By the end of the game, the Americans had driven away all their ostensible allies, and wasted immense time and effort, while Iran was better off than it had been at the beginning.

This was only a simulation, of course. But the moves of the US team were quite similar to the strategy actually employed by the United States over the course of the past three administrations. The pursuit of sanctions in this game, as in the real world, became an end in itself, with little impact on Iran or its ability to continue enrichment. The United States can (and in fact already has) put together a reasonable set of sanctions. These efforts may please the Israelis, the GCC states and other allies as a show of determination. But will they stop Iran?

He thinks they won't, and that after the deal to swap uranium fell apart in October, both sides have retreated into their respective corners. That is certainly the path of least resistance, and one of the biggest tests of Obama's foreign policy as articulated so brilliantly in his Nobel speech will be whether or not he and his team can overcome that inertia.

(h/t to the Dish for the link)

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