Sunday, April 18, 2010

"Vigilance" Now Has a Place in the Major League of Fuzziness Alongside "Inacceptable"

The United States’ notions of U.N. sanctions on Iran have devolved over the past months from crippling ones to ones that bite to the currently described smart ones, which although packaged with the words tough and strong might not be hard-nosed enough to cost the mullahs a half-hour’s lost sleep
writes John Vinocur.
Is this a descending spiral of resolve fated to result in sanctions that pinch, nip or tweak? …the United States could seem to some of its allies to be shying away from pressing the United Nations to adopt extensive sanctions on the export of refined petroleum products to Iran.

…Besides, if we’re dealing in morality on serious methods for depriving Iran of nuclear weapons capability or a bomb, lowering the level of gasoline exports to Iran instead of carrying out airstrikes on presumed nuclear installations would seem to be a far preferable “humanitarian” approach (Mr. Rhodes’ word) for both Iranians and the U.S. military.

The French, who are pretty consistently tough on Iran, appeared truly irritated a few months back when Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, in moving away from her call for crippling sanctions, expressed a preference for sanctions that would “not contribute to the suffering of ordinary Iranians.”

…Ah, vigilance. It’s also the word, open to a hundred interpretations, that has come under discussion as a substitute for U.N. sanctions banning transactions involving Iran’s central bank.

With all its vagueness, vigilance now has a place in the major league of fuzziness alongside “unacceptable,” the term used by the United States and its friends concerning Iran’s eventually achieving nuclear weapons status. No course in diplomatic exegesis is required to think that’s an awful long way from saying, “We won’t allow it.”

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