Test of Concept: Sanctions are hitting Iran hardOctober 4, 2012
Steven Hanke shows that the Iranian currency has collapsed and Iran is in a state of hyperinflation.
The sanction regime that was initiated in the last months of the Bush Administration and then turned up two years ago by the Obama Administration has really sunk its teeth in . . . but will it be enough to turn Iran back from the brink? Hanke doesn’t think so:
There is no question that the sanctions the “allies” are imposing on Iran are starting to bite, and bite pretty hard. But, will this coercion win the “war?” Probably not. Prof. John Mearsheimer, in his masterpiece, The Tragedy of Great Power Politics, provides more than ample evidence to show that naval blockades and strategic bombing (and I would add financial sanctions) rarely produce their desired results. As Prof. Mearsheimer concludes:
“…the populations of modern states can absorb great amounts of pain without rising up against their governments. There is not a single case in the historical record in which either a blockade or a strategic bombing campaign designed to punish an enemy’s population caused significant public protests against the target government. If anything, it appears that ‘punishment generates more public anger against the attacker than against the target government.'”
Even though the sanctions are causing untold misery in Iran, history suggests that a good dose of skepticism about whether the Iranians will comply with the demands of the “allies” is in order — as Prof. Mearsheimer writes:
“…governing elites are rarely moved to quit a war because their populations are being brutalized. In fact, one could argue that the more punishment that a populations suffers, the more difficult it is for the leaders to quit the war. The basis of this claim, which seems counterintuitive, is that bloody defeat greatly increases the likelihood that after the war is over the people will seek revenge against the leaders who led them down the road to destruction. Thus, those leaders have a powerful incentive to ignore the pain being inflicted on their population and fight to the finish in the hope that they can pull out a victory and save their own skin.”
So, in one sense, the sanctions are working; they are imposing a great deal of misery on Iranians. But, in another sense, they will probably fail — fail to force the mullahs to comply. Perhaps that’s why Russia’s wily foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov confidently stated that “Russia is fundamentally against [adopting even more sanctions], since for resolving problems, you have to engage the countries you are having issues with, and not isolate them.”