Blogs: Paul Pillar

What Have the Saudis Done For Us Lately?

Principle and Pragmatism, Here and Abroad

President Obama Should Visit Hiroshima

How Sanctions Can Reduce U.S. Leverage: The Case of Iran

Paul Pillar

As far as ballistic missiles are concerned, the attempts at linkage also fly in the face of the reality that—given the ubiquity of such devices, the wide variety of them used in conventional warfare including down to the battlefield level, the substantial missile capabilities of some of Iran's neighbors, and the fact that Iran has suffered significantly from past use of neighbors' missiles—Iran is never going to give up missiles. There are possibilities for placing useful negotiated limits on ballistic missiles, such as limits on the range of the weapons, although for any such negotiations to succeed they probably would have to include other parties in the Middle East besides Iran.

This is another respect in which the Post, Royce, and other members of Congress who have been talking lately about missiles and more sanctions on Iran are not proposing anything that has any chance of doing any good, regarding missiles or anything else. They say nothing about exactly what Iran would have to do to avoid or end such sanctions, let alone about the realistic prospects for such incentives to work in changing any Iranian policies. They propose no negotiations that would offer a way out of the sanctions. Sanctions kept in place in the name of missiles—either new sanctions designated with that name, or a de facto continuation of the nuclear sanctions because of the fear among international bankers about accidentally crossing lines—would be another feckless statement in which we would be saying, “we don't like what you're doing, so we will inflict pain on you indefinitely.” Such a gesture would be just as ineffective in changing any Iranian behavior as were all those years of imposing more and more nuclear sanctions without offering any negotiated way out, as the Iranians just kept spinning more and more centrifuges and enriching more and more uranium.

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ISIS is Losing; Now Comes the Hard Part

Paul Pillar

As far as ballistic missiles are concerned, the attempts at linkage also fly in the face of the reality that—given the ubiquity of such devices, the wide variety of them used in conventional warfare including down to the battlefield level, the substantial missile capabilities of some of Iran's neighbors, and the fact that Iran has suffered significantly from past use of neighbors' missiles—Iran is never going to give up missiles. There are possibilities for placing useful negotiated limits on ballistic missiles, such as limits on the range of the weapons, although for any such negotiations to succeed they probably would have to include other parties in the Middle East besides Iran.

This is another respect in which the Post, Royce, and other members of Congress who have been talking lately about missiles and more sanctions on Iran are not proposing anything that has any chance of doing any good, regarding missiles or anything else. They say nothing about exactly what Iran would have to do to avoid or end such sanctions, let alone about the realistic prospects for such incentives to work in changing any Iranian policies. They propose no negotiations that would offer a way out of the sanctions. Sanctions kept in place in the name of missiles—either new sanctions designated with that name, or a de facto continuation of the nuclear sanctions because of the fear among international bankers about accidentally crossing lines—would be another feckless statement in which we would be saying, “we don't like what you're doing, so we will inflict pain on you indefinitely.” Such a gesture would be just as ineffective in changing any Iranian behavior as were all those years of imposing more and more nuclear sanctions without offering any negotiated way out, as the Iranians just kept spinning more and more centrifuges and enriching more and more uranium.

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