2011 July 24 Sunday
Trade Sanctions Against Iran To Bite?

The US and some of its allies managed to get the big shipping firm Maersk to stop serving Iranian ports. Is this a big win for the US against Iran's nuclear program and government?

After two years of failed efforts to entice Iran with diplomatic carrots, the Obama administration is quietly toasting successes at using economic sticks. A series of U.S. and international sanctions imposed over the past year have slowly undermined Iranís ability to conduct trade by targeting the countryís access to international banking, insurers and transportation companies. Like Maersk, some firms voluntarily cut ties with Iranian companies that U.S. officials say are front operations for the Revolutionary Guard.

How can trade sanctions by Western governments make much of a dent in an era when China is factory to the world? Unless China wants to stop selling Iran stuff (and China needs Iran's oil) whatever the US and its allies decide will have only marginal impact on Iran. That impact will decline with time. This is one of the ways US influence is declining. US export controls mean less and less every year as other countries develop industries of their own that make a growing list of stuff that the US doesn't even make any more.

Iran has 52 drilling rigs active versus Saudi Arabia's 68 rigs. So it doesn't sound like Iran's oil industry has ground to a halt. As long as the oil keeps pumping the Iranians could just buy ships and cruise those ships to south Asian and east Asian ports to buy stuff.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2011 July 24 02:15 PM  MidEast Iran

no i don't said at July 24, 2011 4:32 PM:


For a country's citizens it's always very sad -and I mean it witout sarcasm- to see how the country becomes irrelevant; to see how politicians lead the country into the realm of the absurd.

The U.S. was once a country to love. The interesting thing is that Americans -like Russians during the USSR- continue to think that outside their country there's nothing else.

Jeff Maylor said at July 24, 2011 8:28 PM:

I know a lot of people on these blogs think the end of US hegemony is going to usher in a world of freedom and love, but it will quite likely be quite a nasty place indeed. Our children will wonder WTF we gave it up.

Stephen said at July 25, 2011 4:42 AM:

The thing you've go to ask yourself is what exactly did the US trade in order to secure that deal? I just know that Washington will have traded something of value (if only to ordinary Americans) for an ultimately meaningless advance in its pointless grudge against Iran.

A.Prole said at July 25, 2011 8:18 AM:

And of course, China is linked to Iran across the Eurasian landmass, and is thus totally immune from American seaborne efforts to contain it.

Prow said at July 25, 2011 10:55 AM:

Iran has a nice little shipping company all their own. This "win" isn't a win, not one bit.

Randall Parker said at July 25, 2011 6:16 PM:


You raise an excellent point I hadn't thought of: Just what is the US foreign policy elite trading with other nations?

no i don't said at July 26, 2011 8:36 AM:

It's amazing how much the discourse of many Americans has changed in just 2 or 3 years... Good for you.


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