David Frum

09.11.12

Obama No Hero in Dealing with Iran

Andrew Sullivan, Noah Millman and I have been debating whether the United States truly does face a stark alternative: either acquiesce in Iran's nuclear program -or bomb it. I've been arguing that it's way premature to give up hope that sanctions plus sabotage can work. Business Week reported yesterday more evidence that sanctions are biting:

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's currency hit a record low against the U.S. dollar in street trading, the semiofficial Mehr news agency reported Sunday.

Mehr says the rial dropped nearly 7 percent in a single day, to 24,300 rials to the dollar. Street traders say the rial rose slightly later on Sunday to around 23,900 rials to the dollar.

At the beginning of 2012, the rial was trading at around 18,000 to the dollar; in the summer of 2010, at 12,000.

This loss of one-third the currency's value in the course of less than a year - of one-half its value over two years - represents a mighty blow against the regime. It is the product of tightening international financial and economic pressure.

That pressure would not have occurred in the absence of credible Israeli threats of force, which is why the Netanyahu government's policy should been as a force for stability and security, contra some of that government's detractors.

Andrew asks, shouldn't I say that I support the Obama administration's policy then? The answer is: as that policy stands now, yes.

But let's not forget that the Obama administration had to be pushed and shoved against its will to implement the central bank sanctions now hitting so much hard - and that the real heroes of this story are Senators Mark Kirk of Illinois and Robert Menendez of New Jersey, who wrote the central bank sanctions law that the Obama administration has been constrained to adopt.