Karroubi, Moussavi and Sullivan are against sanctions… or maybe just Sullivan

Well, after the death of Montazeri, another round of Iranian protests are upon us. And many  Americans on both sides of the political divide are hoping that the Iranian people knock out the clerical regime and turn Moussavi and Karroubi into representatives of a mostly secular democracy, supporting at least a kind of proto-liberalism.

Andrew Sullivan’s blog The Daily Dish was invaluable as a focal point for news about Iran drawn from even the smallest particles in cyberspace, including Twitter posts. Of course Sullivan is on the right side in the aftermath of Iran’s sham election but his judgment … doesn’t seem to be always there. Sometimes, it seems to have as much to do with a phobia of American neocons as it does his hopes and worries for would-be liberals in Iran.

And so this blog begins, in order to collect some occasional, dangerous lapses in his thinking that Sullivan doesn’t readdress. I think it’s important to get some of the occasional casuistry and radical misreading in one place, because his blog is, rightly so, one of the most widely-read political blogs, and read by the Obama administration.

I’ll write more about the reason for this blog, maybe with an official statement of purpose, at some later date. This blog will mainly consist of quoting from The Daily Dish, without much commentary, somewhat like Andrew Sullivan’s nominations for various “awards.”

In the meantime, and before I start quoting The Daily Dish, I should mention Sullivan’s reiteration of not supporting sanctions.

He often justifies this support (for example, here) by pointing out that Moussavi and Karroubi are against them. Perhaps he means this as “reality-based” strategizing that should naturally contrast with some neocons’ past tendency to project their ideas on the Iranian opposition.

However, it’s obvious that Sullivan is being as naive as the neocons. I’m sorry, but isn’t this what we would expect to be the public position of Moussavi and Karroubi, regardless of whether they privately were for/against sanctions?

The record shows that Karroubi and Moussavi are against sanctions, all sanctions … including the meager sanction measures we could use that would only affect well-placed individuals in the current regime.

I assume Sullivan doesn’t believe that Moussavi and Karroubi feel solidarity with the current leadership of Iran or think that bank-account actions against Ahmadinejad and high-ranking members of the Revolutionary Guard would constitute blows against the Iranian Republic.

Political realities are such that they have to (1) say nothing condoning any international measure penalizing Iran, which would leave them open to hardliner’s accusations that they were unpatriotic and fundamentally self-interested; and (2) say nothing that could get them charged with treason.

I mean, if they knew sanctions would topple the regime before traumatic affliction of the people, then privately they would be for them.  So if we’re going to decide on any sanctions measures which might either

(a) help deter Iran from getting the Bomb (the Bomb which Sullivan seems to have decided is inevitable) or

(b) help the Iranian opposition (we’ve read articles where some students are quoted favoring gasoline sanctions),

we would have to look somewhat deeper than Karroubi and Moussavi’s statements on the record and think much harder.

That is, if we’re being honest with ourselves and not more worried about American neocons than the falsely-elected Iranian regime…


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