United States vs. Iran, Round 1,674,398: Switch Off the Enemy Creation Machine

Reuters reports that Iran is “exploiting a loophole in Western sanctions” by importing highly refined aluminum. Apparently, the fear is that the Iranians will fashion this material into various components used in missiles. The Obama Administration is scrambling this month to add the metal, along with other metals including (tellingly) gold and silver to the list of prohibited items for export.

The United States finds itself, at this point, playing the role of an international “gun grabber.” Domestically, it’s easy to understand why gun control doesn’t work, no matter how many laws the politicians pass or “gun buyback” programs various police departments sponsor. At the international level, however, some tend to lose sight of this basic truth, even those who place themselves on the right-side of the political spectrum and would otherwise oppose Obama’s efforts.

Here’s a free hint, though, to the drones in DC: basic wares such as aluminum can be used to make anything, and you can’t ban it all. What’s next, a toilet paper embargo?

Since the Iranians will acquire these materials anyway, regardless of the export controls the United States imposes, imagine what would happen if Obama’s successor chose to depart from the failed policies of the past. The term “reset button” has acquired some unfortunate baggage over the years, so call it a “clean slate” instead.
American citizens working in a number of industries would finally be able to freely engage in commerce with the Iranians, and the Iranian government would be free to recalculate its assessment of its interests with respect to the United States. Those missiles that the United States expected to suddenly manifest may in fact never do so, since the factors driving their development will have shifted toward other priorities.

The key here is to recognize that the regime in the District of Columbia has long had the power to manufacture as many cookie-cutter enemies as it desires, and we’ve all seen the results. It’s high time to try a different approach.

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