In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review August 16, 2007 / 3 Elul, 5767

The Achilles' heel in an Iran gone mad

By Jonathan Gurwitz

Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Twenty years ago, the Soviet Union was on the verge of catastrophe. People who suffered under the repressive rule of the communist regime in Moscow had lost faith in its guiding ideology. Calls for internal reform met with increased internal repression.

Revenue from the energy sector had for years sustained exorbitant military expenditures and propped up the Soviet state. But in the mid-1980s, America's Arab allies flooded the market with cheap Middle Eastern crude. Ronald Reagan's "Saudi strategy" led to a collapse in the price of oil. The authoritarian dictatorship that had been preserved by Siberian oil fields soon collapsed as well.

The Cold War ended. The West had won. Not a shot was fired.

There's a country today that resembles the Soviet Union of the 1980s, one that engages the West in a reckless game of adventurism, where the people have lost faith in a revolutionary ideology, that is resorting to increasingly harsh measures to deal with dissidents and whose regime is sustained solely by oil revenue.

That country is Iran.

President Bush and the major presidential candidates of both parties are correct in saying that a military option for dealing with Iran must remain a contingency for the future. But the demise of Soviet Russia suggests there's another, better way to deal with Iran that avoids military confrontation.

The case of Haleh Esfandiari, a 67-year-old Iranian American scholar who has been held in solitary confinement for three months in Tehran's dreaded Evin prison on charges of anti-state activity, is the best-known, but by no means the only, example of a paranoid crackdown by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on real and imagined opponents.

The regime has imprisoned hundreds of thousands of Iranians in recent months for infractions of the Islamic dress code, "hooliganism" and other ethical transgressions. State security and paramilitary groups have detained and beaten university student reformers and labor union leaders.

Iran is in the midst of an execution craze. The Iranian government has put to death more than 150 people this year, including women and juveniles. Most of the executions are public hangings, some broadcast on television. Iran expert Amir Taheri writes that 150 more are scheduled to be hanged or stoned to death in coming weeks.

The heightened repression, televised confessions and executions — not so subtle reminders of the lethally coercive powers of the state — come amid signs of economic unrest, rising unemployment and inflation and declining oil production. While Iran is still OPEC's second-largest exporter of crude oil, it is a net importer of refined petroleum products, including gasoline. When the government was forced to institute gas rationing in June, rioting broke out.

There's no Saudi option today with regard to Iran. The demand for energy from a robust international economy means that even if OPEC's other producers open their spigots to capacity, the price of oil won't appreciably decline. But domestic discontent and economic fragility point to the mullah's Achilles' heel.

In conjunction with U.S.-sponsored U.N. Security Council resolutions that freeze the assets of entities and individuals involved in Iran's illicit nuclear program, Congress is seeking to broaden the economic front against Tehran. The Bush administration has already had success pressuring international financial institutions to cut their ties with Tehran. Proposed congressional measures would place sanctions on European energy companies — such as Royal Dutch Shell, France's Total and Spain's Repsol — for doing business in Iran.

European governments object that this would hamper efforts to moderate Iranian extremism.

Engagement, as they call it, is, however, a thin veneer for doing business at any price.

The West can deal with Iran's nuclear weapons program and support for international terrorism without ever firing a shot. But those who aren't willing to work the economic lever make a teetering Iran more durable and dangerous than it otherwise ought to be.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Comment by clicking here.

JWR contributor Jonathan Gurwitz, a columnist for the San Antonio Express-News, is a co-founder and twice served as Director General of the Future Leaders of the Alliance program at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. In 1986 he was placed on the Foreign Service Register of the U.S. State Department.

Jonathan Gurwitz Archives

© 2007, Jonathan Gurwitz