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July 11, 2009
The New York Times tells a whopper about Bush-era Iran sanctions
Refreshingly, the New York Times calls for tougher sanctions by the world community should talks with Iran about its nuclear program fail to restrain it. However, the Times being the Times cannot restrain itself from getting a dig in at former President George W. Bush-even if the paper fabricates history to do so.
The Times editorial has this whopper of a claim:
We don't know if there is any mix of incentives or sanctions that would work. Certainly President George W. Bush, for all his tough talk and bullying ways, never tried to find it.
This is wrong - and baldly so. The Bush administration in fact spent years imposing new sanctions against Iran, individual radical power centers within Iran that bucked up the regime (the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, for example) , banks and financial institutions in Iran, and individual Iranians.
Here is a Washington Post story from Oct, 2007:
In approving far-reaching, new unilateral sanctions against Iran, President Bush signaled yesterday that he intends to pursue a strategy of gradually escalating financial, diplomatic and political pressure on Tehran.
Stuart Levey at the Treasury Department was the effective point man for squeezing Iran with economic sanctions during the Bush years. When he was retained by the Obama administration, it received wide publicity .
Unlike Barack Obama, Bush pushed for and won strong backing for sanctions from European nations
Bush's sanctions were targeted at the pillars of the regime that supported terror and the nuclear program, specifically those involving military and weapons financing rather than punishing the Iranian people as a whole. The empire created by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards was a focus - the same group responsible for torturing and executing many Iranian civilians over the years, including during the recent riots over the election "results". Specific Iranian banks involved in the nuclear program and terror financing had sanctions imposed upon them as well.
Numerous Iranian individuals faced travel and other restrictions imposed on them over the years because of their involvement in the nuclear program.
The claim that Bush did not seek to tailor a sanctions regime to forestall the Iranian nuclear program is a bald-faced lie on the part of the "paper of record". Ten minutes of googling would have revealed this truth. Or just reading the newspapers over the last few years should have informed the mandarins on the Times editorial board that the Bush administration was very active on the sanctions front.
Compare that administration with the current one that has worked with Howard Berman (the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee) to table any other sanctions efforts on Iran or the President himself who said that it was never his intention to secure sanctions against Iran at his recent G8 summit. Meanwhile, the Obama administration did not request the renewal of the Bush administration's democracy funding for Iran in its 2010 budget request. How about using the option of stepping up funding for pro-democracy activists in Iran as a tool to tailor our actions to prompt a positive reaction from Iran regarding its nuclear program? How about maintaining our anti-ballistic missile defense funding-instead of cutting it during this time of Obama mega-spending? Might that also be an option tailor made to sway Iran from its nuclear program?
The Times seems to miss this logic while willfully misleading its own readers over the history of George Bush's administration.