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July 08, 2008

Trading With Iran
Posted by Ilan Goldenberg

You'd think that if you were going to base your entire strategy for getting Iran to give up it's uranium enrichment program around sanctions you'd at the very least, ya know, sanction them.  But in a surprising and odd development it turns out that U.S. trade with Iran has increased ten-fold over the past eight years. 

U.S. exports to Iran grew more than tenfold during President Bush's years in office even as he accused Iran of nuclear ambitions and helping terrorists. America sent more cigarettes to Iran — at least $158 million worth under Bush — than any other products.

Other surprising shipments to Iran during the Bush administration: brassieres, bull semen, cosmetics, fur clothing, sculptures, perfume, musical instruments and possibly even weapons.

Now, in my view sanctions alone do not have a huge impact in changing a regime's behavior.  And these numbers are small by comparison to U.S. standards (Although as the Center for Arms Controls and Non-Proliferation points out Iran is also pretty small by U.S. standards).  If you are going to spend five years stubbornly bumping your head up against a wall and refuse to engage in direct talks.  Then insist that somehow economic pressure alone will bring the Iranians to the table and cause them to give up their enrichment program.  If you are going to pursue that policy then you could at least try to actually follow through.

Then again, this could be part of a sophisticated Neocon regime change policy.  Send the Iranians cigarettes and bull semen (which yes is used for making cattle.  I didn't know.  But apparently it's a big industry).  Then kill off the regime with lung cancer and too much red meat.  I guess all the brassieres and perfume is to corrupt the pure virtues of the Islamic Republic.   But I don't really understand how the weapons fit into this equation...

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