Four strikes and you’re out

Four strikes and you’re out

Three strikes and you’re out” may be a baseball term — and one too well known to the Pirates — but it factors into international politics as well.
In three consecutive years, 2006, 2007 and 2008, the United Nations Security Council passed sanctions on Iran hoping to curb the country’s suspected growing interest in development of nuclear capabilities. If you’ve opened a newspaper at all recently, you know that the threat of a nuclear Iran hasn’t gone away.
The question then becomes: With many of the world’s major powers pressuring Iran to cease its nuclear activity (last month, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton even threatened China with economic insecurity if it didn’t join the nations supporting sanctions), how many chances are too many?
The answer coming from most nations, it seems, is at least one more.
But we must learn from history. As the United Nations sets parameters for a fourth round of sanctions there must be a definitive break from previous models.
“If we’re willing to put meaningful, painful sanctions in place, it can work,” JTA reported Josh Block, spokesman for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, as saying. “Do we have the ability to create significant economic pain for the Iranian government? Yes. Are they willing to change their behavior based on that impact? We don’t know.”
He’s right. Based on the past three attempts, we have no real reason to believe that more sanctions would begin to dissuade Iran’s apparent nuclear goals. So if Iran won’t change its approach, we need to. A fourth round of sanctions must send a crippling message that the world will not stand to be ignored by Iran, and it absolutely must have the support of the global community at large. Countries with vast oil refining capabilities must refuse to deal with Iran. Global banking powers must refuse to do business with this regime.
While, thus far, the United States seems among the most staunch supporters of sanctions — Congress will likely soon pass sanctions concerning Iran’s energy sector — nations like China and Russia must stand up as well.
As Jews with an interest in safety in both the United States and Israel and a hesitation to engage Iran militarily, we must be willing to dish out a fourth pitch — even though three strikes are usually an out.
For these sanctions to have any effect — and prevent military action that would likely launch multiple countries into a violent, vicious war — the world must prove unilaterally to Iran that, as Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said, “this is showdown time.”