Iran sanctions and the awesome power of the RBC

Senate Democrats no longer rattling sabres at Iran.

Due, no doubt, to the flurry of emails, phone calls, and faxes generated by my earlier post, it now appears that Senate Democrats are backing away from the Kirk-Menendez bill. (I refuse to entertain the notion that this is simply common sense settling in, without any help from RBC readers.)

Ben Cardin, for example, says that he’s willing to leave the timing of a vote up to Harry Reid, who has made it clear he intends to bring the bill up on the Twelfth of Never. Michael Bennet and Joe Manchin say they co-sponsored the bill so the threat of its passage could strengthen the President’s hand in Iran negotiations, not with the intention that it actually pass.

Now are we going to hear Ben Cardin denounced as insufficiently pro-Israel? Probably. (At least Commentary, which misrepresents the earlier post by suggesting that I had called on only, rather than especially, those with “Jewish-sounding names” to call for sanity, states my reason correctly: “these calls would seem to carry extra weight and legitimacy if they appeared to be coming from those who are assumed to be pro-Israel.”)

Footnote Now that the Reality-Based Community has demonstrated its power to shape national policy, all of us – however we spell our last names – must be careful to use that power responsibly. Let us astound the world with our moderation! For example, rather than demanding a return to Eisenhower-era tax rates on high incomes and large estates, we should be prepared to settle for the Reagan-era rates, along with Nixon-era policies on drug sentencing.

 

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

4 thoughts on “Iran sanctions and the awesome power of the RBC”

  1. “Michael Bennet and Joe Manchin say they co-sponsored the bill so the
    threat of its passage could strengthen the President’s hand in Iran
    negotiations, not with the intention that it actually pass.” Is there a literature on the lesser-known corollary to the madman theorem in negotiation, viz. the mad uncle in the woodshed?

    1. The Mad Uncle in the Woodshed certainly played a vital role in America’s involvement in the Korean War, including (especially) the White House veto of General MacArthur’s plan to pursue the Chinese across the Yalu (and possibly, in the process, bomb China into oblivion).

      In fact, there were the Mad Uncle (China) and also the Mad Uncle of the Mad Uncle (Russia). Quite complicated, now that you mention it.

  2. Sorry, Mr. Kleiman, much as one would like to credit the RBC commentariat with a greater-than-normal (i.e. zero) level of influence on Senate negotiations, I’m afraid you’re right that “common sense” has little to do with the (hopefully) impending derailment of the Kirk-Menendez sanctions bill. Which is sadly, only appropriate, as “common sense” had little to do with its being floated in the first place.

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