2008 Republican nominee, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) once again demonstrated his itchy trigger finger today by calling for US action against Iran due to the dubious outcome of their recent presidential election. While appearing on Fox News, McCain said, “It really is a sham that they’ve pulled off, and I hope that we will act.”
McCain said, “The fact is the reaction of the Iranian people shows their discontent with this regime, but to think they’re gonna shake loose from it anytime soon would be a bit optimistic, but it is really a sham that they pulled off, and I hope that we would act. By the way, Sen. Lieberman has a proposal that we put sanctions on people who sell gasoline to Iran. Maybe we ought to think about passing this legislation.”
Iran has been forced to import gasoline because, although they produce more crude oil than they need, their oil refineries are outdated, and can’t keep up with the surging demand for gasoline that a created by a domestic subsidy that kept the price as low as 12 cents a gallon. When the nation tried to increase gas prices in 2007, violent protests broke out.
When asked about the Obama administration’s reaction, McCain said, “Well, initial reports by, quote, administration officials, are that they say that they’re not going to change their policy of dialogue, et cetera, et cetera. I think they should be condemned, and it’s obvious that this was a rigged election and depriving the people of their democratic rights. We are for human rights all over the world.”
McCain didn’t say this, but during the campaign Obama supported cutting off the foreign gasoline supply to Iran. During the October 7 presidential debate, Obama said, “Iran right now imports gasoline . . . if we can prevent them from importing the gasoline that they need . . . that starts changing their cost-benefit analysis. That starts putting the squeeze on them.”
Iran gets its gasoline from five companies, the Swiss firm Vitol; the Swiss/Dutch firm Trafigura; the French firm Total; British Petroleum; and one Indian company, Reliance Industries. This question here is one of timing. Is a domestic election the proper circumstance for the US to use to put the ban in place? Should the US be interfering in an Iranian domestic issue?
The gasoline importation ban is a powerful tool that I think should be used as a deterrent to Iranian development of nuclear weapons. To impose the ban now, would take it away the possibility of its use as a potential stick later. Most importantly, imposing the ban would lend the appearance of American meddling in the domestic affairs in Iran. This is exactly what the regime wants.
What if other nations had imposed sanctions because of the infamous 2000 US presidential election? McCain is pushing for the ban now to encourage regime change, but as N. Korea has demonstrated time and time again, these types of sanctions tend to consolidate power around the regime and harm the people the most. Imposing the importation ban now, would likely backfire by making regime stronger.