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The future of its own permanence

Arrows of time

On the occasion of Joe Biden’s visit to the middle east, Benjamin Netanyahu let fly a corker:

“I very much appreciate the efforts of President Obama and the American government to lead the international community to place tough sanctions on Iran,” he said.
“The stronger those sanctions are, the more likely it is that the Iranian regime will have to chose between advancing its nuclear programme, and advancing the future of its own permanence.”

An reader comments:

Surely the most roundabout way of threatening another government like ever? ((Thanks to Seeds.))

It’s right up there. I for one am not even sure whether Netanyahu was saying that merely “sanctions” against Iran the Iranian régime would threaten the future of its own permanence — rather than, presumably, the present of its permanence, which is assured, but somehow fails to guarantee even so that it will exist indefinitely — or whether he meant to incorporate an additional threat that Iran might get, oh, I don’t know, nuked to smithereens for good measure; after all, sanctions alone don’t normally have the effect of actually making a country disappear from the pages of chronology. ((Or even just a country’s government, which (rather than Iran itself) is, as per Ricardo in comments, the target of the threat.)) I wouldn’t be surprised, indeed, if exactly this ambiguity were intended — but in any case, as, um, existential threats go, it’s an impressively macho mouthful.

  1. 1  Ricardo  March 9, 2010, 4:15 pm 

    Could be clearer in distinguishing between “Iran” and “the Iranian regime”, please?

  2. 2  Other Alex  March 9, 2010, 4:24 pm 

    sanctions alone don’t normally have the effect of actually making a country disappear from the pages of chronology
    Nice reference.

  3. 3  Steven  March 9, 2010, 4:31 pm 

    Ricardo — you are right, he is threatening the future of the permanence of the Iranian régime, not Iran tout court.

    (As everyone knows, of course, régimes are always toppled by sanctions.)

  4. 4  JH  March 9, 2010, 8:59 pm 

    “Ricardo — you are right, he is threatening the future of the permanence of the Iranian régime, not Iran tout court.”

    If only people were as quick to see that important difference when criticism is directed at the Israeli régime.

  5. 5  zebbidie  March 9, 2010, 10:09 pm 

    sadly, when it comes time for toppling regimes it always seems that babies and small children are such an important component of the political structure that they must be bombed and killed at 100 for every one actual regime official.
    Ah well, can’t make that omelette without breaking a few egg…shell skulls.

  6. 6  Steven  March 9, 2010, 11:26 pm 

    Oh, while I’m about it, Ricardo’s entirely reasonable plea “Could [you] be clearer in distinguishing between ‘Iran’ and ‘the Iranian regime’, please?” might with profit be directed not only at hastily-typing bloggers but also at, ooh, anyone approving of tough sanctions on Iran because they don’t like the Iranian régime?
    (I thought The J Curve was quite persuasive on how “sanctions” pretty much always hurt the population of the target country while actually shoring up the government.)

  7. 7  BenSix  March 10, 2010, 12:05 pm 

    And this is a moment of opportunity for peace.

  8. 8  Dr Sleepless  March 10, 2010, 7:51 pm 

    It is very nice and precise of us to distinguish between a people and a regime, but I’m a afraid that traditionally employed ‘sanctions’ do not make that distinction – ask any Iraqi, or a Serb, or, while we’re at it, an Iranian :)
    So, I would wager to hypothesize that when we apply that distinction – when discussing international sanctions, mind you – we actually obscure the impact and the consequences of said sanctions, while being able to feel good about ourselves. It is precisely our tolerant understanding of the world as not all black and white, screams the Zizek in me, that may actively support the methods that render it black and white.
    The very fact that Bibi is using that distinction should be enough of a a clue that the distinction is, in reality, intellectually – and if push comes to bunker-busters, morally – bunk.

  9. 9  Steven  March 10, 2010, 8:00 pm 

    I believe that #8 is in agreement with #6.

  10. 10  Dr Sleepless  March 10, 2010, 8:04 pm 

    Yes… to the point of redundancy. I just like the look of my words on the screen, I guess.

  11. 11  Steven  March 10, 2010, 8:05 pm 

    What else are comment threads for but to furnish such pleasures?

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