Courtesy Reuters


The American-driven sanctions against Iran were meant to transform the "backlash state" into a law-abiding, cooperative, and constructive member of the world community. Washington expected trade and investment restrictions to cripple the productive base of the economy and curtail Iran's ability to support international terrorism or acquire sophisticated military hardware. Economic hardship and fiscal austerity would demoralize the population and turn it against the regime. And domestic popular discontent and external political isolation, Washington hoped, would bring the clerical leadership to its senses.

Inadequate hard data make an objective assessment of the sanctions difficult. Supporters of

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