It comes from former U.S. Amb. to Morocco Marc Ginsberg over at Huffington Post.

[…] Iran has been relatively successful maintaining its vital export markets with the very countries we need to turn the sanctions tourniquet tighter. By any measure, American-led efforts to economically isolate Iran have achieved important victories, but on balance, insufficient ones. In fact, Iran continues to export its goods relatively unhindered particularly to the very nations the U.S. is counting on to support sanctions; namely Japan, the EU and India. Moreover, the Sunni Arab states most concerned about Shiite Iran’s nuclear and regional ambitions, namely Kuwait, Oman and the UAE, have not done nearly enough to end Iran’s access to their exports. A few weeks ago, while in Oman I personally witnessed a flotilla of zodiac boats overflowing with camouflaged goods zipping across the Arabian Gulf to Iran from the port of Khosab. …

[…] Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recently wrote a three-page memorandum to NSC Advisor Jim Jones warning that the U.S. had no clear contingency policy in place should sanctions fail to deter Iran from reaching a “threshold” capacity to construct a nuclear weapon. …

[…] Iran’s rulers may suffer from a bad case of misbegotten uber confidence. But on balance Iran’s counter-containment policy has achieved impressive results. How impressive? Obviously, time will tell. But by its words and deeds Iran’s bravado has the telltale hallmark of nation increasingly convinced that rather being contained, it is the nation that is doing the containing.

The reality has always been that the U.S. and allies cannot stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, even if the facts of whether they’re working on it remain elusive, while weaponizing nuclear material is a whole different subject.

The Israeli government is determined to keep Iran from obtaining nuclear weaponry in a way I don’t see the U.S. getting involved: militarily. If Israel feels its sovereignty is threatened, whether it makes things more difficult for the U.S. or not, the Netanyahu government must defend its people.

As for the dreams of a non-nuclear Middle East, as Queen Noor said softly but bluntly on one of Bill Maher’s last shows, it cannot happen without Israeli transparency on their nuclear weapons arsenal. The double standard must end, though there is no evidence it will.

Frankly, the United States is in a box, which is one reason former Pres. George W. Bush chose to ignore the issue, that is, after he helped get Hamas elected in Gaza by insisting on elections when Palestinians weren’t ready. It remains to be seen if this box we’re in is actually also helping Iran contain the U.S.

Juxtapose this against a new Pew Poll (also see secyclintonblog’s diary “In the News”) which finds most of the world is in favor of using military action to keep Iran from getting the bomb.

Among the nations surveyed, there is widespread opposition to Iran acquiring nuclear weapons and considerable support for tougher economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic. For instance, more than three-quarters of those who oppose the Iranian nuclear program in Spain (79%), Britain (78%), Germany (77%) and France (76%), as well as 67% in Russia and 58% in China, approve of tougher sanctions. Many are also willing to consider using military force to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear capabilities, including about half of those who oppose Iran’s program in Poland, Germany, Spain, and Britain, and roughly six-in-ten
in France.

Pulling the trigger is a lot different from public opinion, especially considering Obama’s duel wars in Afghanistan and Iran. It’s hardly practical.

There is more:

Global opinion of Barack Obama’s dealing with world trouble spots parallels general opinion of U.S. policies in these areas. With regard to Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran, the polling found as many countries approving as disapproving of his handling of these issues. However, the American president gets his worst ratings for dealing with another world problem for which the U.S. is often criticized: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Of 22 nations surveyed including the U.S., in only three nations do majorities approve of Obama’s handling of the dispute: France, Nigeria and Kenya.

However, it reminds me of a similar situation where the U.S. is powerless: moving Netanyahu on Israeli settlements. Everyone knows that the path to peace will requires their dismantlement, as well as a Jerusalem-sharing agreement. But on the game goes.

It’s wonderful news that Israel has eased the Gaza blockade, but let’s wait to see how it’s implemented, because the devil will be in those details.

In a vague statement of principle last Thursday, Israel said it was ready for “adjustments” in its Gaza policy. But the language of the announcement on Sunday suggested a possibility of more sweeping change. Israel said it would expand operations at the land crossings already operating to enable processing of “a significantly greater volume of goods” and “the expansion of economic activity.” It spoke of opening more land crossings in the future.

It also said it would “streamline the policy” on the entry and exit of Palestinians for humanitarian and medical reasons, and on movement of employees of international aid organizations. “As conditions improve,” it added, Israel would consider “additional ways to facilitate the movement of people to and from Gaza.”

A lot of moving parts.

But even after Israel’s announcement, with fingers crossed, I still come back to Amb. Ginsberg’s opinion piece. The implications are sobering.