Robin Wright reports that new sanctions on Iran are still rolling through the UN process: "The proposal indicates that there is still an appetite for significant new punitive measures against Iran even after the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate last week concluded that Tehran had halted its nuclear weapons program four years ago, according to officials from several countries." Kevin Drum remarks:

"The international community is not being dissuaded by the NIE," says an unnamed European diplomat. Perhaps so. Or perhaps the NIE is actually making things easier?

I'd say probably easier. The fact of the NIE's release seems like a decisive signal that the really nutty war faction inside the Bush administration has been defeated and that policy is being driven by people who are worried about Iranian nuclear activities, but who also have a basic grip on reality. American officials like that are the sort of officials that diplomats around the world are prepared to work with. Foreign officials weren't, however, interested in being used as dupes who were supposed to provide a veneer of cover for an insane military adventure. I bet that if you saw a new administration with a clearer commitment to laying out a path for improved US-Iranian relations, you'd see even more willingness on the part of the international communtiy to contemplate punitive measures if Iran is unresponsive.

The underlying principle is simple enough: the US secures more international cooperation when people see us as acting rationally and responding in a reasonable manner to events around the world. Acting frightening and erratic, or paranoid and hysterical, isn't helpful.

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