For years, there have been voices telling us that economic sanctions would not lead to positive change in Iran. Sanctions, the mantra went, would only empower the Iranian regime and Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), by stoking nationalism and leading the Iranian people to revile the West and coalesce in support of their current leadership.
Yet Iran's most recent presidential election, which resulted in hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad being replaced by Hassan Rouhani, has proved that argument to be wrong. The people of Iran did not show increased support for the regime, in fact they did the most they could under difficult circumstances to make change.
Amazingly, however, with Rouhani being inaugurated, the same individuals who wrongly predicted that sanctions would empower the regime are still at it, arguing that it is now time to scale them back, what with a "moderate" president now taking power. Such thinking is not just illogical, but quite dangerous at this historically perilous time. The key objective for any foreign policy maker right now, given the high stakes, has to be stopping Iran's nuclear program. And it is only a strengthening of sanctions, not a lifting of them, that will force the regime's hand.