IRAN RESOLUTION. In a move not likely to enhance the reputation of the Security Council, Russia and China forced the West to water down the resolution on Iran's nuclear program so that it now threatens to threaten Iran with sanctions if they don't stop enriching uranium by August 31, rather than actually threatening sanctions as such. On the other hand, Iran has already said that they'll respond to the latest Western offer by August 22 so the whole thing may be moot anyway because people will be reconsidering their positions in light of whatever Teheran says then.

The genuinely ominous sign here is that the resolution passed 14-1, with the one "no" vote coming from Qatar, at the moment the one Arab nation represented on the Council. As we saw in the initial days of the Israel-Hezbollah crisis, the Arab regimes are, on the merits, actually very alarmed about Iran. But as we saw in subsequent days, they're also somewhat under the sway of Arab public opinion, which has come to be pro-Iranian out of hostility to American and Israeli policy. Qatar has one of the most America-friendly Arab governments out there (as witnessed by our giant military base in the country), so if even they won't stand by even the watered-down version of American Iran policy, we can see that there's going to be essentially no regional support for anti-Iranian measures.

As Gareth Porter reported in the Prospect a little while ago, Bush had a chance several years back to make a very good deal with Iran. But he blew that opportunity and now our hand is far, far, far weaker and the outcome will be much less favorable.

--Matthew Yglesias

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