In his column ("Not even cake sprinkles for Iran" April 12), Dan Rodricks questions the wisdom of the decision by the spice company, McCormick, to stop doing business in Iran and argues that more good than harm would come from young Iranians being exposed to 'cake sprinkles.' His argument is based on two erroneous assumptions.
First, there is no evidence to support the argument that exposing Iranians to American goods is exposing them to American values and freedoms we cherish so dearly. Indeed, there is strong evidence that many Iranians both young and old support the pressure companies are putting on the Iranian regime by pulling out of Iran. A number of leading corporations including General Electric, KPMG, and Toyota have stopped doing business in Iran precisely because they want to support the democratic opposition in Iran. As more companies like McCormick make the responsible decision to pull out of Iran, more pressure is put on the regime.
Second, the argument that McCormick was able to find a legitimate distributor not involved with blacklisted entities in Iran is one that must be subject to ongoing scrutiny and evaluation. Iran is notorious for creating shell corporations and companies with different names in order to circumvent sanctions. Rather than conduct ongoing investigations about the distributors and their various, often murky, relations with government entities in Iran, McCormick chose to follow the simplest and most prudent course of action.
Corporations can play a powerful role in supporting and bolstering the impact of government-imposed sanctions. Already, we see democracy and human rights activists in Iran calling on the current regime to change its behavior precisely because so many governments and responsible corporations are pulling out. To stop applying pressure now would validate and legitimate President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's brutal repression against his own people and his illegal nuclear weapons program.
Mark D. Wallace, New York
The writer is a former ambassador to the United Nations and president of United Against Nuclear Iran.