What happened
The head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard blasted the Bush administration’s new unilateral sanctions on Friday, saying they were “doomed to failure.” The measures, announced a day earlier, called the Revolutionary Guard a “proliferator of weapons of mass destruction” and marked the harshest economic sanctions against Tehran since the 1979 Islamist revolution. The White House said the move was meant to prevent war by forcing Iran to abandon its nuclear program peacefully.

What the commentators said
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says she’ll meet to talk with her Iranian counterparts “any time, anywhere,” said the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in an editorial. “Diplomacy. Yes, it rings a bell.” But branding Iran’s elite al-Quds force as a terrorist group hardly qualifies as a request for “a second chance” at finding a peaceful solution.

The critics say President Bush plans to attack Iran, said The Washington Post in an editorial (free registration), but there is no evidence he has “decided on war.” Are Bush and his aides the only people who understand that a tough sanctions package is “the best way to avoid military action”? If the U.S. and Europe do nothing, Iran surely won’t change and war will be the only option left.

It’s hard to “quarrel” with the sanctions, said the San Francisco Chronicle in an editorial. They’ll deliver a “double whammy” by cutting off Tehran from U.S. banks and branding a government’s soldiers as terrorists for the first time in history. But it’s painfully easy to imagine what the Bush team’s “chest-thumping” leads to next, and the U.S. just can’t afford to charge into another lonely war.