Relax. This isn't another column about the shutdown -- of the American government.
It is about the attempted shutdown of Iran's economy in a bank-shot bid by President Obama and allies to stop Iran's nuclear weapons development, which its new president denies having, which no one really believes.
The stakes are high since Iran is the region's major exporter of terrorism. It could provide a nuclear weapon to such groups.
Iran's successful acquisition of a weapon of mass destruction would likely set off a regional arms race. And it's the latest test of Obama's soft diplomacy and reset of Russian relations that hasn't worked in Syria either.
Obama helped orchestrate a broad array of international sanctions on Iran. There's no doubt they have basically crippled that country's economy, as documented in a new study by the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and Roubini Global Economics.
Unfortunately, disabling Iran's economy was not the goal, only the means to convince Iran to halt its development of a nuclear weapon. And there is no evidence that's happened.
In fact, the new study states, "Iran is less than a year from reaching critical nuclear capability." Possibly as early as mid-summer 2014.
New talks among Iran, the United States and allies are scheduled for later this month, when Iran's new smiley regime is expected to seek an easing of the sanctions in exchange for more smiles or something.
Iran's charm offensive has included a telephone chat with Obama, who touted the exchange as a sign of potential progress and evidence of the worthiness of his extended-hand diplomacy. Iran's new president, Hassan Rouhani, proclaimed by the media as a moderate in comparison to his dour, angry predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is the friendlier face of Iran's new strategy.
However, a decade ago when he was the negotiator with the West, Rouhani was quoted saying such talks were a useful delaying tactic while its nuclear program advanced.
In his recent address to the United Nations, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu noted that Iran's leadership has often promised to erase Israel. Netanyahu vowed that his country would never allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon and his nation was prepared to stand alone internationally in such opposition.
The Israeli leader's tough go-it-alone language raised questions about the bluntness of exchanges between Netanyahu and Obama in an Oval Office meeting the previous day.
Rather than an easing of sanctions, the Foundation-Roubini study by Mark Dubowitz and Rachel Ziemba advocates additional sanctions, including:
"Sanctioning any financial institution that provides Iran access to, or use of, its foreign reserves, dramatically reducing permissible imports of Iranian crude products, requiring countries buying Iranian crude to dramatically reduce their exports of non-humanitarian commercial goods to Iran and blacklisting additional sectors of the Iranian economy....such as the mining, engineering and construction sectors and vigorously enforcing gold sanctions to deny Iran access to gold to replenish its FX reserves."