promoting the unwanted, redheaded stepchild that is individual liberty

Murder by sanctions

In foreign policy, sovereignty, war and peace on March 28, 2010 at 9:31 pm

“Look, we need to be honest about this, Iranians are going to die if we impose additional sanctions.” — American Enterprise Institute scholar Fred Kagan.

Tomorrow, foreign ministers of G8 countries will convene in Gatineau, Quebec to discuss “the major issues affecting international peace and security.” High on their agenda is the issue of Iran and the possibility of imposing harsher sanctions against the nation.

According to Canada’s Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon, Iran’s nuclear program is of “critical concern.” The Associated Press reported the minister saying he believes it’s necessary to pursue UN-imposed sanctions.

“Unfortunately I believe we are left with little choice but to pursue additional sanctions against Iran ideally through the United Nations Security Council,” Cannon said.

But Cannon, like our own Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, appears to have little concern for the impact such sanctions would have on the Iranian people. Too often, sanctions are viewed as a “peaceful” alternative to war. In reality, sanctions are a means of economic warfare.

Perhaps Cannon is ignorant of the effects of sanctions. Ms. Clinton has no such excuse.

In the 90s, her husband imposed harsh economic sanction against the nation of Iraq — reportedly killing more than a million Iraqis.

Pro-sanction scholar at the American Enterprise Institute Fred Kagan, is aware of the repercussions of such policy. 

“Look, we need to be honest about this,” Kagan said at an April 2009 AEI conference on Iran. “Iranians are going to die if we impose additional sanctions.”

According to AEI, the United States currently blocks “all investment and trade activity with Iran, with exceptions for the import of food, Persian rugs, informational materials, and gifts valued under $100.”

AEI admits that Iran, although host to the world’s third-largest proven petroleum reserves and the second-largest natural gas reserves in the world, is vulnerable to sanctions because of its lack of refineries. Iran’s “real plan,” according to the institute, “is to become energy independent.”

Tomorrow, enlightened world leaders try to make sure that doesn’t happen.

  1. Jessica,

    Humans have found limited tools in the toolbox for international persuasion over the course of history. Every single one of them boils down to lives and money, whether saving or destroying the former or spending or “taking away” the latter.

    A degree of stability in the Mideast was achieved in the Peace treaty between Egypt and Israel negotiated by President Carter. Thru large chunks of “aid” to both Egypt and Israel using strictly American treasure (money) we brokered a “deal” that has provided a small degree of peace and security between those two countries.

    With declining economic conditions some, many perhaps, challenge such spending. Do you?

    Now let’s take Iran and nuclear weapons.

    You point out correctly that sanctions agains Iran will cause Iranians to suffer and maybe some to die. Should we thus take sanctions off the table as a tool on internation intercourse? Do you think we can “buy off” Iranian nuclear intentions? At what cost to Americans I wonder, even if it were possible?

    And then of course there is the option of War. No doubt lots of suffering and death when that tool is used. You as best as I can tell call for the total elimination of such a tool of international persuasion.

    So what is left, I ask. If we cannot afford to pay for others to do as we see best, cannot sanction them into compliance or fight them into submission, what do we do?

    As I try to follow your arguments in terms of international interaction, it seems that you call for our reevaluation of our goals for how others act and encourage “us” to let others do as they see fit in their own best interests.

    But what happens when others “best interests” dramatically and conclusively contradict our views of how the world should work. Do we simply say we disagree and let human events take their course despite the utter lack of “humanity” in such events?

    When is the imposition of suffering on others justified for the “greater good”? More specifically is the imposition of such suffering on Iranians justified to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of that country?

    I suspect you may say that Iranian possesion of nuclear weapons is not “that big a deal” and not worth the effort to restrict such. If that is the case we can “counter blog” on our individual perceptions of the consequences of such lack of action on our part.


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