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Posts Tagged ‘Iraq’

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.

Who do sanctions really hurt?

In foreign policy, war and peace on October 28, 2009 at 12:08 am

We often hear the term sanctions being thrown around by media. Economic sanctions, military sanctions, U.N. sanctions — they’re all perceived as a more humanitarian tool for achieving political ends; with war being the last result.

But who do sanctions really hurt? The rich and powerful government officials residing in their palaces? Or do the actually harm the everyday people in these countries struggling to survive?

Are sanctions a more humanitarian tool than war? I don’t know. But I do know that sanctions, like war, are force.

Imagine what would happen to America if the rest of the world imposed sanctions on us. The result would be great hardship for the American people. And we are a wealthy nation.

Consider this recent statement by AEI resident scholar Fred Kagan and supporter of sanctions on Iran:

“Look, we need to be honest about this, Iranians are going to die if we impose additional sanctions.”

Rebecca Griffin, a writer for Peace Action West’s Groundswell Blog, makes the argument that sanctions don’t work and actually empower the current regime. In her opinion, sanctions create a “sanctions economy” where smuggling is the money maker.

Not only can private individuals take advantage of a sanctions atmosphere, but so too can governments. Griffin argues that sanctions actually serve those in power by increasing their control of an economy and knocking out foreign competition. She also says that sanctions in Iran will inhibit the pro-democracy movement:

“Some people are inclined to take the more punitive route based on their disgust at the Iranian government’s treatment of protesters. While the outrage is warranted, sanctions are a misguided and dangerous response. If we want to support the pro-democracy movement in Iran, we must follow its lead.”

For more of Griffin’s news and views on sanctions, click here.

Graphic exhibit shows ‘cost of war’

In foreign policy, media, war and peace on October 27, 2009 at 11:51 pm

When I first beginning flipping through the digital images, I was fine. The pictures mostly showed explosions and damaged cars and buildings. But as I got deeper into the exhibit, the photos got more and more gruesome. By the end, I was squinting my eyes and forcing myself to finish.

The photographers who took the pictures are both Israeli and Palestinian. They captured images, not of some foreign war zone, but of the war zone that is their backyards.

I think it’s necessary that we, as Americans, often remind ourselves of the costs of war.

The other day while reading an online news story about the Sunday car bombings in Iraq, I was struck by the lack of “real” photos — or those that accurately displayed the damages to human life.

American journalism censors images deemed too graphic for the pubic for various reasons. The reason cited more often than not, is a respect for the victims and their families.

I’ve usually agreed with this stance; feeling that some things are just too private to share with the world. Callous journalism concerned only with getting the story is not something I hope to achieve as a student of journalism.

But lately I’ve felt more and more that Americans, being so safely removed from the violence, have an immature view of war. And while many of us have friends and family serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, we have not personally experienced the gruesome scenes as the soldiers have.

My point is not to belittle Americans or suggest they haven’t paid for the cost of these wars. Many have. But when all we hear in the news is statistics of dead soldiers and civilians and stories of car bombs and insurgent fighting, we can’t possibly grasp the death and destruction actually taking place. Our imaginations fail us.

Beware of the Cost of War is an exhibit displaying the works of both Palestinian and Israeli photojournalist on the front lines of their conflict. It went on display Friday in various London studios and will be on display until Thursday. However, for those limited by travel, the exhibit can be seen online here.

The online exhibit initially displays the images with no captions. Hopefully this way, viewers will see the images without taking a “side” or making distinctions in nationality and religion.

One anti-war advocate still standing

In protest, war, war and peace on October 6, 2009 at 1:52 am

The anti-war left has virtually disappeared from Americas political scene since the inauguration of President Barack Obama. Shame on them.

The Iraq and Afghanistan wars have not improved — on the contrary, theyve only worsened. Violence has escalated. Increasing numbers of U.S. troops are being sent to Afghanistan while Iraq is being taken over by private contractors.

But one antiwar advocate, mother of slain soldier Cindy Sheehan, is not backing down.

Yesterday Sheehan, along with an estimated 500 protesters, gathered outside the White House to voice their opposition to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Sixty one people were arrested for failure to obey a lawful order after the crowd was repeatedly asked to move back from the sidewalk, according to CNN. Sheehan was among those arrested.


To those who believed electing Barack Obama meant change, its time to wake up. Anti-war leftists can no longer cling to the belief that Iraq and the war on terror were Bushs wars. Bush is out. Obama is in.

Hes been our Commander-in-Chief for more than 8 months now. If Barack Obama is serious about withdrawing troops from Iraq and Afghanistan he should do so.

At the  very least, he should not be in the process of leading Americans into future conflicts with Pakistan and Iran.