Trump’s sanctions have created both unimaginable alliances and unimaginable losses for America
By: Rachel Marsden
Sanctions-obsessed neoconservatives in the Trump administration led by Mike Pompeo and since-fired John Bolton have inadvertently created and strengthened partnerships that were previously unthinkable.
The Trump administration has turned economic sanctions into a joke, exposing them for what they really are: tools to tilt the global economic playing field in America’s favor in the guise of defending human rights. Any humanitarian justification for sanctions goes right out the window when the screws of increasingly harsher sanctions are turned on countries struggling for medical and economic relief amid the global Covid-19 crisis.
The logic of Trump’s neocon foreign policy architects seems to be that by cutting off basic survival requirements of citizens in countries the interests of which don’t align with those of the Washington establishment, these besieged foreigners will be inclined to do Washington’s bidding and overthrow their own government. But that’s not what’s actually happening. People know the difference between problems caused by their leaders and those imposed by foreign actors. And while they may dislike or disagree with the actions of their governments, it’s a huge leap to presume they’re going to just accept whatever strategies or opposition puppet Washington has chosen for them.
Imagine how that kind of arrogance would go over in the US if the tables were turned. Picture some random country saying America was a rogue state requiring regime change for the ultimate global good, and it was going to isolate the US economically from the rest of the planet. Oh, and here’s some random guy who we’d like to run the country. Americans’ reaction would probably be something like, “Hey, we know we have problems, but stay out of our business!” So, why does the US think Iranians would react any differently?
And when Iranians can’t get medical supplies, they know why – primarily because Trump’s big-brained neocons, like Pompeo, have announced to the world that they’re tightening sanctions on Iran and that’s impacted essential medical and humanitarian supplies.
So the US should hardly be surprised that the strategy has backfired – and spectacularly so, according to remarks this week in the European Parliament. The European Union’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, said US sanctions have turned Iranians even further against America. “These difficulties have also had a political impact in Iran, not least at the parliamentary election earlier this year,”Borrell said. “We have seen a strengthening of those opposed to the nuclear deal, who are distrustful of the West, and who do not support diplomacy and engagement.”
Europe has been short-circuiting US sanctions and selling medical supplies to Iran through a new barter mechanism called INSTEX that it had to create for European companies to, themselves, avoid US sanctions. (What a way to annoy your allies, too, by the way.) That mechanism is the only connection now left between the Iranian people and any faith in Western diplomacy.
The hope now for people living under US sanctions regimes is coming from other fellow sanctions-targeted countries. Once you’re labeled a pariah by the US and tossed into that club, it’s like the Eagles’ song ‘Hotel California’ – you can check out, but you can never leave. At least not until the US gets what it wants from you at the cost of selling out your own citizens. So you may as well work together as the untouchables.
So, now Iran is shipping crude oil to sanctioned Venezuela, Venezuela is shipping diesel and other oil products to sanctioned Cuba, and Russia and China are increasingly filling economic and trade voids in countries jilted by the US.
The US may, in some cases, be alarmed at the East moving onto its turf, but when you dump and subsequently harass a one-time fling or a former partner and force them to move on, no one has to indulge you when you stand up at their wedding and object to the new union. You blew your chance, pal. Now all you can really do is badmouth them to all your friends on social media – or from the podium at the State Department.
The US has also failed to seduce the targets of its military tough love. Invading and sanctioning Syria hasn’t resulted in any economic gains for America. President Donald Trump can claim all he wants that the US is keeping Syrian oil, but Syria is not a significant oil producer – and the US has plenty of oil already. And good luck trying to home in on any other economic sector of a country you’ve tried your best to ruin. Russia will have first dibs on any new opportunities, given its efforts at the behest of the Syrian government to help oust jihadists and stabilize the country.
Recent reports suggest China is now moving into other countries war-torn by the US, such as Afghanistan and Iraq. Under the pretext of building new infrastructure, China is expanding its political influence – made possible, in part, by the devastation left behind by American military intervention.
Whatever Trump’s neocons figured their long-term strategy was in using sanctions as a foreign policy tool, in the short term, it’s been nothing but an abysmal failure. Their ignorance and recklessness have sparked a rewiring of the world to circumvent their harsh demands and restrictions, and support the rise of alternative regional and global powers.
COPYRIGHT 2020 RACHEL MARSDEN