When governments impose sanctions, the officials implementing the policy want to harm the dictator or bad guy heading the other country’s government. That’s the goal. What they do to achieve it is by intentionally or unintentionally harming many innocent people in those countries by cutting them off from food, medicine, and other goods that they need or value.
And what is the result? What do people in embargoed countries do when they find out that foreign governments threaten their survival? They don’t repent. They don’t change their government. They get angrier and blame sanctioning foreign government(s) for their woes. They respond in kind. That should be no surprise, its human nature. There is no case in history where as a result of sanctions imposed by government A on people in country B, country B’s people overthrew their own government.
Increasing sanctions on Iran enables the Iranian government the opportunity to change the subject — from their failed policies to nationalistic pride. That is what nuclear energy symbolizes for them anyway.
The current Western policy is counterproductive. It is pushing Khamenei in the wrong direction by increasingly cornering him. Researchers agree. A recent report by the RAND Corporation documented a growing corollary between the power of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard (a military branch associated with much of Iran’s corruption) and sanctions. In fact, “INCREASED U.S. sanctions on Iran are exactly what the Revolutionary Guard wants.” says Michael Axworthy, a lecturer in Middle Eastern and Iranian history at the University of Exeter in England. Increased sanctions on Iran will not serve U.S. interests. But isn’t this a tell on human nature: we do it anyway!
For all the pain they impose, sanctions usually do not succeed. There is a long history of failure to prove it. Lets review some: In 1935, The League of Nations sanctions imposed sanctions on Italy to force it out of Ethiopia. It failed. In Burma, sanctions have caused babies to die, young women to succumb to AIDS and families to go hungry. In Iraq, countless hundreds of thousands died. Child mortality sky rocketed! And we never changed their behavior.
More recently, UN sanctions have failed to induce Libya to turn over two citizens for trial in the Lockerbie airliner bombing, or to induce Iraq to substantially modify its policies. Unilateral sanctions, imposed by a single state, are even more likely to fizzle. The United States grain embargo against the Soviet Union in 1980 did not produce a Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, nor have the long and punishing sanctions by the United States against Cuba resulted in political change on that island. Sanctions are often ignored or circumvented by traders chasing a high profit margin. China is now a huge trading partner with Iran.
Sanctions empower dictators, they don’t remove them.
Unilateral sanctions can even backfire, harming exporters in the sanction-imposing country most of all. In the 1980 grain embargo, US farmers suffered more than Soviet consumers! It called “collateral damage” and it happens all the time to 3rd States.
12 years of sanctions on Iraq, 14 years of sanctions on Burma, 16 years of sanctions on Iran, 40 years of sanctions on Cuba.
What is the solution short of war?
The best way to change a regime is by killing them with kindness not punishment. Isn’t positive reinforcement accepted as the best way to rear children as well as pets? Why do we ignore that truth therefore when dealing with ‘enemies’?
Maybe here we can all learn something from the teachings of Jesus and the New Testament. Jesus gave us the secret of how to win against the bad guys. He said, “Do good to your enemies.” ..”By the measure you use, it will be measured unto you.”.. “He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword.” And later, the New Testament meets Old when Paul quotes Proverbs:
If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat;
if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.
The best way to destroy evil is not by doing more evil – its by doing good. Its reverse psychology and it works. Kill them with kindness. The Carrot gives better results than the stick.
Want a more western friendly government? Kill them with free market kindness. Trade more, not less!
A study noted the USA is the #1 initiator of economic sanctions and that just in the period 1993 to 1996, 61 US laws and executive actions were enacted authorizing unilateral economic sanctions. We sanctioned 42 % percent of the world’s population!
You can’t expect good if you sow darkness. Punishing entire populations even to death is not the moral high ground. The unilateral United States trade embargo of Cuba, in force since 1962, is currently opposed by a large majority of the world’s countries. In 1996, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution again condemning the embargo by the largest vote ever — 117 ayes, 3 nays.