North America The Evil of Sanctions

The Evil of Sanctions


After maneuvering Russia into choosing either (1) to permit the U.S. to install its missiles, bases, troops, tanks, and weaponry along Russia’s border in Ukraine or (2) to invade Ukraine to prevent that from happening, President Biden, the Pentagon, and the CIA are now responding to Russia’s choice of (2) by imposing brutal sanctions on the Russian people. 

Oh sure, they are making out like the sanctions are targeting Russian President Putin and the Russian “elites” in the government that are supporting the invasion. But that’s just another lie. In fact, the sanctions are designed to do the same thing as the sanctions against Iran, Cuba (i.e., the embargo), North Korea, China, Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. They are designed to squeeze the Russian people with impoverishment and even death in the hope that they will protest and cause Russian President Vladimir Putin to change course or even violently revolt against Putin’s regime.

Of course, never mind that some protestors are likely to get killed or that a revolution would mean thousands of deaths. That never matters to U.S. officials. What matters is the political goal they are striving to achieve with their sanctions. Any number of foreigners who get killed in the process of trying to achieve that goal is entirely acceptable. That’s why, for example, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright exclaimed that the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children from the sanctions on Iraq were “worth it.”

The first thing that must be recognized is the fundamental evil of targeting innocent people with death and impoverishment as a way to achieve a political goal. Isn’t that why we condemn terrorism? Where is the moral justification for targeting the Russian people with death and impoverishment simply because their government is doing something that is illegal or unjustifiable? 

The problem is that the American people have become so accustomed to sanctions and embargoes as a foreign policy tool that they unable to recognize the evil on which they are based. But the fact is that sanctions and embargoes are no different in principle from terrorism, in that they both target innocent people with death and suffering as a way to achieve a political goal.

The second thing that must be recognized: Sanctions don’t achieve their political goal, which means that the death and suffering they inflict is useless. 

Consider the 60-year embargo on Cuba. It was intended to oust Fidel Castro from power and, after he died, to oust Cuba’s communist regime from power and replace it with another pro-U.S. dictatorship. It still hasn’t achieved its goal, notwithstanding the death and suffering it has inflicted on the Cuban people for six decades.

Consider the brutal system of sanctions on Iraq. It contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of children — yes, children! — and it still did not succeed in ousting the Pentagon’s longtime partner and ally, Saddam Hussein, from power. 

Consider the brutal sanctions against Iran. U.S. officials have targeted the Iranian people with death and suffering in the hope that they will rise up and oust Iran’s anti-U.S. regime and replace it with with another pro-U.S. dictatorship, similar to that of the Shah of Iran, who the CIA installed into power with a coup in 1953. Despite the death and suffering among the Iranian people, Iran’s theocratic dictatorship remains in power. 

Third is a point that Biden’s, the Pentagon’s, and the CIA’s Operation Mockingbird assets in the mainstream press just don’t get or don’t care about: U.S. sanctions imposed on Russia and other countries constitute a direct infringement on the liberty of the American people. 

Under principles of liberty, people have the right to trade with whomever they want and to travel wherever they want. Those are fundamental, natural, God-given rights that no government, not even the U.S. government, can legitimately infringe. 

Yet, that is precisely what U.S. sanctions do. They contribute to the destruction of our own rights and liberties at the hands of our own government. 

Thus, we have the spectacle of the U.S. national-security establishment, through its NATO machinations, making Russia one of its official enemies, then cornering Russia into invading Ukraine (versus permitting U.S. missiles, bases, tanks, and troops to be established on Russia’s border), and then using this manufactured crisis to further destroy the rights and liberties of the American citizenry.

Our ancestors warned us about this type of thing. That’s why they called into existence a limited-government republic and rejected the national-security state form of governmental structure under which we now live. That’s why there was no Pentagon, military-industrial complex, CIA, or NSA for the first 150 years of American history. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson warned us against “entangling alliances,” such as NATO. John Quincy Adams, in his 1821 speech “In Search of Monsters to Destroy,” explained the reasons for America’s founding foreign policy of non-interventionism into the affairs and crises of foreign nations. 

An updated warning came in President Eisenhower’s Farewell Address where he pointed out that the “military-industrial complex” posed a grave threat to the freedom and democratic processes of the American people. His warning was followed by that of President Kennedy, the last president who was wiling to stand up against the overwhelming power of the national-security establishment. Kennedy’s warning was followed by that of former President Truman, who, thirty days after JFK was killed, pointed out that the CIA had become a sinister force in American life. 

It’s time for Americans to do some serious soul-searching. The question should not be what to do about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The big question to be discussed and debated shoud instead be: Should America restore its founding systems of a limited-government republic and a non-interventionist foreign policy and get America back on the road toward liberty, peace, prosperity, and harmony with the people of the world?

Jacob G. Hornberger
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