I am ready to take my stand on economic sanctions. Unless they are necessary and specifically targeted to affect the group or persons whose behavior who we seek to change, they are immoral. Here’s an article in the New York Times on the sanctions against Iran. I was chilled by this quote:
Obama administration officials were disturbed by a new analysis, prepared for the president and his staff, that paints a picture of the supreme leader as so walled off from what is happening with his country’s oil revenues that he is telling visitors that the sanctions are hurting the United States more than they are hurting Iran.
“The people may be suffering in Iran,” one senior official involved in Iran strategy said last week, “but the supreme leader isn’t, and he’s the only one who counts.”
That ought to call for a reassessment of sanctions. If they are hurting innocent people and not affecting the leaders, that is unfair to those who have to suffer. The Iranian people did not pursue these policies and they have no effective say in their regime. Try this poll of Iranian people taken by Gallup:
Iranians report feeling the effect of sanctions, but still support their country’s efforts to increase its nuclear capabilities. This may indicate that sanctions alone are not having the intended effect of persuading Iranian residents and country leaders to change their stance on the level of international oversight of their nuclear program.
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The effect of sanctions on Iranians’ livelihoods and the blame they place on the U.S. will continue to be a major challenge for the U.S. in Iran and in neighboring countries such as Iraq.
47% of Iranians blame the US for the sanctions while only 10% blame their own government. Let’s assume that Iranians are reluctant to criticize their own government. Still, we should put forth some other way to influence foreign governments. Economic sanctions have not worked and seem to be fomenting more anti-US feelings. Let’s consider and reassess ALL of our sanctions programs and tailor them to the group we seek to influence and make sure our sanctions regime are not mindless meddling (Magnitsky Act for example!) Of course, all economic sanctions laws must be obeyed while in effect.