Sanctioning Silliness

The big revelation about Iran’s newest nuclear plant has the world community (at least the Western part of it) in arms and threatening more sanctions. I’ve advocated here before about working more diplomatically and less belligerently with Iran. During the same week, we learn that Secretary of State Clinton is willing to renegotiate our sanctions with the military junta that rules Burma.

I would welcome any examples of when sanctions against a country have actually worked in effecting change in a government or their policies that we disagreed with. The most famous one we in the US are familiar with is that of Cuba. What has that done other than provide a holiday destination for Europeans sans their American compatriots and preserve cars from the 1950s? Castro and his cohorts still rule the country and have been able to do so for quite a while. The Iraq sanctions that we had since 1991 really worked. Well, maybe they did as we never found the rumored WMDs. But the people were left worse off, the same as in Iran, and the same as people in any country we sanction with the UN approval or that of our other allies. The people are the only ones that suffer while their governments are able to make whatever deals they can to skirt the sanctions.

2 Comments

  1. Chris

    Excellent points.

    The sanctions will no doubt backfire by driving the Iranian people into the arms of their current government. Meanwhile, the only people that will starve are the poor people in the country and the weapons program will go on unabated.

    The difference between the Iraqi example and Iran is that we were more or less bombing them daily for ~10 years. Hard to make any significant military strides under that kind of umbrella.

    Also, if you get a chance, check out the Greenwald article I linked in the sidebar: http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/09/28/countries/index.html
    It shows how arbitrarily we treat allied and enemy nations regardless of their conduct.

  2. Ian

    I’m not so sure the point of sanctions is to discipline. I think the idea is to contain and cripple. In that sense, it was successful in Cuba. It also made the overthrow of Saddam’s government in Iraq as easy as blowing over a house of cards. Its possible that this is just the first step in the West’s ousting of Iran’s government.