Get Off the Road to War: Stop the Sanctions on Iran (Michael S. Rozeff)
Thursday February 2nd, 2012
It would be nice if the U.S. kept its word when it signs those international agreements that are in some kind of accord with rights and advance the international maintenance of rights.
The U.S. has not done this with Iran.
The U.S. and Iran signed the Algiers Accords in 1981 to end the hostage crisis. See also here. Point 1 of the accords is titled "Non-Intervention in Iranian Affairs". It reads (in full):
"The United States pledges that it is and from now on will be the policy of the United States not to intervene, directly or indirectly, politically or militarily, in Iran's internal affairs." This is a pragmatically wise policy. Moreover, it is in the direction of respecting the rights of Iranians and also those non-Iranians who have dealings with Iranians. Overall, it is an agreement that settled a potentially explosive situation. It moved toward peace.
It’s too bad that the U.S. didn’t continue the motion toward peace. The U.S. had other ideas.
The U.S. didn’t want to make peace between it and Iran a policy. It wanted to un-do the Iranian Revolution. The U.S. did not follow up the Algiers Accords with further moves toward peace.
It did just the opposite.
The U.S. didn’t keep the bargain. It sided with Iraq after Iraq invaded Iran in 1980. It imposed sanctions in 1984, 1987 and in the 1990s. A review of sanctions is here. The U.S. tried to destabilize the Iranian government, isolate it and keep it out of the World Trade organization. See here.
Economic sanctions enacted by Congress are politically-caused interference. The Senate Banking Committee is about to enact more of these sanctions. Their open aim is "to force Iran to abandon its nuclear ambitions". This is political interference. This violates the Algiers Accords.
There is a rather long list of measures that the Committee says is "designed to increase pressure on Iran’s government." The political interference of these sanctions is evident from the latter statement. In addition, the Senate measure directly targets the IRGC (Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps). This is a branch of Iran's military, with obvious political importance.
The U.S. government is once again violating the Algiers Accords, as it has in the past. However, the U.S. has not officially abrogated the Algiers Accords. It will only do so when it decides it can gain from doing so. It wants to maintain the option, for example, to seize Iranian assets.
Meanwhile, the U.S. is acting hypocritically as explained here by supporting the Accords’ provisions against lawsuits brought by the hostages.
Experiencing the sanctions for decades, observing all this and knowing what happened to Gaddafi, how can Iran trust the word of the U.S.? How can it view the U.S. as anything but a hostile power that is aiming to un-do its revolution? And when Israel, an ally of the U.S., makes strong and plain threats against Iran, what else can Iran think but that the U.S. and Israel are out to get it, not just halt its nuclear program, but overturn it and introduce the regime change that some like Tom Ridge have openly advocated?
The U.S. Banking Committee acknowledges that previous U.S. sanctions haven't achieved their objective. They say "it is now clear that the steps taken thus far by the international community have not been sufficient to force Iran to abandon its nuclear ambitions."
It has been argued by Lieutenant Colonel George T. Doran of the United States Air Force that economic sanctions are futile. Others have reached similar conclusions after studying many cases of economic sanctions.
It is not hard to understand why economic sanctions might hurt a country's economy or hurt companies that deal with a sanctioned country but still not cause the leaders of that country's state to alter a targeted policy or policies. One reason is that the leaders of a state are only indirectly affected by sanctions. They stand in a rather insulated and remote relation to political pressures from below that arise from sanctions. Any country has many political currents of which sanctions are only one. Another is that people in the country may rally around their government. A third reason is that sanctioned countries find ways around the sanctions, using other markets or trades.
Sanctions have other negative effects such as reducing the likelihood of diplomacy, raising the chance of war, raising the chance of retaliation, reducing trade and human exchanges, and driving a state to become isolated and more self-sufficient.
U.S. sanctions are said by the Senate Banking Committee to have slowed Iran's nuclear program, a program that is allowable and legal under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (another accord that the U.S. has not lived up to), but where is the evidence that this is the case? How could the senators know this when that program has been interfered with by computer viruses introduced from without and from assassinations of nuclear scientists?
And even if Iran's peaceful nuclear program has been slowed by sanctions, what does that mean when we consider the objectives of the U.S. government? If Iran appears still to be achieving its objective but on a slower time frame, does that mean that the U.S. or Israel will ratchet up their actions and start a war to force Iran to stop what sanctions have failed to stop? In other words, once the U.S. has set forth on a path to interfere with Iran politically, if only by sanctions and then stiffer sanctions, it appears to have committed itself to continue on that path, even if the eventual outcome is outright war. That was the outcome in Iraq and Libya.
More and stiffer sanctions will not cause Iran to change its tune, not if the following accurately reflects the views of Iran’s most important leader:
"Khamenei has been described as consistent in his opposition to the United States and the Western World in general, reportedly including this theme into his speeches no matter whether the topic is foreign policy, agriculture or education. He has declared that it is ‘clear that conflict and confrontation between’ Islamic Republic of Iran and the U.S. ‘is something natural and unavoidable’ since the United States ‘is trying to establish a global dictatorship and further its own interests by dominating other nations and trampling on their rights.’ However, while ‘cutting ties with America is among our basic policies,’ and ‘any relations would provide the possibility to the Americans to infiltrate Iran and would pave the way for their intelligence and spy agents,’ Khamenei holds the door open to relations with the U.S. at some future date, saying ‘we have never said that the relations will remain severed forever. Undoubtedly, the day the relations with America prove beneficial for the Iranian nation I will be the first one to approve of that.’ However, in a speech to Iranian students on October 29, 2008, which was quoted on Iranian TV (as translated by MEMRI), Khamenei stated that ‘the Iranian people's hatred for America is profound. The reason for this [hatred] is the various plots that the U.S. government has concocted against Iran and the Iranian people in the past 50 years. The Americans have not only refused to apologize for their actions, but have continued with their arrogant actions.’" This passage does not depict a man willing to be humiliated. Why should he back off of a peaceful nuclear program? Why should he implicitly acknowledge a kind of guilt or wrong-doing when Iran is blameless?
If sanctions do not have their intended effect, then war with Iran comes closer. Sanctions should be stopped.
Even forgetting sanctions, Israel is a loose cannon unless restrained by the U.S., or so it appears to us who are not privy to the secret communications between these two governments.
The situation is dangerous and getting more dangerous. Stop the sanctions against Iran. Sit on Israel. Shift onto the road to peace. Get off the road to war.
Michael S. Rozeff [send him mail] is a retired Professor of Finance living in East Amherst, New York. He is the author of the free e-book Essays on American Empire: Liberty vs. Domination and the free e-book The U.S. Constitution and Money: Corruption and Decline.
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