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Articles

Sanctions on Iran Are Not the Answer

Published in Foreign Policy .

On Monday, June 24, 2019, President Donald Trump’s administration announced the imposition of additional sanctions on Iran. More recently, the administration has imposed sanctions on Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

These sanctions, which target the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, and several other bigwigs in the Iranian regime, deny the Ayatollah and his cronies access to financial instruments.

In June, Trump said, “the Supreme Leader of Iran is one who ultimately is responsible for the hostile conduct of the regime.”

He then rationalized the sanctions as a “strong and proportionate response to Iran’s increasingly provocative actions,” citing the downing of an unmanned U.S. surveillance drone near Iranian waters and the attacks on oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz as the causes behind his recent action.

Apart from targeting Khamenei, the sanctions were applied on military officer Alireza Tangsiri who threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz during these tensions.

Iran justified its attack on a U.S. drone for its alleged violation of Iranian airspace. However, American officials argued that the aircraft was in international airspace, declaring that Iran’s action was “unprovoked.” In the wake of this incident, neoconservatives were thirsty for a strong U.S. response. However, Trump trusted his gut and decided to call off a retaliatory strike that would have likely resulted in the deaths of 150 Iranians.

“We do not seek conflict with Iran or any other country,” Trump reiterated.

He added, “I look forward to discussing whatever I have to discuss with anybody that wants to speak. In the meantime, who knows what’s going to happen. I can only tell you we cannot ever let Iran have a nuclear weapon.”

Trump should be commended for his decision to not use force against Iran. However, the sanction approach he is using is misguided at best, especially if it involves broad-based sanctions that could potentially hurt the Iranian people. Ron Paul candidly observed that sanctions “are just another form of war.” Instead of targeting a rogue government’s military forces, sanctions wind up hurting innocent civilians who have nothing to do with the conflict at hand.  

This just goes to show how powerful certain defense interests are in D.C. They will do whatever it takes to see their regime change agenda through. Even with a president who has signaled his desire to no longer have the U.S. government policing the world, these entrenched interest groups find ways to influence the current administration’s foreign policy decision-making.

We are witnessing the real “deep state” in action as it tries to perpetuate itself in power and make sure that U.S. politics does not deviate from the previous neoconservative political order. Some problems in American politics go beyond who’s at the helm of the presidency.


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