Tag Archives: Sanctions

Curated Discourse, Narrative Artists and the Coming Conflicts, by Alastair Crooke

The Iranian government now has little interest in making any kind of common cause with the West. It will do what it perceives as best for Iran, and the price is sanctions from the West, so be it. From Alastair Crooke at strategic-culture.org:

If sanctions are not lifted, Iran will hit back. And Israel will try to deter Iran from pursuing its nuclear programme. The two will clash.

Here we go again. The narrative is being set. President Assad’s name cannot not be uttered in the West, save with a ‘chemical weapons’, and a ‘killing his own people’ gibe. It is just not permitted – even though this truth is disputed by some of the West’s own investigators. One is obliged to repeat this taunt, simply as the entry price to mainstream, ‘curated’ discourse.

Now, courtesy of some highly jaundiced members of the exile Iranian community in the West, the President-elect of Iran is being branded as criminal, and a figure exemplifying the “banal nature of evil”, for his 1988 involvement in the execution of Iranian dissidents. Indeed, Raisi already is under U.S. sanction for this offence, when “according to anti-Iranian folklore, hundreds of detainees were executed. But few know what really happened”, notes former Ambassador Bhadrakumar in the Asia Times.

“It is no secret that Washington encouraged Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein to wage war on Iran”, notes Bhadrakumar. “But after Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini accepted a UN-brokered ceasefire in 1988, members of the terrorist group Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK), based in Iraq – heavily armed by Saddam, and enjoying the backing of the CIA – stormed across the Iranian border in a surprise attack”. Bhadrakumar continues: “Iran smashed the MEK assault – and that set the stage for the so-called “death commissions” of prisoners, terrorists and others. Inevitably, those executed included agents of Western intelligence. The executions couldn’t have been carried out except on Khomeini’s orders. Raisi was a young man of 27 when reportedly, he served on a revolutionary panel involved in sentencing Iran’s enemies to death”.

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Escalate to Deescalate… Then Biden Takes Escalator Sideways, by Finian Cunningham

One thing can certainly be said about the Biden administration’s foreign policy—it’s not consistent. From Finian Cunningham at strategic-culture.org:

Washington must surely know that its escalations will be met with equal force from Russia and China, Finian Cunningham writes.

President Joe Biden wasn’t expecting Russia’s rapid slap back. He assumed, wrongly, that he could hit Moscow with a new round of sanctions (based on slanderous claims) and look as if he were chewing gum and acting the hard man.

Then slap. Russian responded immediately and firmly. Ten U.S. diplomats are to be expelled in a reciprocal response to Biden’s executive order last week to expel Russian diplomats.

Laughably, the Biden administration was aghast at the Russian sanctions. A State Department spokesman decried the Russian move as an “escalation” – unlike the American sanctions which, he said, were “proportionate”.

Proportionate to what? Well, to unfounded claims by the Biden administration that Russia had interfered in the 2020 presidential election, had launched cyberattacks on government and private companies, and was threatening Ukraine with aggression. But what if all these claims are baseless, which they are?

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The Modern US War Machine Kills More Like A Python Than A Tiger, by Caitlin Johnstone

Direct war is so twentieth century. Sanctions are slow strangulation and don’t have the optics problem of direct war. From Caitlin Johnstone at caitlinjohnstone.com:

Forbes has published two back-to-back articles about the analysis of retired Navy captain and political scientist Bradford Dismukes titled “To Defeat China In War, Strangle Its Economy” and “If Russia Invades Europe, NATO Could Sweep The Seas Of Russian Merchant Ships“.

The articles were authored by a man named David Axe, who is my new favorite small-time war propagandist because he’s so desperate to be recognized for his imperialist stenography that he often approaches his spin jobs in an informatively unskillful and ham-fisted way. The best one I’ve found so far is this 2013 piece about the time he spent with the “rebels” of Syria, who he takes great pains to assure us are not terrorists or extremists but brave freedom fighters who’d successfully “liberated” large swathes of Syrian territory.

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The Trump Administration’s Economic War on the World: Hitting Adversaries, Punishing Innocents, Angering Allies, by Doug Bandow

The Chinese government is going in for the US government’s game of madcap sanctioning, and the US government is mortally offended. From Doug Bandow at antiwar.com:

As if viewing gambling at Rick’s Café Americain in Casablanca, Washington policymakers are shocked, shocked to discover that China, too, can apply economic pressure. Complained the Heritage Foundation’s James Carafano: “the Chinese Communist government slapped sanctions on members of Congress as well as a U.S. ambassador. This action is intended to send the world a message: Fear us.”

Of course, the penalties Carafano complained of were retaliation for Washington’s imposition of similar sanctions on Chinese officials over the crackdown in Hong Kong. The bilateral pissing match will have no impact on Beijing’s policies.

Carafano is not the first person to complain about China’s economic sanctions. Mathew Ha of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies was upset by South Korea’s refusal to follow Washington’s criticism of the People’s Republic of China, which he blamed on fear of PRC economic retaliation. Washington Examiner columnist Tom Rogan voiced similar irritation with Beijing’s threatened economic retaliation after Canberra moved to counteract increased Chinese repression in Hong Kong.

Imagine. China is acting like … the US!

It’s almost charming to see such anger over Beijing’s behavior when America continues to be the global leader in using its economic power to penalize governments which refuse to heed its commands. In January the president said he would punish Iraq if it acted like a sovereign state and insisted on the withdrawal of American troops.

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America’s Supernational Sovereignty, by Philip Giraldi

Supernational Sovereignty is a fancy way of saying the US government thinks it has the right to tell the whole world what to do. From Philip Giraldi at unz.com:

One of the most disturbing aspects of American foreign policy since 9/11 has been the assumption that decisions made by the United States are binding on the rest of the world, best exemplified by President George W. Bush’s warning that “there was a new sheriff in town.” Apart from time of war, no other nation has ever sought to prevent other nations from trading with each other, nor has any government sought to punish foreigners using sanctions with the cynical arrogance demonstrated by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The United States uniquely seeks to penalize other sovereign countries for alleged crimes that did not occur in the U.S. and that did not involve American citizens, while also insisting that all nations must comply with whatever penalties are meted out by Washington. At the same time, it demonstrates its own hypocrisy by claiming sovereign immunity whenever foreigners or even American citizens seek to use the courts to hold it accountable for its many crimes.

The conceit by the United States that it is the acknowledged judge, jury and executioner in policing the international community began in the post-World War 2 environment, when hubristic American presidents began referring to themselves as “leaders of the free world.” This pretense received legislative and judicial backing with passage of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1987 (ATA) as amended in 1992 plus subsequent related legislation, to include the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act of 2016 (JASTA). The body of legislation can be used to obtain civil judgments against alleged terrorists for attacks carried out anywhere in the world and can be employed to punish governments, international organizations and even corporations that are perceived to be supportive of terrorists, even indirectly or unknowingly. Plaintiffs are able to sue for injuries to their “person, property, or business” and have ten years to bring a claim.

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The Real Reason Russia Teamed up with China…Here’s What Comes Next for American Preeminence and the Dollar, by Vladimir Pozner

The US essentially drove Russia into China’s loving arms. From Vladimir Pozner at internationalman.com:

russia and china

Editor’s Note: Vladimir Pozner is Russia’s most influential political TV talk-show host, journalist and broadcaster.

Pozner has hosted several shows on Russian television, where he has interviewed famous figures such as Hillary Clinton, Alain Delon, President Dimitri Medvedev and Sting.

Pozner has appeared on a wide range of networks, including NBC, CBS, CNN and the BBC. He has worked as a journalist, editor (Soviet Life Magazine and Sputnik Magazine) and TV and radio commentator in a long career covering many major events in Russia.

Pozner has appeared on The Phil Donahue Show and Ted Koppel’s Nightline. He has also worked for the Institute for US and Canadian Studies, a Soviet think tank.

He co-hosted a show with Phil Donahue called Pozner/Donahue. It was the first televised bi-lateral discussion (or “spacebridge”) between audiences in the Soviet Union and the US, carried via satellite.

In 1997, he returned to Moscow as an independent journalist.

Doug Casey’s friend Mark Gould sat down with Pozner in Moscow to help us better understand the relationship between the US and Russia.

International Man: Do you see a resurging Russia and a restoration of Russian Empire, or simply a national state resurgence?

Vladimir Pozner: Certainly not. Russia is not a resurging empire. There is no way it’s ever going to be an empire again.

Empires have this universal feature of disappearing forever, whether it’s ancient Rome or whether it’s the UK or whatever. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.

It’s not going to come back, and people have to come to terms with that. Russia has been an empire since the days of Peter the Great— we’re talking about the 18th century. It is used to being an empire. The Soviet Union was an empire.

The loss of an empire is painful. It’s like when you lose a leg but have phantom pains—the leg isn’t there, but it still hurts.

Well, that’s what’s going on. Psychologically, it’s difficult to accept. So, you have a certain degree of nationalism, chauvinism—and it’s part of growing out of what you were once upon a time and becoming something else.

Is that happening in Russia? Yes.

Is it painful? Yes, it’s painful. Is there a deep divide between the older generation and the younger generation? There’s always a divide, but in this case, a very deep divide.

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The Real Reason for the New Cold War with Russia… What it Means for the Markets and World Peace, by International Man

A knowledgable Russian’s view of the US-Russian relationship. From internationalman.com:

New Cold War

Editor’s Note: Vladimir Pozner is Russia’s most influential TV political-talk-show host, journalist and broadcaster.

Pozner has hosted several shows on Russian television, where he has interviewed famous figures such as Hillary Clinton, Alain Delon, President Dimitri Medvedev and Sting.

Pozner has appeared on a wide range of networks, including NBC, CBS, CNN and the BBC. In his long career, he has been a journalist, editor (Soviet Life Magazine and Sputnik Magazine) and TV and radio commentator, covering all major events in Russia.

Pozner has appeared on The Phil Donahue Show and Ted Koppel’s Nightline.

He co-hosted a show with Phil Donahue called Pozner/Donahue. It was the first televised bi-lateral discussion (or “spacebridge”) between audiences in the Soviet Union and the US, carried via satellite.

In 1997, he returned to Moscow as an independent journalist.

Doug Casey’s friend Mark Gould sat down with Pozner in Moscow to help us better understand the relationship between the US and Russia.

 —

International Man: Naturally, Americans have a lot of misconceptions about Russia. The US government and media offer an overly simplistic and unfavorable view of the country.

What does the US government and media get wrong?

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Dual Paths in Dark Times: Despair or Hope for Antiwar Dreamers, by Danny Sjursen

One benefit of the coronavirus panic: the US is leaving some of its smaller military bases in foreign lands because of the virus. From Danny Sjursen at antiwar.com:

“Red” (Morgan Freeman): “Hope is a dangerous thing my friend, it can kill a man…”

Andy (Tim Robbins): “Remember, Red. Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”

~ The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Two futures lie before us. Like the classic visions of late-Old Testament prophets, contemporary observers – perhaps voyeurs – of U.S. national security policy can, at this precipice of pandemic, discern, however vaguely, as dual, dichotomous prospective paths unfurl. The first, and Washington’s long-preferred, course is one of militarist escalation. It’s contours are there for us to see.

In the past couple of weeks, the Pentagon has unapologetically ramped up its proxy war with Iran – on the soil of an unmistakably unwilling “sovereign” state which has politely, if futilely, asked the US military to leave – by bombing, and killing, third-party “allies” of the Islamic Republic.

Then, though it was hardly covered or noticed, Washington killed a Somali child and an elderly disabled man in an airstrike: the 31st such US attack-from-the-sky in a Trump-accelerated campaign upon yet another country we are not at war with. US Africa Command announced, of course, that five “terrorists” had been killed in the strike with zero reports of civilian casualties. Well, naturally, it helps to have folks on the ground (hardly the norm for America’s techno-killers) to accurately access victim-status. Which is probably one reason – besides flagrant duplicity – that a UK-based airstrike monitoring group’s relevant report estimates Somali civilian casualties in US attacks since 2007 may be 73 times higher than official Pentagon claims.

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Stop Tightening the Thumb Screws, A Humanitarian Message, by Kathy Kelly

Coronavirus poses a threat to all of humanity, except for Iranians, whose deaths are to be welcomed. From Kathy Kelly at antiwar.com:

U.S. sanctions against Iran, cruelly strengthened in March of 2018, continue a collective punishment of extremely vulnerable people. Presently, the US”maximum pressure” policy severely undermines Iranian efforts to cope with the ravages of COVID-19, causing hardship and tragedy while contributing to the global spread of the pandemic. On March 12, 2020, Iran’s Foreign Minister Jawad Zarif urged member states of the UN to end the United States’ unconscionable and lethal economic warfare.

Addressing UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, Zarif detailed how US economic sanctions prevent Iranians from importing necessary medicine and medical equipment.

For over two years, while the US bullied other countries to refrain from purchasing Iranian oil, Iranians have coped with crippling economic decline.

The devastated economy and worsening coronavirus outbreak now drive migrants and refugees, who number in the millions, back to Afghanistan at dramatically increased rates.

In the past two weeks alone, more than 50,000 Afghans returned from Iran, increasing the likelihood that cases of coronavirus will surge in Afghanistan. Decades of war, including US invasion and occupation, have decimatedAfghanistan’s health care and food distribution systems.

Jawad Zarif asks the UN to prevent the use of hunger and disease as a weapon of war. His letter demonstrates the wreckage caused by many decades of United States imperialism and suggests revolutionary steps toward dismantling the United States war machine.

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A New Definition of Warfare, by Philip Giraldi

Are sanctions war by another means? From Philip Giraldi at unz.com:

Supporters of Donald Trump often make the point that he has not started any new wars. One might observe that it has not been for lack of trying, as his cruise missile attacks on Syria based on fabricated evidence and his recent assassination of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani have been indisputably acts of war. Trump also has enhanced troop levels both in the Middle East and in Afghanistan while also increasing the frequency and lethality of armed drone attacks worldwide.

Congress has been somewhat unseriously toying around with a tightening of the war powers act of 1973 to make it more difficult for a president to carry out acts of war without any deliberation by or authorization from the legislature. But perhaps the definition of war itself should be expanded. The one area where Trump and his team of narcissistic sociopaths have been most active has been in the imposition of sanctions with lethal intent. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been explicit in his explanations that the assertion of “extreme pressure” on countries like Iran and Venezuela is intended to make the people suffer to such an extent that they rise up against their governments and bring about “regime change.” In Pompeo’s twisted reckoning that is how places that Washington disapproves of will again become “normal countries.”

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