Tag Archives: US sanctions

The US Has Placed Itself In Charge Over Which Nations Get To Eat, by Caitlin Johnstone

If your country doesn’t toe the US line and it’s not big enough to tell US to jump in lake, you don’t get to eat. From Caitlin Johnstone at caitlinjohnstone.com:

The globally influential propaganda multiplier news agencies AP and AFP have both informed their readers that a “fugitive” has been extradited to the United States.

“Fugitive businessman close to Venezuela’s Maduro extradited to US,” reads the AFP headline.

“Alex Saab, a top fugitive close to Venezuela’s socialist government, has been put on a plane to the U.S. to face money laundering charges,” AP announced on Twitter.

You’d be forgiven for wondering what specifically makes this man a “fugitive”, and what that status has to do with his extradition to a foreign government whose laws should have no bearing on his life. The Colombian-born Venezuelan citizen Alex Saab, as it happens, is a “fugitive” from the US government’s self-appointed authority to decide which populations on our planet are permitted to have ready access to food. His crime is working to circumvent the crushing US sanctions which have been starving Venezuelan civilians to death by the tens of thousands.

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The Banality of Evil on Sanctions, by Jacob G. Hornberger

The US government imposes so many sanctions that most Americans ignore them, and consequently have no idea of the harm they inflict on innocent people. Yet, they’re shocked when they learn the US isn’t universally loved. From Jacob G. Hornberger at fff.org:

The banality of evil within the mainstream press when it comes to actions carried out by the U.S. national-security establishment never ceases to amaze me. The latest example appears in the New York Times in an investigative piece that absolutely stunned me. The piece consists of a video that details an extensive investigation into a ship that was suspected of violating the system of economic sanctions that the U.S. government and the UN have imposed on North Korea.

The video was put together by what the Times calls its “Visual Investigative Team.” The video, according to the Times, “examines the maze of connections behind secret oil deliveries to North Korea, in defiance of international sanctions.” There are five staff members who were assigned this task. They say that they “spent months reviewing ship-tracking data, corporate records and satellite imagery to uncover one way North Korea evades strict international sanctions.” They didn’t say how much their investigation cost but my hunch is at least a few million dollars.

To which I ask: Who cares? Or to put it another way: Why shouldn’t North Korea evade those “strict international sanctions”? What’s wrong with doing so? Why should their attempts to evade the sanctions be investigated and reported on by the U.S. mainstream press?

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Market Friday: Iran, Bitcoin and The Sanctions That Won’t Be, by Tom Luongo

Iran may be on to something. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:

Amidst all the posturing, fretting and craziness leading up to the election on Tuesday the thing that jumped out of my Twitter feed was this 2 minute video from PressTV.

Watch it. I’ll wait.

… Done? Good.

Let’s get started.

This came from Press TV, the Iranian equivalent of the BBC but without so much British Marxism. So, it’s as official as official gets.

Iran will use bitcoin as part of its import settlement system. It will export bitcoins and import things barred to it from the U.S.

Do you really think this policy will stop here?

The video reminds us that Iran has been building this case for the use of bitcoin to evade U.S. sanctions for years. This is a strategic move, not a fly-by-night operation like Venezuela’s Petro.

They could have gone the China or European Union route, push for a Central Bank Digital Currency completely controlled by the government.

You know, the worst possible arrangement, a cryptocurrency run by central bankers, i.e. Ripple.

But that would gain them nothing. Who would use a digital rial when no one wants the current rial?

Instead Iran embraced bitcoin because it had no other choice. The rial has been effectively destroyed by U.S. sanctions and the country is starving for a currency which accretes value to the user rather than steals it.

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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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Don’t Mess With the U.S. (Financially), by Jim Rickards

Having the world’s reserve currency means you can create all sorts of mischief and never say you’re sorry. From Jim Rickards at dailyreckoning.com:

I’ve been documenting financial warfare in my articles for years, but it still doesn’t get the mainstream attention it deserves.

Because as you’ll see below, it can directly impact your wealth.

Financial warfare tools include account seizures and freezes, expulsion from global payment systems, secondary fines and penalties on banks that do business with targeted entities, embargoes, tariffs and many other impositions.

These tools are amplified by the unique role of the U.S. dollar, which is the currency behind 60% of global reserves, 80% of global payments and almost 100% of transactions in oil.

The U.S. controls the banks and payments systems that process dollar transactions. This leaves the U.S. well positioned to impose dollar-related sanctions.

Much has been made of the recent killing of Iranian terrorist mastermind Qasem Soleimani. Many say it was an act of war. But guess what, folks?

We’ve been in a full-scale war with Iran for two years now. It’s just that most people don’t realize it.

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US Sanctions Against Venezuela Will Hurt Americans, by Ryan McMaken

Name a US sanction that has achieved its stated goal against the target of the sanction. Take your time; we’ve got all night. Can’t do it? From Ryan McMaken at ronpaulinstitute.org:

After fifty years of imposing embargoes and other sanctions, the United States never managed to topple Cuba’s communist regime. After forty years of the same in Iran, the US met with similar amounts of success. Ongoing sanctions against North Korea have not toppled to regime there.

But, some people in Washington won’t let decades of failure dissuade them.

Last week, Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) introduced new legislation to bar Americans from importing oil products from Venezuela. The Washington Examiner reports:

[T]he Protecting Against Tyranny and Responsible Imports Act, or the PATRIA Act … would target Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro after he stripped the country’s democratically elected national assembly of its power and authority. According to the bill, the proposed ban on imports would last until the assembly’s power is fully restored.

‘The goal is to change the conduct, the character of the Venezuelan government under Maduro. I think the window is closing,’ Coffman told the Washington Examiner. ‘They are dependent upon the export of oil really to fund their government, and without that, they can’t pay their security forces.’

Experience suggests there is little reason to believe that sanctions will cause the regime to give up in Venezuela. If the regime has less oil money with which to pay the military, the regime can always steal more from the average citizen to make up the difference. In other words, ordinary Venezuelans will suffer more in response to US sanctions. 

Moreover, aggressive moves such as these against the Venezuelan regime have tended to only solidify support for the regime among its supporters. Both the current president Maduro, and his predecessor Hugo Chávez, were both successful in building support for themselves on a platform of opposing US meddling in Venezuelan political and economic institutions. 

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