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U.S. Government Confirms Sanctions Don’t Work


Even while employing sanctions against Iran, the U.S. government is confirming that sanctions do not work.

The Chinese government has threatened to impose sanctions on the United States if the U.S. government persists in its decision to sell weapons, including F-16s, to Taiwan. According to the New York Times, the threat was issued by a top Chinese military official, who did not specify what the sanctions would be. However, a possibility would be the wholesale dumping of U.S. government securities onto the international financial markets. Those instruments represent the enormous amounts of money that China has loaned the U.S. government to fund its enterprises in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Notwithstanding the U.S. government’s steadfast insistence that its sanctions will induce Iranian government officials to submit to U.S. demands regarding its nuclear program, the U.S. government is steadfastly refusing to succumb to China’s threat to impose sanctions on the United States.

Wouldn’t you think that U.S. officials would want to use this opportunity to show the world that sanctions really do work? Imagine: U.S. officials could announce, “Given China’s threat to impose sanctions on our country, we have decided to not go forward with our plans to sell weaponry to Taiwan.” What better way to show that sanctions work than that?

But we all know that that isn’t going to happen. U.S. government officials are a proud bunch. They’re not about to let Chinese government officials push them around.

But what about China’s ability to dump all those U.S. debt instruments onto the market. Surely U.S. officials realize that such an action could cause untold monetary havoc for the U.S. dollar and, thus, severely threaten the financial well-being of the American people.

It doesn’t matter. U.S. officials would never bow to the demands of China’s government, no matter how high the cost to the American citizenry.

But the obvious questions arise? Why wouldn’t Iranian officials be expected to react in the same way? Why would anyone expect them to succumb to demands of U.S. officials? Aren’t they just as proud as U.S. government officials are? Wouldn’t they be just as willing to sacrifice the well-being of their citizenry as U.S. officials are?

The fact is that the citizenry of any country are viewed simply as pawns by both their own government and the foreign government that is imposing the sanctions.

For example, as I pointed out here, the U.S. sanctions against Iran have caused several plane crashes, killing hundreds of Iraqi citizens. Yet, that hasn’t persuaded the U.S. government to lift the sanctions, just as it hasn’t induced the Iranian government to bow to U.S. demands. The Iranian citizenry are considered expendable by both governments.

Recall the brutal sanctions that the U.S. government enforced against Iraq for more than 10 years. Every year, they were causing the deaths of thousands of Iraqi children from infectious illnesses, malnutrition, etc. Those deaths didn’t cause Saddam Hussein to leave office, which is what the U.S. government wanted. Equally important, U.S. officials were indifferent to the deaths of all those Iraqi children. In fact, the official U.S. position was that those deaths were “worth it,” the term used by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Madeleine Albright when asked about the deaths by “Sixty Minutes.”

Or consider the brutal embargo that the U.S. government has enforced against Cuba for decades. It has produced untold economic harm to the Cuban people. U.S. officials couldn’t care less. They steadfastly maintain that one of these days the embargo will finally succeed in persuading Fidel Castro (and his brother) to give up power and permit a U.S.-approved ruler to be substituted in his stead. Not surprisingly, the Castro brothers have reacted to the decades-long U.S. embargo in the same way that the U.S. government is responding to China’s threat to impose sanctions on the United States — by refusing to succumb to U.S. demands no matter how much the Cuban people must suffer as a consequence.

With its refusal to bow to China’s threat of sanctions, the U.S. government is confirming that sanctions simply don’t work. Given the great harm the U.S. government has inflicted on foreign citizens with its own sanctions, it’s time for U.S. officials to lift their sanctions against Iran, Cuba, and everyone else.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.