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Celebrating the Cuban Air Crash


U.S. sanctions bureaucrats are undoubtedly uncorking the champagne bottles over the plane crash in Cuba last week that left 110 people dead. They are undoubtedly exclaiming how the crash is proving that the decades-old U.S. economic embargo against Cuba is starting to “bite,” the term that U.S. officials are now using to celebrate the effects of U.S. sanctions against North Korea.

After all, let’s not forget: that is the purpose of U.S. embargoes and sanctions — to kill innocent people in the hopes of achieving either regime change within a foreign country or a change of attitude within a foreign regime.

In addition to producing starvation and illness, sanctions and embargoes also help bring about plane crashes. That’s because they prevent foreign regimes from buying new planes and from getting the parts to keep old planes properly serviced. Over time, it is hoped, the situation will get so bad that planes start to crash. Once that happens, the hope is that the targeted ruler will  either abdicate or do whatever U.S. officials want him to do, as a way to have the embargo or sanctions lifted.

In the case of Cuba, the U.S. embargo has worked brilliantly. We are all accustomed to seeing the old 1950s cars that Cubans have repaired over the years. Less well known is that same thing applies to Cuba’s aging fleet of domestic planes, which have suffered from a high crash rate as a result of the U.S. embargo.

Reporting on the most recent crash, the New York Times wrote:

It remained unclear what caused the crash, but it came against the backdrop of Cuba’s struggle to improve commercial aviation on the island, which has long faced economic constraints from the United States embargo.

A day before the crash, Cuban state newspapers reported that one of the country’s new vice presidents, Salvador Valdés Mesa, met with key officials from the island’s aviation sector to discuss challenges.

The report said that Roberto Peña Samper, the president of the Cuban Aviation Corporation, bemoaned that the “embargo placed by successive American administrations prevents” the island “from acquiring the resources necessary to operate a larger fleet of planes and to enhance airport services.”

U.S. officials have had the same success with their sanctions on Iran. Last February, an Iranian airliner crashed, killing 65 people. According to an article at thinkprogress.org,

The deaths of 65 passengers and crew aboard an Iranian commercial flight that crashed on Sunday are the latest in Iran’s longstanding ordeal over the safety of its airplanes — referred to by some Iranians as “flying coffins.”

While the cause of the crash has not yet been determined — Aseman Airlines has blamed bad weather, and local Iranian media has speculated that the 24-year-old twin-engine turboprop ATR plane experienced technical failure — the accident highlights a disturbing trend in Iran. The country has experienced about 200 accidents involving planes and suffered almost 2,000 lives lost in more than two decades, according to the BBC.

Iranians say the frequent crashes are partly due to restrictions stemming from Western sanctions, which have prohibited American businesses and some European entities from conducting trade with Iran, including the sale of new airplanes or parts — forcing the country to rely on an aging airline fleet, on spare parts purchased on the black market, and on second-rate Russian planes.

Whenever plane crashes occur in Cuba, U.S. officials inevitably blame them on Cuba’s socialist economic system. Socialism certainly does impoverish nations. But what is undeniable is that sanctions and embargoes make the situation infinitely worse.

And here is something important to keep in mind: While economic suffering is the result of bad economic policies in Cuba, that’s not the goal of Cuban officials. But death and suffering is the goal of U.S. officials. That’s the purpose of their embargo on Cuba.

Recall how U.S. officials targeted the Iraqi people with sanctions as a way to induce Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to abdicate or “disarm” his (supposed) WMDs. Those sanctions were killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children. That was okay with U.S. officials. As U.S. Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright put it, the deaths of half-a-million children were “worth it.” By “it” she meant the effort to achieve regime change or a change in mindset within Saddam Hussein.

Look at how U.S. officials (and the U.S. mainstream press) are exulting over how the U.S. sanctions on North Korea are supposedly bringing North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un to the negotiating table. They are exclaiming that the sanctions are really starting to “bite,” which means that they are killing more North Korean people with starvation or illness.

By the way, the same thing is happening in Venezuela. To punish Venezuela’s tyrannical and dictatorial regime, U.S. officials are imposing more sanctions on that country, with the intent of inflicting even more death and misery among the Venezuelan populace, with the intent of altering the behavior of their tyrannical government.

Describing the mindset of Nazi bureaucrats as the “banality of evil,” Hannah Arendt could just as easily have been talking about U.S. bureaucrats who enforce sanctions and embargoes against innocent people in other nations.

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.