Should we punish a people if we don’t like their Government?
How about these people?
- Palestine–5 million
- N. Korea–25 million
- Cuba–11 million
- Iran–81 million
- Honduras–9 million
- Nicaragua–6 million
- Guatemala–17 million
- Venezuela–32 million
- Mexico–129 million
Sanctions, which punish the people rather than the rulers, seem cruel and are likely ineffective. How about China with 1.4 billion people; could punishing China be a good idea?
Are sanctions effective? On Iran from CRS report:
Effects on Iran’s Regional Influence
Neither the imposition, lifting, or reimposition of strict sanctions have appeared to affect Iran’s regional behavior. Iran intervened extensively in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen during the 2012-2016 period when sanctions had a significant adverse effect on Iran’s economy. Iran apparently is able to manufacture domestically the weaponry it suppliers to such entities, and sanctions do not appear to be an effective tool to limit such Iranian efforts. Iran has remained engaged in these regional conflicts since sanctions were eased in early 2016, and has apparently adjusted its level of activity in these conflicts to battlefield and local developments.
Human Rights-Related Effects
It is difficult to draw any direct relationship between sanctions and Iran’s human rights practices. Recent human rights reports by the State Department and the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Iran’s human rights practices generally assess that there has been some modest improvement in some of Iran’s practices in recent years, particularly relaxation of enforcement of the public dress code for women. But the altered policies cannot necessarily be attributed to sanctions relief.
Since at least 2012, foreign firms have generally refrained from selling the Iranian government equipment to monitor or censor social media use. Such firms include German telecommunications firm Siemens, Chinese internet infrastructure firm Huawei, and South African firm MTN Group. In October 2012, Eutelsat, a significant provider of satellite service to Iran’s state broadcasting establishment, ended that relationship after the EU sanctioned the then head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), Ezzatollah Zarghami. However, the regime retains the ability to monitor and censor social media use.
During 2012-2016, sanctions produced significant humanitarian-related effects, particularly in limiting the population’s ability to obtain expensive Western-made medicines, such as chemotherapy drugs. Some of the scarcity was caused by banks’ refusal to finance such sales, even though doing so was not subject to any sanctions. Some observers say the Iranian government exaggerated reports of medicine shortages to generate opposition to the sanctions.
Other accounts say that Iranians, particularly those with connections to the government, took advantage of medicine shortages by cornering the import market for key medicines. However, some of these shortages resurfaced in 2018 following the reimposition of sanctions by the Trump Administration. For example, reports in 2018 indicated that the reimposition of U.S. sanctions may be inhibiting the flow of humanitarian goods to the Iranian people and reportedly contributing to shortages in medicine to treat ailments such as multiple sclerosis and cancer.
I would suggest that in most countries the “government” does not represent the people. See the last US presidential election as a prime example. If we can’t even do it here, why would we expect governments of less wealthy countries to be any better?
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When I wrote this, I did wonder if other countries should sanction us for our corrupt, ineffective government.
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