In last week’s excellent Peace Train column, Tom Mayer discussed how the U.S. uses the media to convince the U.S. public of the necessity to attack some enemy. Tom provided past examples as background for the latest clumsy U.S. effort to build the case for an attack on Iran.

Currently, the U.S. has little credibility, and few nations accepted the U.S. blaming of Iran for the recent attacks in the Strait of Hormuz. In addition, it appears that the U.S. drone recently shot down by Iran was in Iranian air space. Moreover, Iran pointed out that the U.S. flew a Navy P-8 into Iranian air space at the same time as the drone, but Iran did not target it. Thus another ham-fisted U.S. effort to provoke Iran failed to provide the case for an U.S. attack.

Just as with North Korea and Venezuela, a U.S. attack against Iran is a lose-lose situation for the U.S. and the nation it would attack. An attack on Iran also presents a much greater risk than an attack against either North Korea or Venezuela due to the likely impact on the world’s economy.

Despite great pressure from Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as well as from vehement hawks such as National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for a military attack, President Donald Trump seems to be cautious about actually launching one. However, even without the lose-lose military attacks, the U.S. continues to do incredible damage to these three nations, particularly to their civilian populations, through the illegal and cruel sanctions it has imposed.

Trump, similar to other U.S. leaders, has sometimes resorted to the use of sanctions instead of the military. Sanctions allow a leader to say he is doing something even though he has not launched an attack and put U.S. forces at risk. Moreover, there is less public objection to sanctions than to the use of the military as the U.S. public doesn’t really grasp how much suffering they cause. In addition, Congress will seldom challenge the use of sanctions whereas on rare occasions it will oppose the use of the military. Sanctions are also usually not covered in depth by the media; the impacts of sanctions are out of sight and hence out of mind as well.

Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J. S. Davies wrote a very good article about sanctions that appeared at commondreams.org on June 17. They point to a study showing that sanctions are ineffective in the overwhelming majority of cases, that is, they very rarely bring about a change in government or in policy in the targeted nation.

Regarding sanctions, U.N. Special Rapporteur Alfred De Zayas visited Venezuela in late 2017 and wrote: “Modern-day economic sanctions and blockades are comparable with medieval sieges of towns.” De Zayas recommended, among other actions, that the International Criminal Court investigate economic sanctions against Venezuela as possible crimes against humanity.

The U.S. expands the power of its sanctions by imposing sanctions on businesses in other nations that “violate” its unilateral sanctions by trading with the targeted nation. It is truly bizarre that the U.S., the nation that violated the Iranian nuclear agreement, is sanctioning Iran even though it’s complying with the agreement.


The Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center’s “Peace Train” runs every Friday in the Colorado Daily.

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