If the goal of the Obama administration is to defend the United States, then sanctions against Iran will do little to provide for it. Contrarily, Iranian sanctions will merely provide for innocent people suffering and the emboldening of Iran's leadership.
If history has taught us anything about sanctions, it is this: The innocents of a sanctioned country suffer while the corrupt leaders thrive, and the goals of the sanctioning country are never truly met. Likewise, the so-called "targeted sanctions," which have gained popularity in the past few decades, have proven both ineffective in meeting security goals and in shielding the populace from suffering.
Texas Congressman Ron Paul rightly noted on the House floor back in December:
As we have learned with US sanctions on Iraq, and indeed with US sanctions on Cuba and elsewhere, it is citizens rather than governments who suffer most. The purpose of these sanctions is to change the regime in Iran, but past practice has demonstrated time and again that sanctions only strengthen regimes they target and marginalize any opposition. As would be the case were we in the US targeted for regime change by a foreign government, people in Iran will tend to put aside political and other differences to oppose that threatening external force. Thus this legislation will likely serve to strengthen the popularity of the current Iranian government. Any opposition continuing to function in Iran would be seen as operating in concert with the foreign entity seeking to overthrow the regime.Dr. Paul could not be anymore right. The harm in sanctions go beyond the pain inflicted upon the populations of targeted nations; our national defense is put in jeopardy as well.
Osama Bin Laden, himself, noted US sanctions as one of three main reasons for his holy war against the United States. In his evil response, one thing is evident: Nations remember when a hegemonic power causes suffering. Misguided policy will breed ordeals in the future which we will be forced to face, and the scars of the past are hard to overcome.
It is clear that sanctions do harm. The evidence cannot be hidden, and even the government itself has defied its own policy and confirmed that sanctions don't work.
Jacob Hornberger notes:
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."Because we know the track record of sanctions as one of failure and harm to civilian populations, those who value liberty and a strong national defense should be the first to come out against them. No conservative, libertarian, or constitutionalist can consistently support these brutal and ineffective measures.
If Iran poses a true threat, sanctions will only heighten that threat. The Obama Administration would be wise to consider a vastly different policy.