FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Sanctions of Mass Destruction

Under the late King Abdullah, Saudi Arabia played a role most treacherous in world affairs: its oil fueled U.S. militarism and its money funded Islamic extremists.

Saudi Arabia is perhaps the greatest inherent contradiction of U.S. foreign policy.

Prior to the 20th century, the value of money was tied to gold. When banks lent money they were constrained by the size of their gold reserves. But in 1971, U.S. President Richard Nixon took the country off the gold standard. Nixon and Saudi Arabia came to an agreement whereby the only currency that Saudi Arabia could sell its oil in was the US dollar and the Saudi Kingdom would in turn ensure that its oil profits flow back into U.S. government treasuries and American banks.

In exchange, America pledged to provide the Saudi Royal family’s regime with military protection and military hardware.

It was the start of something great for America. Access to oil defined 20th-century empires and the petrodollar agreement was the key to the ascendance of the United States as the world’s sole superpower.

The petrodollar system spread beyond oil and the U.S. dollar slowly but surely became the reserve currency for global trades in most commodities and goods. This system allows America to maintain its position of dominance as the world’s only superpower, despite being $18 trillion in debt.

Threats by any nation to undermine the petrodollar system are viewed by Washington as tantamount to a declaration of war against the United States of America.

Within the last decade Iraq, Iran and Libya have all threatened to sell their oil in other currencies. Consequently, they have all been subject to crippling U.S. sanctions.

At the height of World War Two, President Truman issued an order for American bombers to drop “Fat Man” and “Little Boy” on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing 140,000 people instantly. The gruesome images that emerged from the rubble were broadcasted through television sets across the world and caused unprecedented outrage, forcing U.S. policy makers to devise a more subtle weapon of mass destruction: sanctions.

Sanctions are often viewed as a less destructive alternative to military force. Nothing could be further from the truth. American sanctions have killed more innocent people than all of the nuclear, biological and chemical weapons ever used in the history of mankind.

The Financial Times newspaper quoted sanctions expert Geoff Simons who proved that “two-thirds of the world’s population is subject to some sort of U.S. sanctions.”

Sanctions are clearly the 21st century’s most potent weapon of mass destruction.

They told us that Iraq was a nuclear threat; Iraq was a terrorist state; Iraq was tied to Al Qaeda. It all amounted to nothing. What the U.S. administration did not tell us was that the main reason for toppling Saddam, and putting sanctions on the people of Iraq, was the fact that Iraq had ditched the dollar-for-oil sales.

The United Nations estimates that 1.7 million Iraqis died due to Bill Clinton’s sanctions; 500,000 of whom were children. In 1996, a journalist asked former U.S. Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, about these UN reports, specifically about the children. America’s top foreign policy official replied: “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price – we think the price is worth it.” Clearly, U.S. sanctions policy is nothing short of deliberate genocide and impoverishment.

In 1967 Colonel Gaddafi inherited one of the poorest nations in Africa; however, by the time he was assassinated, Gaddafi had turned Libya into Africa’s wealthiest nation. Perhaps, Gaddafi’s greatest crime, in the eyes of NATO, was his desire to put the interests of local labour above foreign capital and his quest for a strong and truly United States of Africa. Central to Gaddafi’s vision for a united Africa was a common African currency made from gold and Gaddafi planned to quit selling Libyan oil in U.S. dollars. In fact, in August 2011, President Obama confiscated $30 billion from Libya’s Central Bank, which Gaddafi had earmarked for the establishment of an African Central Bank and the African gold backed dinar currency.

Had Gaddafi sparked a gold-driven monetary revolution, the Colonel would certainly have done extremely well for his people, and for the world at large. But Africa has the fastest growing oil industry in the world and oil sales in a common African currency would have been especially devastating for the American dollar, the U.S. economy, and particularly the elite in charge of the system.

It is for this reason that President Clinton signed the now infamous Iran-Libya Sanctions Act. The Libyan people were unusually vulnerable to the effects of sanctions, because Libya imports 75 percent of its food, and oil exports make up 95 percent of its revenue. The United Nations Children’s Fund reported that these sanctions caused widespread suffering among civilians by “severely limiting supplies of fuel, access to cash, and the means of replenishing stocks of food and essential medications.” Clearly, U.S. sanctions are grievous crimes against humanity.

Not so long ago, Iraq and Libya were the two most modern and secular states in the Middle East and North Africa, with the highest regional standards of living. Nowadays, intervention and sanctions have turned Libya and Iraq into two of the world’s most troubled nations.

Iran is yet another nation increasingly troubled by American sanctions. An intelligence report published in 2012, endorsed by all sixteen U.S. intelligence agencies, confirms that Iran ended its nuclear weapons program in 2003. Truth is, any Iranian nuclear ambition, real or imagined, is as a result of American hostility towards Iran, and not the other way around. The last time Iran invaded another nation was in 1738. Since independence in 1776, the United States has engaged in over 50 military invasions and interventions.

Much like Iraq’s “weapons of mass destruction”, the United States has used the imaginary nuclear threat to enforce sanctions upon the people of Iran.

In early 2007, during an OPEC meeting, the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called for a “credible and good currency to take over the American dollar’s role and to serve oil trades”. By December 2007, Iran had stopped selling its oil in U.S. dollars. Three months later, the nation set up the Iranian Oil Bourse (IOB) on Kish Island, which allowed exchanges of oil, petrochemicals, and gas between countries in a basket of currencies other than U.S. dollar.

Iran’s petrodollar defiance resulted in America imposing a crippling set of sanctions on seventy-five million Iranian citizens. Sanctions of mass destruction have cost Iran $120 billion in lost revenue since 2010; and, they even include a ban on the importation of certain medicines and foodstuffs. Despite Iranian government subsidies intended to help the poor, prices for staples, such as milk, bread, rice, yogurt and vegetables, have at least doubled since the beginning of the sanctions regime, in some cases showing three and four fold increases. Senior U.S. politician, Brad Sherman, remarked, “critics of sanctions argue that these measures will hurt the Iranian people. Quite frankly, we need to do just that.”

Sanctions are as morally indefensible as they are counter-productive. The more America imposes sanctions on countries for non-dollar trading, the more those countries will respond to American sanctions with increased non-dollar trading. Therefore, imposing sanctions on nations for trading crude oil in other currencies is akin to crudely attempting to put out a fire by dousing it with petrol.

Ever since 1980, the United States has steadily devolved from the status of the world’s top creditor country to the world’s most indebted country. But thanks to the petrodollar system’s huge global artificial demand for U.S. dollars, America can continue exponential military expansion, record breaking deficits and unrestrained spending. Today, a global U.S. dollar reserve currency allows Americans to enjoy some of the best standards of living.

America’s largest export used to be manufactured goods made proudly in America. Today, America’s largest export is the U.S. dollar. Any nation that threatens that export is met with America’s second largest export: weapons, chief amongst which are sanctions of mass destruction.

Garikai Chengu is a scholar at Harvard University. Contact him on garikai.chengu@gmail.com

More articles by:

Garikai Chengu is a scholar at Harvard University. Contact him on garikai.chengu@gmail.com.

April 25, 2018
Stanley L. Cohen
Selective Outrage
Dan Kovalik
The Empire Turns Its Sights on Nicaragua – Again!
Joseph Essertier
The Abductees of Japan and Korea
Ramzy Baroud
The Ghost of Herut: Einstein on Israel, 70 Years Ago
W. T. Whitney
Imprisoned FARC Leader Faces Extradition: Still No Peace in Colombia
Manuel E. Yepe
Washington’s Attack on Syria Was a Mockery of the World
John White
My Silent Pain for Toronto and the World
Mel Gurtov
Will Abe Shinzo “Make Japan Great Again”?
Dean Baker
Bad Projections: the Federal Reserve, the IMF and Unemployment
David Schultz
Why Donald Trump Should Not be Allowed to Pardon Michael Cohen, His Friends, or Family Members
Mel Gurtov
Will Abe Shinzo “Make Japan Great Again”?
Binoy Kampmark
Enoch Powell: Blood Speeches and Anniversaries
Frank Scott
Weapons and Walls
April 24, 2018
Carl Boggs
Russia and the War Party
William A. Cohn
Carnage Unleashed: the Pentagon and the AUMF
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
The Racist Culture of Canadian Hockey
María Julia Bertomeu
On Angers, Disgusts and Nauseas
Nick Pemberton
How To Buy A Seat In Congress 101
Ron Jacobs
Resisting the Military-Now More Than Ever
Paul Bentley
A Velvet Revolution Turns Bloody? Ten Dead in Toronto
Sonali Kolhatkar
The Left, Syria and Fake News
Manuel E. Yepe
The Confirmation of Democracy in Cuba
Peter Montgomery
Christian Nationalism: Good for Politicians, Bad for America and the World
Ted Rall
Bad Drones
Jill Richardson
The Latest Attack on Food Stamps
Andrew Stewart
What Kind of Unionism is This?
Ellen Brown
Fox in the Hen House: Why Interest Rates Are Rising
April 23, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
In Middle East Wars It Pays to be Skeptical
Thomas Knapp
Just When You Thought “Russiagate” Couldn’t Get Any Sillier …
Gregory Barrett
The Moral Mask
Robert Hunziker
Chemical Madness!
David Swanson
Senator Tim Kaine’s Brief Run-In With the Law
Dave Lindorff
Starbucks Has a Racism Problem
Uri Avnery
The Great Day
Nyla Ali Khan
Girls Reduced to Being Repositories of Communal and Religious Identities in Kashmir
Ted Rall
Stop Letting Trump Distract You From Your Wants and Needs
Steve Klinger
The Cautionary Tale of Donald J. Trump
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
Conflict Over the Future of the Planet
Cesar Chelala
Gideon Levy: A Voice of Sanity from Israel
Weekend Edition
April 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Ruling Class Operatives Say the Darndest Things: On Devils Known and Not
Conn Hallinan
The Great Game Comes to Syria
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mother of War
Andrew Levine
“How Come?” Questions
Doug Noble
A Tale of Two Atrocities: Douma and Gaza
Kenneth Surin
The Blight of Ukania
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail