FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Trump’s Sanctions are Sadistic and Spiteful

The history of sanctions is grim, and it is generally acknowledged that they penalize ordinary people to an unjustifiable degree. It is difficult to forget the excruciating pronouncement by Madeleine Albright, President Clinton’s Secretary of State, when she was ambassador to the UN and commented on their effects in Iraq in the 1990s, in the run-up to the US invasion. In a media interview her questioner said that in Iraq “We have heard that half a million children have died. I mean, that is more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?”

Albright replied, “I think that is a very hard choice, but the price, we think the price is worth it.”  Her noxious statement was largely ignored by Western mainstream media which was being ramped up to support the invasion of 2003, by which time, the citizens of Iraq had been viciously punished by a bunch of foreign bigots who had reduced the country to a societal shambles. In his 2006 book ‘A Different Kind of War’ the former UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, Hans Von Sponeck, wrote that “Communicable diseases in the 1980s not considered public health hazards, such as measles, polio, cholera, typhoid, marasmus and kwashiorkor, reappeared on epidemic scales.” The commentator Gilles d’Aymery warned that the book “is not for the faint-hearted reader. The wrenching suffering of the Iraqi people it recounts cannot be read without feeling ill to the point of nausea and experiencing a deep sense of anger and outrage, as well as immense sadness, by the unfathomable tragedy that befell this peaceful people — mere pawns sacrificed on the checkerboard of great gamesmanship between an authoritarian government fallen out of grace and the parochial interests of a few Western nations.”

So one would think that the US Establishment might have realized the extent that sanctions inflict suffering on innocent people, and in one instance this was so, because President Obama began to relax sanctions on Cuba, whose people have been ferociously targeted by Washington’s Best and Brightest for almost sixty years.

The anti-Cuba campaign began in 1959 when Fidel Castro overthrew Fulgencio Batista, who was totally corrupt and supported by the US.  Castro was regarded as an enemy, not because he was brutal, which he undoubtedly was, but because in 1960 he nationalized US-owned businesses, including casinos owned by Mafia mobsters. This sparked the April 1961 Bay of Pigs attack by CIA-sponsored Cuban exiles, authorized by President John F Kennedy. It took only three days for Castro’s forces to wipe out the would-be invaders, then, as the BBC records, “The CIA began to make plans to assassinate Castro as part of Operation Mongoose. At least five plans to kill the Cuban leader were drawn up between 1961 and 1963.”  And to complement this righteous crusade, in 1962 Kennedy ordered sanctions prohibiting all trade and communication with Cuba.

President Jimmy Carter tried to engage in dialogue, and in 1977 he permitted diplomatic exchanges, but there was no support in Establishment Washington for rapprochement, and in 1992 President George HW Bush imposed the wonderfully-named Cuban Democracy Act which intensified sanctions.

As the legislation was passing through Congress, before being signed by Bush, the New York Times observed that “the bill’s punishing measures would make life worse for many Cubans, but nobody can sensibly argue that sanctions alone will topple Castro’s police state.”  Of course the “punishing measures” would make life worse — much worse — for ordinary Cubans, and especially children, because although Section 6004 of the legislation exempted medical supplies from the embargo, there were many let-outs designed to hamper their provision.  These included the exceptions “to the extent such restrictions would be permitted under section 5(m) of the Export Administration Act” and “a case in which the item to be exported could be used in the production of any biotechnological product.”

Which brings us to John Bolton, who as Under Secretary of State in 2002 declared that Cuba “has at least a limited offensive biological warfare research and development effort” and has “’provided dual-use biotechnology to other rogue states.”  This was exactly a year before the US invaded Iraq on the spurious grounds that “there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction,” including biological agents, which were not found because they didn’t exist.  When reporting Bolton’s allegation that Cuba had exported biotechnology to “rogue states” CBS News reported that “Bolton did not identify these nations but noted that Cuban President Fidel Castro visited Iraq, Syria and Libya last year, all of which, like Cuba, are on the State Department list of state sponsors of terrorism. Bolton said all are attempting to develop weapons of mass destruction.”

Mercifully, Bolton disappeared from the scene for some years, and President Barrack Obama attempted to establish normality by easing travel restrictions in 2009, then restoring diplomatic relations. Sanity continued in 2015 when the US removed Cuba from its list of state sponsors of terrorism (although Congress continued to resist removal of trade sanctions), but President Obama visited Cuba in 2016, and a Pew Research poll found that 63 percent of Americans approved of his Cuba policy.  It appeared that maturity had triumphed.

But maturity, rationality and responsibility were discarded when Trump came to power and announced that in regard to Cuba “we will not be silent in the face of communist oppression any longer.” He began to reverse Obama’s moves to rapprochement, and reinstituted sanctions. This moved the UN General Assembly’s 193 nations to pass a resolution in 2017 deploring such action with a vote of 191 to 2 (the two dissenters being the US and Israel), but Trump intensified his anti-Cuba crusade, energetically assisted by the resurrected Bolton whose fetid character promotes the poisoning of US foreign policy.

In April 2019 Bolton gave a speech at a lunch marking the 58th anniversary of the farcical and failed CIA-sponsored Bay of Pigs operation, and the Washington Post reported he “compared the aging Cuban Americans to ‘the brave men of Bunker Hill, Belleau Wood and Normandy,’ and said the new measures [against Cuba] were being undertaken to ‘honor your courage . . . by boldly confronting the evils of socialism and communism in the hemisphere’.”

To praise the Bay of Pigs mercenaries and compare them to US soldiers who served their country and gave their lives at Bunker Hill, Belleau Wood and the Normandy landings is nothing short of obscene — especially coming from a draft-dodger who declared he avoided military service in Vietnam (where over 50,000 Americans died), because “I wasn’t going to waste time on a futile struggle.”

Trump’s international belligerence is fueled by the psychotic, lily-livered Bolton, who is encouraging him to go to war on Iran while intensifying savage sanctions on Cuba. There is no end in sight to Trump’s campaigns of sadism and spite. The world is a worse place than it was when he came upon the political scene, and as the staunchly Republican Orlando Sentinel editorialized on June 19, “After 2½ years we’ve seen enough. Enough of the chaos, the division, the schoolyard insults, the self-aggrandizement, the corruption, and especially the lies.”  So let us hope, with every fiber in our being, that Trump is given the boot by the American people.

A version of this piece appeared in Strategic Culture Foundation on June 18.

 

More articles by:

Brian Cloughley writes about foreign policy and military affairs. He lives in Voutenay sur Cure, France.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
July 16, 2019
Conn Hallinan
The World Needs a Water Treaty
Kenneth Surin
Britain Grovels: the Betrayal of the British Ambassador
Christopher Ketcham
This Land Was Your Land
Gary Leupp
What Right Has Britain to Seize an Iranian Tanker Off Spain?
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Democratic Virtues in Electing a President
Thomas Knapp
Free Speech Just isn’t That Complicated
Binoy Kampmark
The Resigning Ambassador
Howard Lisnoff
Everybody Must Get Stoned
Nicky Reid
Nukes For Peace?
Matt Johnson
The United States of Overreaction
Cesar Chelala
Children’s Trafficking and Exploitation is a Persistent, Dreary Phenomenon
Martin Billheimer
Sylvan Shock Theater
July 15, 2019
David Altheide
The Fear Party
Roger Harris
UN High Commissioner on Human Rights Bachelet’s Gift to the US: Justifying Regime Change in Venezuela
John Feffer
Pyongyang on the Potomac
Vincent Kelley
Jeffrey Epstein and the Collapse of Europe
Robert Fisk
Trump’s Hissy-Fit Over Darroch Will Blow a Chill Wind Across Britain’s Embassies in the Middle East
Binoy Kampmark
Juggling with the Authoritarians: Donald Trump’s Diplomatic Fake Book
Dean Baker
The June Jobs Report and the State of the Economy
Michael Hudson – Bonnie Faulkner
De-Dollarizing the American Financial Empire
Kathy Kelly
Remnants of War
B. Nimri Aziz
The Power of Our Human Voice: From Marconi to Woods Hole
Elliot Sperber
Christianity Demands a Corpse 
Weekend Edition
July 12, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Skull of Death: Mass Media, Inauthentic Opposition, and Eco-Existential Reality in a Pre-Fascist Age of Appeasement
T.J. Coles
“Strategic Extremism”: How Republicans and Establishment Democrats Use Identity Politics to Divide and Rule
Rob Urie
Toward an Eco-Socialist Revolution
Gregory Elich
How Real is the Trump Administration’s New Flexibility with North Korea?
Jason Hirthler
The Journalists Do The Shouting
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Pâté Politics in the Time of Trump and Pelosi
Andrew Levine
The Electoral Circus as the End of Its Initial Phase Looms
David Swanson
Earth Over the Brink
Ron Jacobs
Presidential Papers
Robert Hunziker
The Flawed Food Dependency
Dave Lindorff
Defeating the Trump Administration’s Racist, Republican-Rescuing Census Corruption
Martha Rosenberg
Pathologizing Kids, Pharma Style
Kathleen Wallace
Too Horrible to Understand, Too Horrible to Ignore
Ralph Nader
An Unsurpassable Sterling Record of Stamina!
Paul Tritschler
Restricted View: the British Legacy of Eugenics
John Feffer
Trump’s Bluster Diplomacy
Thomas Knapp
Did Jeffrey Epstein “Belong to Intelligence?”
Nicholas Buccola
Colin Kaepernick, Ted Cruz, Frederick Douglass and the Meaning of Patriotism
P. Sainath
It’s Raining Sand in Rayalaseema
Charles Davis
Donald Trump’s Fake Isolationism
Michael Lukas
Delisting Wolves and the Impending Wolf Slaughter
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Shaking Off Capitalism for Ecological Civilization
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail