Slap-dash Sanctions Leave Less Room for Diplomacy

“These are ominous developments in all of these countries,” Phyllis Bennis told The Real News following reports that Donald Trump would sign a bill slapping sanctions on Russia, North Korea, and Iran—an extraordinarily different set of state actors which pose very different foreign policy challenges.

“The notion that you can do a kind of cookie cutter attack, ‘We’re going to sanction them all in one bill, get it all done at once.’—this is insane,” Bennis said.

Bennis said she doesn’t believe that sanctions are going to help alleviate the challenge that the U.S. faces in its relationship with any of these countries.

This slap-dash sanctioning with support from both political parties, Bennis said, speaks to the inability of Congress and the White House to deal with diplomacy in a serious way.

“‘This is the answer to all the problems we have with countries we don’t like,’” Bennis said, “we’ll just sanction them all!’”

The deficiencies in this approach, Bennis said, are best exemplified in Iraq. From 1990 until 2003, U.S. sanctions on the country had a devastating impact.

“Half a million children under the age of five died from the results of sanctions,” Bennis doesn’t mince words, “they were killed by U.S. foreign policy. Sanctions were doing the job of war.”

Sanctions can antagonize decision makers, and may encourage a dangerous response. She points to the response we’ve already seen in Russia, where Putin just demanded the removal of hundreds of U.S. staff. Meanwhile in North Korea, we’ve seen that sanctions have not had an impact on the country’s nuclear capabilities. And in the case of Iran, the United States is just isolating itself by undermining a nuclear deal backed by five other countries while Iran strengthens its position in the world.

This decision will have many different impacts, and linking them all into one bill is “rather extraordinary,” Bennis said.

“We’re going to have to have negotiations. The notion that we can do something and not talk simply doesn’t work in the real world,” Bennis said.

Watch the full interview on The Real News Network.

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Burma’s Democratic Transition Isn’t Enough to Get Most US Sanctions Lifted – TIME


TIME
Burma's Democratic Transition Isn't Enough to Get Most US Sanctions Lifted
TIME
They argue that it's handicapping American companies in one of the last frontier economies (the country is rich with minerals, timber and oil and gas, and wages remain low enough to attract manufacturers looking for cheap workers). Calls to scale back
US eases economic sanctions on MyanmarBBC News
U.S. eases sanctions on Myanmar in bid to promote growth, reformsBusiness Insider
Asia Pacific|Obama to Relax US Sanctions Against MyanmarNew York Times
Reuters -MetroNews Canada
all 177 news articles »

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Who Benefits From Lifting Nuclear-Based Sanctions on Iran? The Iranian People.

Imam Avenue & Azadi Boulevard, Iran (Image: Flickr / Alan Cordova)

Imam Avenue & Azadi Boulevard, Iran (Image: Flickr / Alan Cordova)

Iran dismantled two-thirds of its nuclear centrifuges, which was a prerequisite for lifting of economic sanctions against Iran. Sanctions were lifted on Saturday, January 17, and it was marked by a prisoner exchange and more sanctions. Less than 24 hours after lifting the sanctions against Iran, the Obama administration announced Sunday that it was imposing new sanctions on Iran for violating the United Nations resolutions against ballistic missile tests.

IPS’s Phyllis Bennis joined The Real News to discuss the recent developments. Watch below:

The post Who Benefits From Lifting Nuclear-Based Sanctions on Iran? The Iranian People. appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.

Phyllis Bennis directs the New Internationalism Project at the Insitute for Policy Studies.

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US Sanctions Lifting in Myanmar Makes Slow Progress – Wall Street Journal (blog)


Wall Street Journal (blog)
US Sanctions Lifting in Myanmar Makes Slow Progress
Wall Street Journal (blog)
The U.S. Department of Treasury removed Win Aung and the two companies he founded, Dagon International Ltd. and Dagon Timber Ltd., from the blacklist earlier this week. Win Aung's businesses are the first to be removed since … In order to get off the

and more »

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France balks at US plan for phased lifting of Iran nuclear sanctions – The Guardian


The Guardian
France balks at US plan for phased lifting of Iran nuclear sanctions
The Guardian
The US secretary of state, John Kerry, is due to meet his counterparts from the UK, France and Germany on Saturday, somewhere in Europe, to try to mend the rift – largely over the lifting of sanctions on Iran – and restore a united front. On Friday
France Demands Full Disclosure of Past Iranian Nuclear Work as Negotiators TheTower.org
Obama phones France as Iran talks hit snagThe Hill
Britain, France, Germany, EU's Mogherini review Iran nuclear talksPeninsula On-line

all 2,118 news articles »

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US Waives Sanctions on Myanmar Timber – Independent European Daily Express

US Waives Sanctions on Myanmar Timber
Independent European Daily Express
Yet critics worry this will simply create two parallel timber sectors, one licit and another that is little changed. The industry, as with Myanmar’s broader extractives sector, has long been notorious for deep corruption and human rights abuses. â

and more »

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US Waives Sanctions on Myanmar Timber – Independent European Daily Express

US Waives Sanctions on Myanmar Timber
Independent European Daily Express
Yet critics worry this will simply create two parallel timber sectors, one licit and another that is little changed. The industry, as with Myanmar’s broader extractives sector, has long been notorious for deep corruption and human rights abuses. â

and more »

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Uzbekistan falls under US sanctions on human trafficking

“According to a variety of sources, the government of Uzbekistan enforced a decree resulting in a sweeping reduction of the number of children under 15 years of age in the 2012 cotton harvest, but the government continued to subject older children and
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Oxfam warns sanctions could be a tipping point as Malians face a triple food, security and political crisis

International agency Oxfam today warned that sanctions imposed on Mali could have devastating consequences on 3.5m people already at risk of hunger, if humanitarian needs are not safeguarded.

International agency Oxfam today warned that sanctions imposed on Mali could have devastating consequences on 3.5m people already at risk of hunger, if humanitarian needs are not safeguarded. The agency called for countries in the region to review the imposition of sanctions to ensure populations are protected, and promote diplomatic efforts to find a political solution that would allow basic needs to be met in conditions of peace and security.

“If maintained as they are for more than even a few days, sanctions by ECOWAS could further undermine the efforts to help the 3.5 million Malians already affected by a serious food crisis,” said Eric Mamboué Oxfam Country director in the country. 

Mr Mamboué added: “Some of the sanctions may prove to be a blunt instrument that hurt the weakest first and foremost, without adequate safeguards. The most vulnerable need to be protected from any actions that seek to bring an end to Mali’s political crisis. We call on those imposing and backing the sanctions to think again and ensure that the impact on ordinary people is kept to a minimum, while also taking steps to ensure that assistance can continue to reach those who need it most.”

Whilst welcoming the ECOWAS’s concern to swiftly settle the political crisis, Oxfam is particularly concerned by sanctions to close Mali’s borders, the denial of access to seaports and the closure of some central banking functions. 

Some 40% of essential goods come from outside Mali and it is the most vulnerable households that are most dependent on markets for food – purchasing up to 60% of their staples from local market. Restrictions on fuel imports will also hit hard, needed not only for transportation, but also to ensure access to water. Without fuel, the agencies warn that water services in Bamako could soon grind to a halt.

Mamboué continued, “Everything should be done to ensure that the border closures do not impact on humanitarian supplies, but also fuel and any other goods required to maintain programs. Any limits on banking must also not prevent ordinary Malians from being able to receive vital remittances from overseas, or prevent aid agencies from being able to provide cash programs for populations who otherwise risk going hungry”. 

The agency fears that the devastating consequences of fighting and insecurity, combined with a worsening food security situation, will also produce a further surge in refugee numbers across the region. It is essential that border closures have no impact on the ability for Malians to seek refuge in neighbouring countries. More than 210,000 Malians have been forced to flee their homes since this beginning of the year and this figures looks to set to rise even further. Already in the last week, UNHCR has reported up to 400 people a day arriving in Burkina Faso and Mauritania, twice the previous level.

Read more

Food crisis in Sahel

Some of the sanctions may prove to be a blunt instrument that hurt the weakest first and foremost, without adequate safeguards.

Eric Mamboué

Oxfam Country director in Mali

Notes to Editors

Ecowas Sanctions imposed to Mali include:

  1. Recalling all of its accredited ambassadors, and a travel ban on members of the junta and their associates within the ECOWAS territory.
  2. Closing all borders between ECOWAS member states and Mali, except for humanitarian purposes.
  3. Freezing the assets of the leaders of the junta and their associates.
  4. Denying Mali access to seaports.
  5. Freezing the accounts of Mali held at the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO).
  6. Denying the procurement of funds from BCEAO to accounts held by the Malian State in private banks.
  7. Freezing all financial assistance to Mali through the West African Bank for Development (BOAD) and the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID).
  8. Suspending Mali from participating in all sporting and cultural events in the ECOWAS space.

Contact Information

For more information:

Charles Bambara: cbambara@oxfam.org.uk / + 221 77 639 41 78 

Ian Bray: ibray@oxfam.org.uk / +44 (0)7721 461339

Louis Belanger: Louis.belanger@oxfaminternational.org / +1 917 224 0834

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