Sanctions against Iran
By Congressman Ron Paul
- As the drumbeat for military action against Iran
grows louder, some members of Congress are calling to expand the
longstanding U.S. trade ban that bars American companies from
investing in that nation. In fact, many war hawks in Washington
are pushing for a comprehensive international embargo against
Iran. The international response has been lukewarm, however,
because the world needs Iranian oil. But we cannot underestimate
the irrational, almost manic desire of some neoconservatives to
attack Iran one way or another, even if it means crippling a
major source of oil and destabilizing the worldwide economy.
Make no mistake about it: Economic sanctions are acts of
aggression. Sanctions increase poverty and misery among the very
poorest inhabitants of targeted nations, and they breed
tremendous resentment against those imposing them. But they
rarely hurt the political and economic elites responsible for
angering American leaders in the first place.
In fact, few government policies are as destructive to our
economy as the embargo.
While embargoes sound like strong, punitive action, in reality
they represent a failed policy that four decades of experience
prove doesn't work. Conversely, economic engagement is perhaps
the single most effective tool in tearing down dictatorships and
spreading the message of liberty.
It is important to note that economic engagement is not the same
thing as foreign aid. Foreign aid, which should be abolished
immediately, involves the US government spending American tax
dollars to prop up other nations.
Embargoes only hurt the innocent of a targeted country. While it
may be difficult for the leader of an embargoed nation to get a
box of American-grown rice, he will get it one way or another.
For the poor peasant in the remote section of his country,
however, the food will be unavailable.
It is difficult to understand how denying access to food,
medicine, and other products benefits anyone. Embargo advocates
claim that denying people access to our products somehow creates
opposition to the despised leader. The reality, though, is that
hostilities are more firmly directed at America.
Father Robert Sirico, a Paulist priest, wrote in the Wall Street
Journal that trade relations "strengthen people's loyalties to
each other and weaken government power." To imagine that we
somehow can spread the message of liberty to an oppressed nation
by denying them access to our people and the bounty of our
prosperity is contorted at best.
For more than thirty years we have embargoed Cuba in an attempt
to drive Fidel Castro from power. Yet he remains in power. By
contrast look at the Soviet Union, a nation we allowed our
producers to engage economically. Of course the Soviet Union has
Embargoes greatly harm our citizens. As the American
agricultural industry continues to develop new technology to
reduce costs and increase yields, it becomes more important for
farmers and ranchers to find markets outside the United States
to sell their goods so they can make ends meet. By preventing
our farmers and ranchers from competing in the world market, we
deny them very profitable opportunities.
Government meddling is always destructive to the free market;
people inevitably will make wiser decisions about how to spend
their money, with whom, and when, than politicians in
Washington. Embargoes simply do not accomplish the ends
advocates claim to desire, and are extremely harmful to the
well-being of Americans.
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