Sanctions Are Part of America’s ‘Forever Wars’—End Them Now, Demands Indian-American Academic
May 8, 2021 (EIRNS)—Krishen Mehta, a Senior Global Justice Fellow at Yale University, issued a powerful call May 4 for ending U.S. sanctions against developing nations, especially those in Southwest Asia as well as Russia and China and nations of Ibero-America. Sanctions are acts of war, Mehta warned—they’re a “way to have ‘foreign policy on the cheap’ without domestic consequence,” replacing diplomacy. In his article, “Sanctions and Forever Wars,” published on the website of the American Committee for U.S.-Russia Accord, Mehta argues that In some ways, sanctions are “WORSE than war, because at least in war there are certain protocols or conventions on harming civilian populations” (emphasis in the original). Under the current sanctions regime, “civilian populations are harmed constantly and many measures are in fact directly targeted against civilians.” In the end, these sanctions “become part of our Forever Wars,” and the American public accepts the policy because “they are packaged under the guise of human rights, representing the superiority of our morality over others.” Describing the insanity of waging financial war against Russia, Mehta also warns that the sanctions risk alienating young people in these affected countries, “because their lives and their future are compromised as a result of the sanctions.”
Mehta is a native of India but is an American citizen. He points out that he, like many Indian professionals, was educated in India thanks to the financial generosity of the U.S. after India won its independence in 1947. Many of the Indian professionals educated thanks to that policy then went to other countries, including the U.S., but also to developing countries, where they helped build basic health and sanitation infrastructure, schools, hospitals and highways, only to see everything destroyed by U.S. wars and criminal sanctions, such as in Iraq and Syria. Humanitarian crises occurred because sanctions prevented imports of medical supplies; deprived of medicine, children died of treatable diseases. Pointing out that 30 countries now suffer under U.S. sanctions, Mehta documents the human cost of denying Iran respirator masks or thermal imaging equipment needed to combat COVID; the U.S. vetoed a $5 billion emergency loan Iran requested from the IMF to buy equipment and vaccines abroad. He points to U.S. disruption of Venezuela’s CLAP food distribution program and the Caesar sanctions against Syria which are causing a huge humanitarian crisis there, made worse by U.S. occupation of oil fields, and fertile agricultural regions, which is causing people to starve. “Is this America at its best?” he asks.
It used to be the case, Mehta concludes, that the U.S. built schools and universities abroad, and sent its young people to other countries with the Peace Corps. But today, the U.S. has 800 military bases in 70 countries and sanctions a third of the world’s population. “Sanctions do not represent the best that the American people have to offer, and they do not represent the inherent generosity and compassion of the American people. For these reasons, the sanction regime needs to end and the time for it is now.”