No Sanctions Work Out Anymore

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IR Diplomacy – Abdolreza Ghofrani ( Former Senior Diplomat and International Analyst )

Over the past couple of days unexpected and interesting events occurred in the international arena. The US government decided (or it may well before had determined), after half a century, to reestablish relations with the tiny Island of Cuba, being only ninety miles away from its mainland. There have been either optimistic or pessimistic reactions to this decision of the Obama administration inside and outside of United States. Perhaps everyone may evoke, or those who have read the history of international developments of the recent decades remember that in the early 1960s the world was at the brink of a horrific war over the Cuban crisis. In fact a nuclear war was not far away. Because two super powers, the US and the former USSR, had arrayed their forces to go to a horror deadly fray. Fortunately, wisdom and pragmatism as well as self restraint prevailed over the two super powers and that saved the world from a horrible confrontation.

The US, however, severed diplomatic relations with Cuba in 1961, blockading the country economically and exerting several sanctions on the island. The US put these sanctions to pressure Cubans, perceiving that this would force them to rise up and overthrow the socialist regime in the country. The sanctions (that by international norms are illegitimate and obsolete) badly affected the Cubans’ daily life and the economic pressures on the citizens were unbearable. It, however, did not achieve the objectives the US was seeking. Of course this also built up a hatred and non-confidence towards Americans. It is interesting that the US President, reportedly, addressing the American people, has said:” the sanctions have failed to isolate Cuba without resulting in anything that should have served our goals.” The US policy towards Cuba, President Obama added, has expired and the time has come to change our approach. Regardless of the genuine goals of this United States initiation, it is worthy to note that US approaches to the states, who do not associate with its policies, have obviously failed. Over the past five decades, to address these so-called problems, the US have either resorted to war or imposing illegitimate obsolete sanctions.

The results of these policies have not been anything but deep crises and more destruction. More important, the majority of Americans have time and again voiced their disapproval of these illegitimate and unfair sanctions. Reportedly, in concert with a group of the US Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, the American people have called for lifting these imposing sanctions on Cuba.

It is worthy to note that President Obama has bluntly called these sanctions on Cuba ineffectual after elapse of half a century, and since these sanctions are illegitimate and unfair, isn’t it an undeniable strong evidence that generally it should not be used in other places and circumstances because this policy absolutely will not work out and, as President Obama has said, is expired?

Over the past thirty five years, several administrations and Congresses in the US have imposed several sanctions on Iran, and particularly through the past decades, on the wrong pretext of Iran enriching uranium for military purposes, have increased tougher sanctions. Have American Administrations not been convinced that notwithstanding the pressures of these unfair sanctions on Iranian people just because of baseless justifications, they have not achieved the objectives of their foreign policies?

If half a century of sanctions on Cuba have not worked out, there is no doubt that 35 years of sanctions imposed on Iran do not (and will not)  bear any fruits as well. By and large, certainly using this approach, given the five decades of failed experiences, on any country is not but just useless. Over the past several years, political circles, academicians, analysts and many countries, time and again, noting the US, have reaffirmed that this approach is doomed to failure, however it sounds as if the United States is not going to stop it. In addition to making and deepening crises and causing loses and damages to the countries, pursuing this approach will not but deal severe blows to international trade and global economy that requires  mutual cooperation and sound relations. Now, because of this illogical approach many countries in Asia, Europe and America (including the US) have not been able to have sound and growing economic relations with an important country such as Iran. Has not the time come that United States take another initiative, as it did for Cuba, forthrightly declare that sanction policy against Iran has not worked out through the past thirty five years and will not do so over the years to come? On balance, international conditions have thoroughly changed over the past half a century as well as thirty five years. There is no longer a super power or a few powers that can decide for others, and having the final say. In the present global situation, merely having a realistic vision of international developments works out.  In our time, all countries of the world being large or small, advanced or developing in their own capacity can determine the developments and affect the global conditions.

Given their potentialities and experiences, the great powers certainly have good knowledge of existing international situations. Evidently, wisdom and logic have to drive them to avoid the policies that have not bore any fruit and they need to stop it. There is an good old saying that, “those who forget the past are bound to repeat it”. Besides, it is worthwhile to remind those countries making crisis that not only does it deal blows to others, but they themselves are not immune to the consequences of any turmoil.

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