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Killing Them Softly With Sanctions

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/06/25/killing-them-softly-sanctions

With tight (fracked) oil playing out much faster than expected (the greedy bastards wanted), the tyranny of the petrodollar and therefore the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency are at risk. These are interesting times. Uncle $am won’t be able to bully as easily through economic sanctions except for the fact that it has a bloated military that may in the not-so-distant future be checked by Russian technology and Chinese economic prowess. Empire is puffing out its chest and many are waiting to pierce its lungs and let out its ill begotten air, as it were.

Applause for Gallagher. Nice piece.

The world is a commons. We say we own it, or parts, or are responsible for some parts and not others. We don’t, or not in any way less specious or arbitrary than so-called agreements between people who do not agree.

Elinor Ostrom, who did a half-century or so of work verifying methodology regarding the governance of a non-tragic commons, distilled 8 principles empirically seen to create stable production and distribution and regenerate sources, even over centuries. Here they are:

  1. Define clear group boundaries.
  2. Match rules governing use of common goods to local needs and conditions.
  3. Ensure that those affected by the rules can participate in modifying the rules.
  4. Make sure the rule-making rights of community members are respected by outside authorities.
  5. Develop a system, carried out by community members, for monitoring members’ behavior.
  6. Use graduated sanctions for rule violators.
  7. Provide accessible, low-cost means for dispute resolution.
  8. Build responsibility for governing the common resource in nested tiers from the lowest level up to the entire interconnected system.

International sanctions inherently violate #'s 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, and 8. In all cases that I know of, they have also violated 2 and 6. Of course they invariably result in instability and destruction of people and resources. The trouble with our arguing against them like this, though, is that destruction is exactly what they are designed to do, under the guise of policing.

Because the people who deliver sanctions do so to damage people, if at times with some notion of helping others, we will not usually dissuade them by reason, nor by appealing to empathy. What’s left?

Sanctions against Iraq involve cutting off trade with Iraq. Iraqis then suffer because they do not receive goods on which they depend. The only way this resolves from within Iraq is to establish local sources for goods–more or less along the lines recommended by Mahatma Gandhi.

Of course, there’s still the matter of invasion and wanton vandalism and destruction, such as by drone bombs or local police forces. It seems that we in the States will have to work against that.

This article i wrote last year might be helpful to some

Waging war without bullets

Sanctions imposed on a whole nation share all the characteristics of siege warfare such as blurring the distinction between the battlefield and by-standers, engulfing civilians in the violence of war …The siege tactic deliberately targets a civilian population with fatal consequences by withholding supplies and starving them yet it is a form of warfare which is considered legal and acceptable.