Hillary Clinton, that great and renowned humanitarian, once stated that what makes us (the US) exceptional is that we’re a kind and caring people.
Historically, there are many examples of our kindness. Often, the US has refused to use our military might to provide countries with freedom and democracy. Instead, the US has chosen to impose sanctions, a gentler, kinder means by which we can impose suffering and death on those who reject our offers of freedom and democracy.
Sanctions have a great impact on the economy of those countries that have been chosen by the US to be spared a military attack. Truth be told, sanctions are nothing more than another form of war!
Madeleine Albright, the first woman to serve as US Secretary of State, when asked about the US sanctions on Iraq and the eventual result of half a million Iraqi children dying, indicated that she thought it was worth the sacrifice of those children in order to fulfill the US imperialistic agenda to bring freedom and democracy around the world.
There is no sacrifice too great for the US in its strivings to share our ideas of freedom and democracy to other countries.
Let us take a quick look at the history of US sanctions.
Since 1960, the US has imposed sanctions on Cuba. Anti-communists have frequently pointed to Cuba’s struggling economy to show that communism doesn’t work. However, they fail to include in their argument the devastating impact the US embargo and sanctions have had on Cuba’s economy for the past 57 years.
In 1979, the US imposed sanctions on Iran. The sanctions currently in place amount to severe restrictions on US citizens or companies trading with Iran. The value of imports from Iran dropped from $1.7bn in 1987 to just $9m in 1988 and in 2014 there appeared to be none at all.
North Korea has had to deal with extensive sanctions imposed on it by the US since 1950. The US claims, as a justification for the sanctions, that North Korea’s nuclear program is a threat to the US as well as a threat to the countries in southeast Asia.
What we are not informed about is North Korea’s proposal to stop its nuclear program if the US would stop its military exercises along North Korea’s border and withdraw the 27,000 troops currently stationed in South Korea. It is the US that has refused to accommodate any demand by North Korea that would lessen the military threat to that country.
Since 1997, the US has imposed sanctions on Sudan when it was accused of supporting attempts to destabilize neighboring governments. Only the US has the right and the power to destabilize governments.
Syria has had to deal with US imposed sanctions since 2004 when the Syrian government was accused of “supporting terrorism, continuing its occupation of Lebanon, pursuing weapons of mass destruction and missile programs, and undermining United States and international efforts with respect to the stabilization and reconstruction of Iraq. .”
In 2011, Obama signed an order prohibiting any sale, supply or services to Syria from the US or by a US national. These remain in place and Syria remains on the list of state sponsors of terrorism.
Accusing Syria of sponsoring terrorism is an oxymoron. Syria has been the victim of terrorism sponsored by the US since 2011 when the US decided that Bashar al Assad was not fit to lead his country. This despite the fact that Assad received over 80% of the popular vote.
It has also been established that the US was arming and financing al Nusra and al Qaeda, formerly listed as terrorist organizations, in order to overthrow Assad’s government.
Not only has Syria had to tolerate US economic sanctions but the US has invaded Syria, a sovereign nation, militarily. As a result, tens of thousands of Syrians have died while millions have left their homes seeking safety and shelter.
In 2011, the United States imposed commercial and financial sanctions against the Libyan government of Moammar Gadhafi. These sanctions were part of a much larger effort from Western governments to overthrow the Gadhafi government, with the help of a NATO bombing campaign, which eventually allowed rebels to take over and kill Gadhafi.
Libya is currently in the ongoing throws of violence and chaos, which is the direct result of the U.S.-and-NATO-supported intervention.
In Yemen, the U.S. imposed sanctions against government officials in 2012 during its civil war. These sanctions were further tightened in 2014, which included the freezing of government officials’ assets in the U.S. and prohibits U.S. citizens and institutions from engaging in financial transactions with Yemen.
In March of 2014, the U.S. imposed sanctions against then-president of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovich and the politician Viktor Medvedchuk, prohibiting their entry to the U.S. and freezing their assets. The U.S. went on to support the overthrow of the Yanukovich government and the division of the country.
When the coup took place against Ukraine’s president Yanukovich, Russia’s president Putin supported the independence of regions of the Ukraine and the re-incorporation of Crimea into Russia, following an overwhelming referendum in favor.
The U.S. subsequently announced sanctions against Russian government officials in March 2014, which it justified with the argument that Russia was violating the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.
While the US tramples on the sovereignty of other countries, it has the chutzpah to point to Russia as the violator of sovereignty.
All because of “our” exceptionalism. It is easy to see the trail of kindness exhibited by the US over the years.
Who will sanction the US for its continuous crimes against humanity and the deaths of millions of innocent people?
Dave Alpert has masters degrees in social work, educational administration, and psychology. He spent his career working with troubled inner city adolescents.