Peter Beinart makes a good case that broad sanctions regimes are immoral and destructive:
Why are policies that have proved so ineffective and immoral so hard to undo? Because abandoning them would require admitting hard truths: North Korea will not abandon its nuclear weapons. Iran will remain a regional power. Mr. Assad, Mr. Maduro and the Communist government in Havana aren’t going anywhere. America’s leaders would rather punish already brutalized populations than concede the limits of American power.
Like other forms of open-ended, desultory warfare, broad sanctions that affect entire countries need to be brought to an end. Just as we repudiate military attacks on civilian targets, we need to renounce economic warfare whose main and sometimes only victims are innocent civilians. The U.S. has enormous power to damage the economies of other countries, but exercising this power by strangling tens of millions of people with sanctions is inherently abusive and wrong. Pointing to the economic wreckage that sanctions create, as sanctions advocates often do, is akin to boasting about committing indiscriminate bombing of cities. As Beinart says, sanctions typically don’t achieve the goals that their supporters seek, but the more important point is that we cannot justify the means of impoverishing and starving people by pointing to the ends that these cruel policies might serve.
The US does need to recognize the limits of its power, but more than that it needs to recognize that there are some things that it has no right to demand even if it might be able to coerce another government into doing it. The fundamental error of the “maximum pressure” campaigns that have been waged against Iran and Venezuela, among others, is that it is taken for granted that the US has the right to dictate their internal and external policies. Our government does not have that right, and it never did. When a government is presented with such extreme ultimatums that threaten its independence or even its survival, it is always going to dig in and refuse to give any ground. Sanctions cannot possibly achieve such maximalist ends, and by pursuing such ends the US makes a mockery of its past commitments to respecting the independence and sovereignty of other countries.
The system has been around for many years. At any given time, hundreds of petitions were active. If you get 100,000 signatures, the White House is supposed to give an answer. You may remember that there was an active “Free Assange” petition that the Obama Administration was obligated to answer (and gave a bad answer).
When Trump took office, he briefly discontinued it but put it back up after a media uproar.
This URL, as well as URLs for all currently-active petitions, just forward to the White House front page. I explored the website and could not find any mention of it. The link used to appear in both the “Contact” and “Get Involved” links, but it is gone from both.
I have seen nothing about this in the media. When I Google “White House Petition System Down” and other similar searches, I only get 4-year-old articles about the time that Trump temporarily disabled it.
Wikipedia says that the system was taken down the day Biden took office: On January 20 2021, the day the Inauguration of Joe Biden took place, the website’s address started redirecting to the White House’s website home address.
This is a terrible event, and it must be publicized, and Biden must be made to reverse this decision.
“If you want peace, prepare for war!” Sergei Lavrov, 11 February 2021 speaking on cutting relations with the EU
In a televised interview on Russian state television yesterday, Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov made this declaration together with the threat to cut relations with the EU if Russia’s vital economic interests were put in danger by any further sanctions they might consider imposing. His remarks were clearly calculated to turn on a light in the thick skulls of EU Parliamentarians, of the EU Commission run by former German Defense Minister von der Leyen, and of her deputy for external relations Borrell.
“Prepare for war” is an old bit of wisdom that we have heard from time to time coming from the Kremlin together with related folk wisdom such as : if you do not finance properly your own army, you will be financing someone else’s army; and if you cannot deal with Lavrov, then you will have to deal with Shoigu (Russian Defense Minister).