New Sanctions Strangle the Iranian People Even More

Originally appeared at The American Conservative.

The latest Iran sanctions imposed by the Trump administration are yet another attack on the civilian population. Brian O’Toole explains:

The CBI has already been sanctioned for at least two decades, generally prohibiting US companies from engaging in business with the CBI, and subject to secondary sanctions for a decade, threatening sanctions against foreign financial institutions for engaging with the CBI. The September 20 action in practical terms only serves to remove the CBI’s status as falling within the US humanitarian exemptions for Iran and further impedes the delivery of food, medicine, and medical devices to Iran [bold mine-DL].

It was already clear that the Trump administration wasn’t interested in providing safe channels for humanitarian trade. They have refused to identify safe channels, they have discouraged other governments from setting up their own, and they have threatened our allies when they try to create workarounds to facilitate humanitarian trade. The administration has imposed such onerous restrictions on financial institutions that it was very difficult if not impossible for Iranians to make payments for the imported goods they need. This is a well-documented problem that is leading directly to shortages of critical medicines for cancer patients and others suffering from rare and serious diseases. Now the administration has made the noose even tighter. The Iranian people are once again the ones that will pay the price for this vengeful abuse of power. O’Toole continues:

The only appreciable impact of the September 20 designation will be to further impair the delivery of food and medicine to the Iranian people, who are already struggling to get needed supplies and to antagonize US partners around the globe who want to export such goods, especially the European Union.

Trump’s decision to impose additional sanctions will do even more harm to ordinary Iranians. It is a pointless and destructive move. It can only serve to deepen Iranian resentment against the U.S., alienate our allies in Europe, and give the Iranian government fodder for their rhetoric denouncing “economic terrorism” against their country. The people of Iran are once more being punished for the actions of a government they don’t control. The policy is as unjust as it is cruel and stupid. O’Toole concludes:

Instead of imposing costs on the Iranian regime for the attack, the Trump administration has instead aimed its response at the Iranian people, who are the ones who actually suffer when humanitarian goods cannot be imported, with a side swipe at its closest allies abroad who support and encourage such trade.

To make matters worse, this latest action intensifies the economic war that has brought the US and Iran so dangerously close to war, and it is the exact opposite of the de-escalation that the administration should be pursuing.

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at The American Conservative, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and is a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Dallas. Follow him on Twitter. This article is reprinted from The American Conservative with permission.