Bret Stephens likes collective punishment:
It’s good that the Biden administration, which has done so well in standing up to Putin, has now thrown its weight behind Iran’s protests, including by trying to keep Iranians connected to the internet via Elon Musk’s Starlink boxes. It can do even better by withdrawing from the nuclear talks, on the principle that a regime that will not give relief to women deserves no relief from sanctions.
Iran hawks do not and have never cared about the plight of the Iranian people. That has been obvious for a long time. That is why it is more than a little tiresome to watch as they seize on the latest protests over the outrageous abuses of the Iranian government to justify their ghoulish support for broad sanctions that do nothing but hurt the Iranian people. The Iranian government should be held accountable for the deaths of innocent protesters and for the outrageous death of Mahsa Amini, but that has nothing to do with the negotiations over the nuclear deal and it should not be an excuse to keep cruel and inhumane broad sanctions in place.
Denying Iranians sanctions relief in the name of opposing their government’s authoritarian abuses is the sort of stupid and destructive thing that Iran hawks specialize in. The Iranian people have enough to endure from their own government without having to suffer under our government’s pointless sanctions as well. Punishing an entire population for its government’s actions seems particularly dimwitted when so many of those people are protesting against their government’s abuses. If you respect what the protesters are standing for, you should oppose our government’s own abusive sanctions policy that also causes them harm.
The chief victims of broad sanctions are innocent Iranians. Iranian women bear the greatest burden of the conditions created by economic warfare. They are the ones that stand to benefit most from sanctions relief, and by opposing Iran hawks declare themselves to be hostile to the welfare of ordinary Iranians. Refusing to give them relief in order to spite their government is as twisted as it gets.
Daniel Larison is a weekly columnist for Antiwar.com and maintains his own site at Eunomia. He is former senior editor at The American Conservative. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.