Thousands dead in Syria from earthquake elicited not a shred of empathy in Uncle Sam’s damaged conscience. Ten years of sanctions degrading life, even ending it for innocents in Syria, will continue while Syrians dig out the bodies buried under the rubble.
Much of the civilized world is calling for the end to decade long sanctions designed to remove President Assad. Since we’re lavishing weapons of war on some highly authoritarian countries, it’s not because of his authoritarian rule. It’s linked to his alliance with Russia and Iran, two of our biggest imaginary enemies.
So instead of removing sanctions and offering assistance to Assad’s government in a monumental relief effort, we’re committed to ‘No relief for Syria till Assad is gone, Syrian humanity be damned.’ Or to paraphrase former president George H.W. Bush…”Wouldn’t be prudent.”
Besides refusing any relief of assistance to Syria, the US claims we’re not impeding private NGO humanitarian efforts. But according to the New York Times, US sanctions policy means Syria “is not able to receive direct aid from many countries.” While sanctions have exemptions for humanitarian goods, many banks block transactions with aid groups in Syria out of fear of America’s wrath.
Ignoring humanitarian disasters for countries we hate is nothing new for America. Last June our sanctions on Afghanistan stalled relief efforts when an earthquake struck there, killing over a thousand. Even the UN reported US sanctions complicated aid deliveries. Since the Taliban whupped America, sending us fleeing our 20 year defilement of Afghanistan, those sanctions remain in place, putting 6 million Afghans at risk of famine. Revenge is sweet for America…deadly for Afghanistan.
US sanctions afflicting over 20 countries is a national disgrace. But when they’re used to degrade countries we hate suffering natural catastrophes, it’s particularly grotesque.
Walt Zlotow became involved in antiwar activities upon entering University of Chicago in 1963. He is current president of the West Suburban Peace Coalition based in the Chicago western suburbs. He blogs daily on antiwar and other issues at www.heartlandprogressive.blogspot.com.