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It's The War, Stupid!

By Chris Gelken  Posted by Chris Gelken (about the submitter)       (Page 1 of 3 pages)   1 comment
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US Economic Crisis: Bush blames sub-prime loans, experts blame the war  

Switzerland promptly gave the diplomatic finger to Washington following criticism over Bern´s recently signed gas deal with Iran, saying it did not need US permission to make decisions about its foreign policy.

Responding to accusations from the Bush administration and Israel that the US$42 billion agreement violated the spirit (but obviously not the substance) of the third round of United Nations sanctions against Tehran over its nuclear program, Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey said Switzerland was an independent country and quite capable of making its own strategic decisions.

"It was refreshing to hear somebody, particularly a European country, speak of their national sovereignty and right to act as an independent nation," legal affairs analyst Edward Spannaus told PressTV News.

"In this case," he said, "the Swiss Foreign Minister said they were successfully mixing diplomacy and business, and that this policy of engagement was part of their dialogue with Iran on human rights. Now, not only is that a more sensible policy than what is being carried out by the Bush administration, but it is their right to do that."

Attempting to influence countries to follow the "spirit" of the sanctions, as well as the sanctions themselves, effectively adds an extra layer of penalties on the target nation, penalties not approved by the Security Council.

"I think the US can only add as much pressure on these countries as they are willing to accept," Spannaus said, "There are legal experts in the US who say the deal does not even violate US sanctions law which allows for these types of contracts. So therefore, the State Department here has to resort to talking about the spirit of the law."

Other political and economic analysts believe the United States should not even be in the sanctions business.

"Sanctions are an act of war, an act of imperialism," said Professor Paul Sheldon Foote of California State University, "America should not be imposing sanctions. America´s political leaders say this is a country for capitalism, for free enterprise and for democracy. Sanctions should play no part in that. We had a Republican candidate for president, Ron Paul, who strongly denounced sanctions. Any true Republican and any true capitalist will have no part of sanctions."

And according to Spannaus, there are plenty of people in the United States who agree.

"There is not a lot of enthusiasm in the United States for these types of sanctions," he said.

"There is a group in Congress called the Dialogue Congress which favors engagement. There are business groups opposed to sanctions. We´ve got sanctions on dozens of countries around the world. It is a foolish policy, it doesn´t work. Business groups here say we are only cutting off our nose to spite our face."

Sanctions, an instrument designed to exert economic hardship on a target nation, frequently have the opposite effect. It often hardens the target country´s resolve to resist what they usually perceive as bullying by more powerful or arrogant nations.

Spannaus cited Cuba as a classic example of the self defeating nature of sanctions.

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British journalist currently based in Tehran, Iran.
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