The new sanctions bill which will soon appear on Donald Trump’s desk targets three countries: Russia, Iran and North Korea.
Each country has responded in three different yet equally defiant ways.
The sanctions against Russia have been the most widely discussed for three reasons.
a. Donald Trump continues to be accused (without evidence) of having ties with Russia and furthermore it is accused that Russia hacked the DNC’s computers (also with no evidence) during the 2016 US election.
b. Donald Trump campaigned on a pledge to improve relations with Russia.
c. The sanctions which may soon hit Russia are deeply unpopular among America’s EU allies.
Russia first responded by cutting off access to warehouses in Russia used by the US Embassy in Moscow. Russia further made arrangements to limit America’s diplomatic personnel in Russia from 1,100 to 455.
This is a response that is if anything slightly less than proportional to Barack Obama’s seizure of entire diplomatic compounds in the US which are legally on Russian soil as defined by the Vienna Convention.
Russia’s current response is a sign of supreme anger at the fact that the US has failed to restore Russian property in the US back to the Russian Embassy combined with an immediate response to the sanctions which will likely come into effect in short order.
This might only be the beginning of things as Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov warned of further retaliatory measures which would “bring the US to its senses”.
2. North Korea
Reports have surfaced that North Korea responded to the future sanctions in typical North Korean fashion, by firing a still unidentified missile into the Sea of Japan.
The US has stated it believes the projectile to be a ballistic missile, while South Korea stated that the projectile landed off the east coast of the DPRK (North Korea).
Japanese media however assert that it landed in Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone.
— NHKニュース (@nhk_news) July 28, 2017
North Korea often responds to both military and economic threats in just this fashion. It is a clear statement from Pyongyang that sanctions and threats from the US will not deter its missile programme.
Russia later confirmed that the projectile was an intermediate range ballistic missile.
Iran has conducted a successful Simorgh rocket launch which has put an Iranian satellite into space.
The US responded with additional sanctions on Iran, over and above the ones which recently passed congress.
According to a statement form the US Treasury Department,
“The US government will continue to aggressively counter Iran’s ballistic missile-related activity, whether it be a provocative space launch, its development of threatening ballistic missile systems, or likely support to Yemeni Houthi missile attacks on Saudi Arabia such as occurred this past weekend”.
U. S. Treasury Department On Iran Sanctions: pic.twitter.com/WMFprVF4iA
— White House Patch (@WhiteHousePatch) July 28, 2017
In this respect, it seems dubious at best to link a peaceful space-launch with weaponised rockets. Furthermore, the weapons which Yemeni Houtis use are generally rudimentary and tend to have very little impact on the conflict in Yemen. Saudi Arabia is expensively armed by the US yet its generally under-trained military still have not been able to beat the modestly armed Houtis.
Sanctions are a weapon of mass destruction and the US uses them with impunity. Sanctions have virtually never resulted in a government changing course, not that it is the job of the US to change other sovereign states’ form of governance in the first place. Sanctions have however lead to starvation, deprivation, death and illness in many of the places where they have been implemented including in Iraq in the 1990s and Syria over the last several years of US proxy conflict.
It is high time for the UN to condemn and ban the use of sanctions in any context under the same guise that chemical weapons have been banned. Sanctions are a barbaric tool which inflicts suffering on civilians throughout the globe. Such atrocities cannot ever be justified.
That being said, the US has found the sanctions are if anything less effective now than at any previous time. The multi-polar world is a world in which the countries that the US once understood to be economically dependant on the west are now fully capable of either running a successful internal economy and/or trading and conducting commerce with nations that are not in the US financial or political sphere of influence.
Rather than empty words of condemnation, Russia, North Korea and Iran have acted defiantly, showing the United States in their own unique ways, that Washington is not the epicentre of the world.
While Russia, North Korea and Iran are correctly insulted by these measures, they have already made provisions to conduct economic relations outside of the framework of unilateral US sanctions.
What’s more is that those opposed to sanctions go beyond America’s alleged foes like North Korea and Iran as well as the other two world super-powers Russia and China. America’s traditional EU allies are equally enraged by the actions of the US Congress.
If Donald Trump signs the legislation, the United States will have turned much of the world fully against its sanctions programme.
Russian President Vladimir Putin called America’s latest sanctions an act of “arrogance”. In this respect, Putin speaks not only for Russia but the majority of the planet, America’s friends, rivals and proverbial foes alike.