Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Sanctions or engagement? It depends

Bridging the Shia-Sunni Divide With Free Trade -

Sept. 11, Inter Press Service
by Meena Janardhan

DUBAI - While Iran and the United States exchange aggressive statements, the Arab countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have been busy building trade relations with Tehran and charting an economic course with a potential of mending ties in a tough neighbourhood.
Here's an example of engagement to bridge differences. I've been thinking about the use of sanctions as opposed to engagement.

Sanctions worked beautifully in South Africa, leading to the downfall of apartheid. But in Cuba they have merely served to preserve a Communist anachronism in amber. (Whether that's good or bad for the Cuban people is another discussion.) There's no doubt that North Korea would be better off if we engaged with them instead of sanctioning them.

When to sanction, when to engage? I think the answer depends on the situation. South Africa was a secular system that exploited racism for economic benefit. Many of our "enemies" today are religious (including Communist) zealots. Sanctions isolate them and push them further into extremism.

Repressive secular systems, on the other hand, quickly see the economic disadvantages of the sanctions and begin to change their ways. They don't have the religious zeal to suffer deprivation willingly. That's why I think imposing carefully chosen sanctions on Saddam Hussein--a secular dictator--in 1991 would have been a better idea than starting the Gulf War.

We waited until after the Gulf War to impose sanctions on Saddam. Unfortunately, they were so unreasonable that they caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of children.

I look forward to this new engagement of Iran by Iran's former enemies in the region.

Too bad that our administration's approach is to ratchet up the threat level. The majority of our administration is now openly espousing an attack on Iran, possibly with nuclear weapons, which may happen any day. This will turn the entire world against us, and most particularly the oil-rich Middle East, and cause death and hideous suffering to millions of blameless human beings. Too bad that Congress is buying the hype that Iran somehow poses a threat to us.

If Congress is too scared to stop this attack, it's the duty of every patriotic American to stand up and demand that our leaders stop this rogue administration.

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