Recent sanctions leveled against Iran seem troublesome, and as some (like Ron Paul) have indicated, seem to be the last or next-to-last step before armed conflict in our relations. In my case, trying to promote freedom and liberty by constricting it (to a country that would greatly benefit from it) seems counterproductive. In the case of Iraq, crippling sanctions resulted in the deaths of half a million children and women in the 1990s. Hardly justifiable. Sanctions have also failed in North Korea, Cuba, and Venezuela. No regime change is apparently imminent in either country. Instead, some of the poorest and most repressed on the earth become even poorer as their trade with other countries is restricted. A far better policy would be to follow the Golden Rule, treating other countries as we would want to be treated. This method would lead to greater peace and prosperity, and would make America the “city on the hill” it aspires to be, rather than the “king of the hill” it sometimes appears to be.
However, there is some good news to be found. For one, Turkey and Brazil tried to go the third-party enrichment route (Iran’s refusal was reportedly the US’s rationale for issuing the sanctions in the first place), and though they succeeded in getting Iran to agree to having its uranium enriched elsewhere, both countries were informed it was too late, and that the sanctions were going forward. Both boldly opposed the sanctions.
Russia and China were both interested in softening the sanctions; and soften them they did. What the UN passed was far from the “crippling sanctions” US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promised to impose. One of the biggest reasons was that China and Russia insisted on softening the sanctions, or they would not be passed. I applaud such efforts to reduce the costliness of sanctions on a country that definitely could benefit from trade, especially at this juncture.