Imposing Sanctions is a Declaration of War

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | MARCH 8, 2013

If one looks through the list of events that can unleash military conflict between two or more nations, short of an unexpected military attack, sanctions is probably one of the top triggers for aggression. In a world as interconnected as the one we live today, sanctions are not only ineffective in curbing a country’s intention to achieve a goal, as recent history shows, but it is also a dangerous precedent that directly harms the prospect of international diplomacy.

It does not matter whether it is Diplomatic, Economic, Military, Trade or Sports sanctions, countries will always find a way to move around the limitations imposed by say, the United Nations, to get access to raw materials, money, equipment or to form strategic alliances. The only sure outcome that the imposition of sanctions brings is conflict. If anyone believes that Iran’s or North Korea’s threats to attack neighboring nations or western countries is exaggerated and dangerous, it is necessary to ask why would so-called non-aligned nations threaten with nuclear attacks or other forms of retaliation.

Under international law –something western countries love to cite when their interests are at stake, but now when they intend to harm non-aligned nations– sanctions are not only illegal, but also a provocateur action. As established by a 1996 report issued by the International Progress Organization, sanctions of any type, but especially those of the economic type, are “an illegitimate form of collective punishment of the weakest and poorest members of society, the infants, the children, the chronically ill, and the elderly.”

Governments punished with sanctions do not actually suffer any harm. The oligarchical or political classes in a country that is punished with sanctions do not suffer any harm, either. In fact, despite imposing sanctions, many supporters of such a tool of aggression continue to trade raw materials, military equipment and other products with sanctioned nations.

Although aggressor nations such as the United States, France, Germany, Italy and other that support sanctions on non-aligned countries claim that sanctions are the only way to stop a country from doing something they do not agree with, the truth is that as it is shown with every new round of sanctions, the next step is usually more conflict, more isolation and more suffering for the poorest people. Thus, sanctions are a step towards war, not towards peaceful solutions to bilateral or multilateral conflict.

The first step that needs to be taken to diplomatically solve a bilateral or multilateral problem is to avoid imposing sanctions or to remove all sanctions that already exist. This is so not only because punishment is not a positive incentive to negotiate, but also because no smart leader will seat to debate what to do about any issue with most of his or her people dying of hunger, disease or with an economy that is in the hole due to limitations imposed by aggressors. Of course, it is also possible that dictatorial regimes use sanctions and aggression from outside to manipulate the population in order to amass power, as it happens in North Korea, for example.

So what to make of North Korea’s latest threats towards the United States and its allies, after they met and voted in favor of imposing even more sanctions on that country? North Korea responded to the latest round of sanctions from the U.N. Security Council, which attempts to hurt the regime so it stops working on its nuclear program by directly threatening the United States with a preemptive nuclear attack if it continues to push for more aggression. Pyongyang also threatened South Korea in the last few days by saying it will abolish the armistice agreement that stopped the Korean War in 1953.

The latest round of sanctions imposed on North Korea, the U.N. Security Council says, is a response to Pyongyang’s latest nuclear test, which incidentally were a reaction to the joint military drills conducted by the United States and South Korea. These drills occur every year and Kim Jong Un has cataloged them as a direct threat to his country.

An interesting premise for a complete analysis of this situation would be to invert reality and suppose that Cuba agrees to carry out military drills together with Iran or Venezuela somewhere in the Caribbean or a few hundred miles off the coast of Florida. How comfortable would the United States be? How would Washington react if one of its dearest enemies comes by to run drills with nations located close to its coast?

If sanctions imposed on Iraq, Syria and Libya did not yield positive results –the final outcome was war, which is what they are supposed to avoid–, if sanctions have not worked against Iran and certainly have not worked against North Korea, why are imperialist western powers still imposing more sanctions on third world nations? Is it not abundantly clear that sanctions is not one of the best tools to curb a country’s appetite for whatever western powers dislike? The answer is, conflict is everything that those who control western nations want to have, because it furthers their agenda to divide and conquer, to balkanize and bring unrest to nations that, just as they do, have the natural right to defend themselves if directly or indirectly threatened.

Having said that, it is clear that power drunk men such as Kim Jong Un, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Barack Obama should not be simply left alone or much less encouraged to do what they please with their war toys. If dictators are taken down in the East, they should also be removed in the West. Or is that the threat posed by a dictator in the West is less dangerous just because he is a western educated ‘sane’ man?

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Assad says Great Britain wants to further militarize conflict in Syria

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | MARCH 4, 2013

Since the civil war began in Syria, the public has head president Bashar al-Assad talk about the role of the rebel terrorists in the multiple attacks against civilians, hospitals and other infrastructure. Outside Syria, everyone knows that the rebels are being armed by the United States and a short list of European nations who want Assad dead or out of Syria. But this is the first time since the conflict began that President Assad explicitly blames a western sponsor for the escalation of the conflict.

Assad has accused Britain of “militarizing” the crisis in his country, given recent British government efforts to convince other countries of the European Union to authorize shipment of arms to the rebels. The shipment of weapons has been going on for at least two years, but no western government has officially recognized their secret support to the terrorists. “Don’t expect me to act as a pyromaniac firefighter,” said Assad in an interview with the British newspaper The Sunday Times.

“To be honest, Britain has had a famously unhelpful role in our region, in different cases, over many decades,” said Assad. “The problem with the government now is its superficial and immature rhetoric, which only highlights the tradition of bullying and hegemony.” At a meeting on Thursday in Rome, the Friends of Syria met with Western powers, including the U.S. and the EU, to clarify the reach of their support to the different factions of terrorists that work under the umbrella of the Syrian opposition.

Publicly, Western nations aiding the terrorists in Syria have naively expressed their concern about the possibility that some weapons fall into the hands of jihadi militias that have infiltrated the opposition and that the West claims are legitimate. In his interview, Assad spoke of those fears, saying that he would be willing to talk with the rebels if they lay down their arms, “but not with terrorists who are willing to use weapons to terrorize the population, kill civilians and attack public spaces and destroy the country. ”

“The British government wants to send military aid to the moderate groups in Syria, even though it is well-known that these groups are not moderate,” said Assad. “We all know now that our fight is against Al Qaeda, the Al Nusra Front, an arm of Al Qaeda, and other groups of people indoctrinated with extremist ideologies.” According to Assad, Israeli intelligence actually fears that these terrorists will carry the radical groups around the Middle East to destabilize the region.

“We have an opposition that is part of the political institutions and armed terrorists there. We are ready to dialogue with the opposition but not with terrorists. We fight against terrorists,” said Assad, adding that, despite international pressure, he will not leave power.

The two-year civil war in Syria has resulted in the death of more than 70,000 people, according to United Nations. The number of refugees has also seen an upward spike and will soon exceed one million people.

Assad warned the U.S. and Europe from what, in his view, can happen if the regime falls and jihadist groups take over. “Europe, the U.S. and others will pay direly for the price of instability in the region.” Well, that is exactly what the Western instigators want: chaos and death to bring about ‘order’ by their own means. Assad added that his departure from power would not solve the conflict: “It is absurd, and recent precedents in Libya, Yemen and Egypt attest to this.”

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Santa gets early to Egypt as U.S. gives Morsi’s Military 20 new F-16s

AP | DECEMBER 11, 2012

The Egyptian military on Monday assumed joint responsibility with the police for security and protecting state institutions until the results of a Dec. 15 constitutional referendum are announced.

The army took up the task in line with a decree issued Sunday by President Mohammed Morsi. The Islamist leader on Monday also suspended a series of tax hikes announced the previous day on alcohol, cigarettes and other items.

The presidential edict orders the military and police to jointly maintain security in the run-up to Saturday’s vote on the disputed charter, which was hurriedly approved last month by a panel dominated by the president’s Islamist allies despite a boycott of the committee’s liberal, secular and Christian members.

The decree also grants the military the right to arrest civilians, but presidential spokesman Yasser Ali said it was nowhere near a declaration of martial law.

“It is merely a measure to extend legal cover for the armed forces while they are used to maintain security,” Ali told The Associated Press.

There were no signs of a beefed up military presence outside the presidential palace, the site of fierce street clashes last week, or elsewhere in the capital on Monday.

Still, Morsi’s decision to lean on the military to safeguard the vote is widely seen as evidence of just how jittery the government is about the referendum on the draft constitution, which has been at the heart of days of dueling protests by the opposition and Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood backers. The two sides clashed in Cairo last week, leaving at least six people dead and hundreds wounded in the worst violence of the crisis.

Both the opposition and Morsi’s supporters have called for mass rallies on Tuesday.

The opposition has rejected the referendum, but has yet to call for a boycott or instead a “no” vote at the polls.

“A decision on whether we call for a boycott of the referendum or campaign for a `no’ vote remains under discussion,” Hossam Moanis, a spokesman for the National Salvation Front grouping opposition parties and groups told the AP on Monday. “For now, we reject the referendum as part of our rejection of the draft constitution.”

The military last week sent out several tanks and armored vehicles in the vicinity of the presidential palace in Cairo following protests there by tens of thousands of Morsi’s critics. It was the first high-profile deployment by the military since it handed power in June to Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected president.

Morsi on Saturday rescinded decrees issued Nov. 22 granting him near absolute powers and placing him above any oversight, including by the courts. He has, however, insisted that the referendum will go ahead on schedule.

Judges have gone on strike to protest Morsi’s perceived “assault” on the judiciary and have said they would not oversee the Dec. 15 vote as is customary for judges in Egypt. Judges of the nation’s administrative courts announced Monday they were conditionally lifting their boycott of the vote, but they said their supervision of the process was conditional on bringing an end to the siege of the Supreme Constitutional Court by Morsi’s supporters.

In exchange for their supervision, they also demanded assurances that authorities would crack down on vote canvassing outside polling stations and offer life insurance policies to the judges.

Morsi’s deputy, Mahmoud Mekki, has said the vote could be staggered over several days if there were not enough judges to oversee the referendum.

The court was widely expected to dissolve the panel that drafted the constitution in a session scheduled for Dec. 2. The siege of the Nile-side building in Cairo’s Maadi district began Dec. 1.

In a surprise move, Morsi on Monday rescinded a series of decrees issued the previous day to raise taxes on a wide range of items and services, including alcohol, cigarettes, mobile phones, services offered by hotels and bank loans.

The state-owned daily Al-Ahram said the Sunday decrees to raise taxes were issued by Morsi. On Monday, the official MENA news agency carried a statement from Morsi’s office saying the president has decided to “suspend” the tax increases.

“The president does accept that citizens shoulder any additional burdens except by choice,” the statement said. Morsi, it added, has ordered a public debate on the increases to gauge popular reaction.

“The people will always have the loudest voice and final decision,” it added.

It was not immediately clear why Morsi changed his mind about the tax hikes in a matter of hours, but the about-face appeared to have more to do with inexperience rather than a bid by the president to appear sympathetic with the majority of Egyptians who struggle daily to make end meet as the economy’s woes deepen. A popular backlash against tax hikes could hurt the chances of the Morsi-backed draft constitution being ratified in the referendum.

Egypt and the IMF last month have reached an initial agreement for a $4.8 billion loan to revive the country’s ailing economy. The deal, agreed after nearly three weeks of negotiations in Cairo, will support the government’s economic program for 22 months, the IMF said in a statement.

Egyptian authorities said at the time that it intended to raise revenues through tax reform, using the resources generated from new taxes to boost social spending and investment in new infrastructure.

 

A Silent Killer in Times of War and in Times of Peace

April 12, 2011

It was used in both Gulf War I and II; in Kuwait, Afghanistan, Bosnia, and now in Libya. Even though it is widely known how dangerous this toxic substance is, the United States and Britain have refused to sign a ban that prevents aggressors from using it when involved in military conflict. With an average lifespan of 4.5 million years, depleted uranium will continue to murder almost indefinitely, generation after generation with no consequences for those who utilize it indiscriminately against innocent and unsuspecting populations.