by Jacob G. Hornberger
Here are seven reasons to oppose President Obama’s imposition of sanctions on Syria:
1. The struggle for freedom and democracy in Syria is none of the U.S. government’s business. U.S. officials, from Obama on down, should just butt out of what’s happening there.
Yes, I know that one of the U.S. government’s modern-day dual missions is to police the world and to punish international malefactors who do not cater to the U.S. Empire. (The other dual mission is to take care of people with welfare.)
But the point I’m making is that Americans need to ditch that paradigm — empire, world policeman, and welfare provider — and adopt instead a paradigm of a constitutionally limited republic and a foreign policy of non-interventionism.
2. The Syrian people are entitled to the dignity of trying to achieve a free and democratic society on their own. With its sanctions, the U.S. government is effectively saying to the Syrians, “You are dumb, ignorant, incompetent people who cannot do this on your own. So, we will just have to come to your assistance, especially since our officials in our State Department, CIA, and Pentagon are so much smarter than you.”
Can you imagine what U.S. officials will say if the Assad dictatorship is ousted from power? They will take the credit. They will say, “This never would have happened without our intervention. You Syrians are now beholden to us. Your new regime must now become a loyal member of the U.S. Empire, just like the dictatorships in Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and elsewhere.”
Does that mean that nothing can be done to help the Syrian people? Of course not. Private Americans should be free to offer their money and other resources and even their lives if they wish to help the Syrian people. That’s what genuine charity and personal responsibility are all about.
Also, the U.S. government can open its borders to the free movements of goods and services, which is what our American ancestors did to help people suffering under tyranny, oppression, or starvation. At least Syrians would know that if they were willing and able to escape their country, there would be at least one nation in the world that would not forcibly repatriate them to Syria.
Of course, U.S. officials oppose the idea of open borders. They say to foreigners suffering under (non-U.S. supported) dictatorships: “We love you enough to bring sanctions, embargoes, invasions, bombs, drones, and occupations to your country. But don’t dare think of immigrating to our country. We don’t love you that much.”
3. The sanctions will hurt the Syrian people and will not succeed in ousting Assad from power.
Consider Cuba, where the U.S. Empire has maintained a brutal and cruel embargo for more than 50 years. The embargo, together with Cuba’s socialist economic system, has operated as a vise that has squeezed the lifeblood out of the Cuban people.
Nonetheless, the embargo has failed to achieve the decades-old obsessive quest of U.S. officials to oust the Castro regime from power.
Consider Iraq, where the U.S. Empire maintained 11 years of one of the most brutal and cruel sanctions in history. Those sanctions killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children, deaths that the Empire claimed were worth the attempt to oust Saddam Hussein from power.
Notwithstanding all those 11 years of massive deaths of innocent children, the sanctions failed to achieve their aim of ousting Saddam Hussein from power and, in fact, solidified his central control over the country. Moreover, they were a critical factor in engendering the rage that ultimately erupted in the terrorist attacks on 9/11.
Consider Iran, where sanctions have brought about plane crashes killing innocent people because the airlines have been prevented from adequately maintaining their fleets of civilian airlines owing to the sanctions. Those plane crashes have not caused the Iranian dictators to abdicate.
4. Sanctions can lead to terrorist retaliation.
What happens if Syrians are killed by the sanctions and friends and family or even government agents retaliate with terrorist strikes here in the United States?
We all know what will happen — the same thing that happened after 9/11. President Obama, like Bush before him, will go on national television and proclaim, “We’ve been attacked! We’ve been attacked! We’re innocent! We’ve done nothing to anyone except spread freedom and democracy. We now have a new official enemy to replace al-Qaeda — the Syrian terrorist network. Unfortunately, this means we need to take away even more of your freedoms with new Patriot Acts and to increase the budgets of the CIA and the military to keep you safe. But we will win — count on it, sometime within the next 50 years. God bless America.”
5. The U.S. Empire can’t afford any more foreign conflicts. It’s broke. It’s now a deadbeat international debtor that is living off of maxed-out credit cards. The Empire is already far overextended with its imperial programs of invasions, occupations, sanctions, embargoes, torture, renditions, foreign aid, and assassinations.
6. Militarism and imperialism, and foreign interventionism in general, are contrary to the founding principles of our nation. John Quincy Adams summed up America’s rightful role in the world when he told Congress that the United States doesn’t go abroad in search of monsters to destroy. By monsters, he meant dictators and tyrants.
Adams also pointed out that if America were to ever assume the role of Empire, the U.S. government would become the dictatress of the world, which of course it has. No one can deny that. In foreign affairs, there are no limits on Obama’s powers. He is not required to seek permission of Congress before invading, occupying, torturing, assassinating, sanctioning, or embargoing,
Indeed, did you see Obama seeking the permission of Congress to impose sanctions on Syria? No. While he rails against Syrian dictatorship, Obama exercises the powers of dictatorship himself.
And he exercises such powers as part of a vast military empire consisting of hundreds of military bases all over the world. It’s an empire that imposes its will on the people of the world either through the bribery known as foreign aid or through the imposition of force in the form of invasions, occupations, sanctions, embargoes, torture, indefinite incarceration, kangaroo tribunals, kidnappings, renditions, and partnerships with brutal dictatorships.
Finally, let’s not forget that the U.S. Empire is quite selective on which dictatorships to impose sanctions on. While imposing sanctions on regimes that refuse to kow-tow to the Empire, it embraces, supports, or even enters into torture partnerships with such dictatorships as those in Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Jordan. In fact, don’t forge the U.S. Empire even once had a torture partnership with the dictatorship in Syria itself.
7. Sanctions are an attack on the economic liberty of the American people. Private property, free trade, and freedom of travel are fundamental, natural, God-given rights with which everyone, including Americans, have been endowed. Obama has no legitimate authority to punish Americans for using their money and their economic freedom the way they want.
Everywhere you look, federal programs are in crisis. There are three reasons for this: socialism, interventionism, and imperialism. Americans thought they could abandon their principles of free enterprise, free markets, sound money, and republic without moral, political, or economic consequences.
We now know that that is false. The time has come for Americans to dismantle the statism under which we are mired and to lead the world to freedom.
Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of the Future of Freedom Foundation.
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