Sanctions play a specific role to keep countries “in check” or “in line” with Washington’s vision for the world... After all, why get your hands dirty when you can isolate your opponent into starvation?

  • Ending sanctions is not enough - The US 'rules-based order' must be replaced

The world has seen how horrific US-led sanctions can be. From blocking lifesaving medicine to completely locking out private citizens from their hard-earned money, the cruelty of US-led sanctions cannot be downplayed. 

Take for example the case of Syria, which was struck by a horrific earthquake earlier this year. Thousands of lives were lost and millions of dollars worth of damage was estimated, and the sanctions placed on the country made it almost impossible to get any help. As a matter of fact, the rubble was still being cleared out when the US imposed a new round of sanctions - specifically to prevent the normalization of other countries with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. No words are enough to describe how criminal that may be. 

Sanctions play a specific role to keep countries “in check” or “in line” with Washington’s vision for the world. If a country decides to deviate from this vision, according to this “rules-based order", assets can be frozen, trade can be blocked, and more. They are arguably the United States’ best weapon - starving people and destroying economies without a single shot fired. After all, why get your hands dirty when you can isolate your opponent into starvation?

In recent years, there has been a growing call to end these sanctions. More people are becoming aware of Washington’s ability to starve out populations. The claim that sanctions only “target individual people” is being refuted as they do in fact hurt innocent people. It is collective punishment. 

Calls to end sanctions are shared not only by targeted countries but by anti-war activists throughout the world as well. Take for example Cuba: a country unilaterally blockaded by the United States for over 60 years. Cuba is not only supported by leaders from the majority of the world in its calls to lift the illegal blockade and sanctions, but it enjoys popular support among peace activists, primarily an emerging left wing in the Western world.

The shared attitudes toward these horrific sanctions are a step in the right direction. More people are recognizing that illegal, unilateral sanctions imposed primarily by the US are unjust and coercive. Calls to end them should be embraced. But, ending sanctions alone while ignoring the greater issue would be a strategic mistake. 

Even if sanctions are lifted, under the current framework in global politics, that would mean integration into an economic system led and dominated by Washington. Sanctions would be lifted, but it would still be Washington’s game. This is a framework that is only meant to facilitate the rule of the US ruling class. It allows for “independence” - but again, only if a country stays within “the rules-based order” created by and for Washington.

Countries should not only have their sanctions lifted, but they should be able to pursue and create a global framework of trade that does not rely on Washington or the dollar.

Russia has shown the world that it is very much possible to live outside of Washington’s framework. In the wake of the Special Military Operation in 2022, Russia was subjected to sanctions on a scale never before seen. The goal of the sanctions was to completely isolate Russia, break Russia’s markets, and make Russia a "pariah" on the global stage. 

Evidently, this has backfired. Russia has dodged the sanctions and created an alternative economic policy - one that is not reliant on the West. Ironically, the same countries that have followed US policy and blocked themselves off from Russia end up paying for Russian goods anyway. European countries that sanctioned Russian gas ended up buying it anyway from India. 

Had Russia not found a backdoor, the sanctions would have crushed the Russian economy. Perhaps the Special Military Operation would have concluded quickly with a Russian defeat. But the refusal to integrate into the current framework - one written, enforced, and protected by the United States ruling class - has been the major key to its success.

Sanctions can be defeated - and they are being defeated. In the growing multipolar world, diplomacy and trade based on mutual respect and benefit is rendering the sanctions ineffective. With this, de-dollarization will also play a significant role. Countries that have been ransacked economically by the United States - like Iraq - are dropping the dollar completely. Saudi Arabia is flirting with the idea of conducting business in the Chinese Yuan - potentially spelling out the end of the US petrodollar.

Iran is also one of the key players in the growing multipolar world economy - sidestepping the sanctions regime imposed on it by the US for decades. Last week, Iran’s President Raisi was in Latin America - specifically in Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Cuba. All four countries have been within Washington’s crosshairs - being targeted by cruel sanctions to destroy their economies, as well as threats of violence - from coup attempts to assassinations. The tour consisted of high-level meetings to establish economic and diplomatic ties.

In the recent past, Iran has bolstered significant economic expansion with Venezuela, leaving almost no industry off the table. Iran has even worked on oil refineries in Venezuela and delivered tankers directly to the Latin American county. Similar trade projects can also be potentially reached with Nicaragua and Cuba - further dismissing a need for integrating with a US-led economy. 

In fact, even the political elites in the United States are conceding that countries getting around the dollar are making sanctions ineffective - Marco Rubio admits that this trend would render sanctions useless in a matter of years.

Ending sanctions is, of course, a net positive. It will help save lives, create jobs, and help with common prosperity. Sanctions fuel chaos and disorder, which is precisely the sort of context Washington needs to invade nations, execute coups, and de-legitimize democratically elected world leaders.

Ultimately, for a freer and just world, the threat of sanctions - particularly, unilateral and illegal ones Washington routinely imposes -  must be put to a complete end. The only way to ensure the sanctions are rendered ineffective is by ditching the current global economic framework - one that is made for and by the US ruling class. 

In order to do this, an alternative global economy must be embraced. There must be a refusal to integrate with the current “rules-based order", and a framework of mutual respect must be established. All trends show this is a growing global trend - and if that is the case - then thankfully, for once, Marco Rubio would be right - sanctions would become ineffective. 

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