The European Union Announces New Sanctions Against Belarus and Iran

The EU announced more sanctions today against Belarus and Iran.  Understandably, neither has been received very well by the Iranian or Belarusian governments and will do little to achieve the goals of the recent Nobel laureate. In fact, the sanctions will ultimately continue to hurt those EU policy makers say they want to help.

Sanctions against the Belarusian government have done little in the past to motivate any expansion of civil rights in the ex-Soviet country, and there is no reason to think the recently renewed sanctions yield any different outcomes. The Belarusian government responded as you might expect:

We consider such a policy by the EU to be incompatible with good neighborly relations… Ironing out the existing differences is only possible if both sides are willing to meet each other halfway.

The unelected High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Baroness Ashton, weighed in:

We will continue to put pressure on Belarus, demanding a release and rehabilitation of all political prisoners in the country and providing support for representatives of civic society.

Quite how restricting the movement of Belarusian officials and Belarusian companies would make Lukashenko more likely to relax the style of his dictatorial rule is anyone’s guess.

The same Baroness Ashton has similar hopes for Iran, saying that she hoped the imposition of trade restrictions on Iran would make the Iranian government more likely to begin negotiations relating to their nuclear program. The American government approved of the new sanctions.

From The Chicago Tribune:

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said she hoped that turning up the heat on the Islamic Republic would persuade it to make concessions and that negotiations could resume "very soon".

"I absolutely do think there is room for negotiations," said Ashton, who represents the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany in their on-and-off talks with Iran. "I hope we will be able to make progress very soon."

One hopes that Baroness Ashton and others at the European Union have a memory longer than a matter of weeks. Only weeks ago the consequences of sanctions against Iran were seen after Iran faced a currency crisis caused largely in part by Western sanctions. The crash of the rial only hurt the people that the sanctions were trying to help and was unlikely to have fostered any pro-Western sentiments.

Sanctions against Belarus and Iran have not persuaded Belarus to embrace civil liberties or Iran to negotiate its nuclear program. It might be worth those who work for the Nobel Peace Prize laureate to consider a different approach.

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    The unelected High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Baroness Ashton...

    High representative? Baroness? Europe is fucked up.

    Anywho, if sanctions don't work, it's time to think about drone bombings or maybe a nice computer virus.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Now come on Fist, what kind of Nobel Peace Prize winner would resort to such aggressive behavior?

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    heh heh....:)

  • ||

    Good question, Hugh! I'm stumped. What was his name again...some about hope and change. I seem to recall something about not revisiting past policies. Nope, I'm still fuzzy. A little help here?

  • Cytotoxic||

    Actually, the sanctions on Iran have been surprisingly successful. They have engendered significant unrest and made the country's government poorer and less able to wreak evil.

  • Hugh Akston||

    And amazingly, all of the hardship created by the sanctions is borne by the government, without any harm to the populace whatsoever!

    Just like Cuba!

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Sanctions against Belarus and Iran have not persuaded Belarus to embrace civil liberties or Iran to negotiate its nuclear program. It might be worth those who work for the Nobel Peace Prize laureate to consider a different approach."

    For those of you who aren't keeping score, there's a race going on.

    The question is whether Iran can build a bomb before their budget breaks.

    Nobody's really sure how long it's going to take them to develop a bomb, but some of the lower estimates are running neck and neck with how long it will take them to run through their reserves. And right now, their burn rate is really high, what with the sanctions and all...

    The regime will need access to international banking soon--just to keep their people from starving or going all Arab Persian Spring on their asses..

    But if they manage to build a bomb before that's necessary? You'll see support for the sanctions break down internationally. On the other hand, if they can't build a bomb before going completely bankrupt, we may see the nuclear program go bye-bye.

    Either way, I wouldn't expect Israel or the U.S. to do anything militarily until Iran either capitulates or succeeds in building a bomb. And if this is the alternative to war, then I don't see why these sanctions in particular would mean the Europeans didn't deserve the peace prize.

  • Darin Self||

    Sanctions increase human rights abuses and pushes states away from democracy. Democracy is based out of the strength of the general population which sanctions hurt the most.
    In Iran we're guaranteeing that the autocratic government holds their power which in the end lessens the likelihood of them changing their nuclear policy.
    As for Belarus we're fighting their human rights abuses by pushing them to commit more.
    http://d-runspoliticalopinion......t-use.html

  • BarryD||

    That sounds about right, to me.

    Put up or shut up, is the more sensible policy.

    Sanctions are a great way to signal, "We lack resolve, and therefore don't pose any real threat."

  • Ken Shultz||

    Some of you should really take a look at the this piece from Bloomberg:

    "Amid the usual hyperbolic conspiracy theories, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said something incisive in a televised address last week: that the West is waging economic “war” against Iran.

    He’s right, and the Iranian rial’s death spiral is the first clear sign that we’re on a path to victory. The 40 percent drop by the rial against the dollar since late September is a symptom of larger woes: oil exports are at 1 million barrels a day, down from 2.2 million last year; quarterly oil revenue is down by about $15 billion a quarter; inflation, officially at 25 percent, is probably closer to 70 percent; unemployment is probably three times higher than the official 12 percent; and the country has been hemorrhaging foreign-currency reserves, which were estimated at about $110 billion at the end of 2011."

    ----Bloomberg Editorial, October 7, 2012

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/.....ution.html

    That $110 billion? However long it takes for Iran to blow through that? That's how long they have to build a bomb. If they don't get it built before they blow through that $110 billion, they'll have to capitulate...

    I'm not usually a fan of sanctions, and I'm not saying it's going to work this time. However, I think it's probably the best strategy out of some pretty sorry options.

  • Ken Shultz||

    All the options seem to come in variations of three flavors:

    1) War
    2) Sanctions
    3) Appeasement

    I find appeasement the sorriest of the three options, but I don't want to go to war either. And in the this case, I don't think the sanctions are open ended. I think they're for a specific purpose and for a specific period of time. I'd be all open to offering Iran a free trade agreement! ...just as soon as they abandon their nuclear weapons program.

    I'm not even sure the sanctions will ultimately work...but I think we have to try sanctions first--regardless of whether you prefer appeasement to war.

  • Calidissident||

    False dichotomy

  • Ken Shultz||

    What dichotomy? You got a hundred options--but they all more or less come in three flavors...

    But which part of leaving Iran alone to develop whatever nuclear program they want doesn't amount to appeasement?

  • Calidissident||

    Did we appease North Korea? Is Canada or Mexico appeasing Iran if they let them develop nukes? I object to the term cause it implies that we should be in a state of confrontation with Iran in the first place. Anyone who tries to draw a parallel between Iran and Nazi Germany, with Obama (or whoever refuses to go to war) as Neville Chamberlain is a moron. Germany was one of the wealthiest and most powerful countries in the world. The only modernized, non-allied countries with a higher population were the USSR and the USA. Iran is nowhere near the top in terms of wealth, power, or population, and will not be any time soon. To pretend they are equivalent is moronic. I'm not saying you believe this btw, just that most people who view it as "appeasement" try to make that argument

  • Ken Shultz||

    "I object to the term cause it implies that we should be in a state of confrontation with Iran in the first place."

    You seem to be objecting to the term because it doesn't accurately describe what's going on in the hearts of the appeasers?

    Call it something else if you want!

    People who don't want to resist Iran developing nuclear weapons can call themselves whatever they want--but the end result of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons remains the same...

    There are lots of good arguments against embargoes. I'd think promoting free trade between our countries would probably be in our better security interests, usually, but like everything else, the strategy that's most likely to work is situational.

    Iran's situation, right now, presents some unique opportunities, and I think what we're doing right now is pretty smart. I don't know if it's going to work, but given how rotten the other options are, I think it's smart to try this route first.

    War isn't always the solution, but as horrible as it is, it's sometimes better than appeasement.

  • Ken Shultz||

    War isn't always the solution, but as horrible as it is, it's sometimes better than appeasement.

    ...and sanctions in this situation are better than the other options.

  • Calidissident||

    "War isn't always the solution, but as horrible as it is, it's sometimes better than appeasement.

    ...and sanctions in this situation are better than the other options."

    This isn't one of those sometimes. Sanctions are possibly the worst option. They're ineffective, create resentment towards the US and other foreign countries, giving the government an easy scapegoat, and infringe on the liberty of people. Cuba is a textbook example of the failure of sanctions, with all of these problems resulting. But why am I not surprised you're making a defense of an anti-liberty policy? Making it illegal to do business in a foreign country is a-ok, but bailout GM (which I didn't/don't support btw) and it's enough to make you vote for an opposing candidate that you supposedly despise. But I won't be one bit surprised if/when you defend President Romney's invasion of Iran

  • Calidissident||

    "You seem to be objecting to the term because it doesn't accurately describe what's going on in the hearts of the appeasers?

    Call it something else if you want!"

    I'm just pointing out the loaded meaning the word brings, and the inconsistency of its use. Answer my questions: Did we appease North Korea by not stopping them from getting nuclear weapons? Did we appease Pakistan, or India, or China, or the USSR, by not stopping them from getting nukes? Are Mexico, Canada, Guyana, Chad, Japan, and every other country in the world appeasing Iran by not preventing them from getting nukes? I think the term appeasement has a meaning beyond "not forcing your will on another country or person."

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Did we appease North Korea by not stopping them from getting nuclear weapons?"

    We did what we could to stop North Korea from getting nuclear weapons...

    http://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/dprkchron

    ...including sanctions.

    But the situation in North Korea then was different than the situation in Iran today. Again, I think there are reasons to think sanctions may be more successful with Iran, and I think sanctions--as unlikely as they are to work--may be the best of what bad options are available.

    I think we certainly had less leverage with North Korea than we do with Iran.

  • Calidissident||

    North Korea - Another example of the failure of sanctions. Not to mention, why would we have more leverage with Iran? In the past decade, we've deposed (or help depose) two dictators who gave up their WMD programs. Why on Earth would the mullahs want to give up their nuke program? It obviously doesn't make them safe from the US government. North Korea provides a stark contrast. Is the US government gonna fuck around with North Korea as long as they have nuclear weapons?

  • Ken Shultz||

    "I think the term appeasement has a meaning beyond "not forcing your will on another country or person."

    I think standing by and doing nothing while a self-avowed enemy of the United States procures nuclear weapons is complete dereliction of the government's primary duty--which is to protect our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

    Like I said, you can call standing by and doing nothing while a self-avowed enemy of the United States procures nuclear weapons whatever you want, but there's already a word for that.

    You think it's loaded? It is what it is.

    ap·pease·ment (-pzmnt) n.

    1.
    a. An act of appeasing.
    b. The condition of being appeased.

    2. The policy of granting concessions to potential enemies to maintain peace.

    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/appeasement

  • Calidissident||

    "I think standing by and doing nothing while a self-avowed enemy of the United States procures nuclear weapons is complete dereliction of the government's primary duty--which is to protect our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

    They can self-avow all they want. Doesn't mean they have the capability or the willingness to harm us (Not to mention, the US government's meddling is responsible for the creation of this "enemy"). The only way they can get us is if the government put our troops in harm's way in neighboring countries, as they did (unnecessarily, except for the early phase of the Afghanistan war) in Iraq and Afghanistan. You mention the government has a responsibility to protect liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Not sure how making it illegal to do business in Iran is in pursuit of either one of those goals. The right to protect the citizenry doesn't give the government the right to tell everyone else what they have to do and enforce their views on other countries. Your post reeks of the kind of preemptive war BS we were fed running up to Iraq.

  • BarryD||

    Nuke 'em, then trade with them.

    Worked with the Empire of Japan.

    When have sanctions ever worked? Seriously. When?

    OTOH if we aren't serious, we should fuck off and leave them alone to build nukes or whatever they want. Lots of countries have nukes, including all the former Soviet Batshitistans.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Baroness Ashton sounds like a porno roleplay name.

  • YinxDoo||

    That cat seems to know what he is talking about.
    www.us-Privacy.tk

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