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Nike Won't Provide Shoes to Iran's Soccer Team Thanks to Trump's Sanctions

Sadly, the consequences of sanctions are not limited to the football pitch.

Bobylev Sergei/ZUMA Press/NewscomBobylev Sergei/ZUMA Press/NewscomIran got the boot from Nike, with the sports equipment giant announcing Friday that it will no longer provide soccer cleats to the Islamic theocracy's national soccer team for the upcoming World Cup.

The Washington Post reports that Nike will drop its sponsorship deal with Iran in order to comply with American sanctions.

Those sanctions have existed for decades, but Nike's announcement follows the Treasury Department's stern warning to allies that they will "face substantial risks" if they are found engaging in business with Iran. Last month, as President Donald Trump announced he was ditching the Iran nuclear deal, the Treasury Department said it would resume imposing the U.S. nuclear-related sanctions that were lifted as part of the Obama-era agreement.

In a speech last week, Treasury Under Secretary Sigal Mandelker indicated that steps to prevent Western resources from being "exploited" by Iranians must also be taken by private companies, which could explain Nike's sudden change of heart, especially since the threat of sanctions did little to deter Nike from clothing Iran's team in the past.

"Those risks are even greater as we reimpose nuclear-related sanctions," Mandelker said. "We will hold those doing prohibited business in Iran to account."

Knowingly violating these sanctions could result in a penalty of up to $1 million and 20 years behind bars, so Nike taking leave of the Iranian team is unsurprising.

The company's withdrawal is a reminder that there's more at stake than just Iran's nuclear program. Sanctions also prevent Iranians from peaceably engaging with Americans through commerce. In a country rife with poverty and in desperate need of foreign investment, U.S. sanctions will only give the authoritarian regime material for anti-Western propaganda and breed further hatred towards liberal ideas. The U.S. should allow for the free flow of capital into Iran to stop the needless punishment of civilians in what is clearly a conflict between governments.

If a modern, democratic Iran is the goal, we should take a lesson from the Cold War and recognize that culture ultimately prevails, not punitive economic measures. Just as Reason's Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch noted in a piece for The Washington Post, "For all the talk of boycotts and bombs, if the United States is interested in spreading American values and institutions, a little TV-land may go a lot further than armored personnel carriers." Instead of penalizing people who have nothing to do with their government, we should encourage them to be a part of the global cultural revolution that technology and free trade has enabled, whether it's watching reruns of Seinfeld or participating in the World Cup.

Photo Credit: Bobylev Sergei/ZUMA Press/Newscom

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  • I can't even||

    Oh No!!!

    Anything but this!!

  • Sevo||

    Man! Those straws are getting mighty slim....
    Is this the strongest argument against the sanctions, or is it sarc?

  • Libertymike||

    Support for the sanctions is consistent with free minds and free markets how?

    Support for the sanctions is consistent with the NAP how?

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    It's consistent with trying to break a regime which left unchecked may end up bringing about WW3.

  • lap83||

    I can't believe I'm saying this...but I kind of miss Richman's special blend of anti-Semitic Iranian apologetics. As retarded as it was, at least he sort of acknowledged the central issue...which is our accusation of them being terror-sponsoring central. Now the writers just fully bury their head in the sand and pretend we are just being mean to Iran for no reason. Come the fuck on.

  • lap83||

    Seriously...
    Richman: "Iran needs money for weapons and defending itself against the evil Zionist aggressors"

    Reason now: "OMG their poor soccer players need shoes. LET IRAN BUY SHOES."

    When your writing makes Sheldon Richmans look like an astute foreign policy writer in comparison, something is seriously wrong

  • BYODB||

    A good point, none of this is happening in a vacuum. Maybe the author thinks if we give them shoes for soccer they'll stop bombing each other and the west? Seems...improbable. This type of thinker blames the west for the actions of places like Iran though. They tend to believe that if we only stopped bombing them, they would stop bombing us. This seems...improbable.

  • Agammamon||

    No, this is just another argument against sanctions.

    The primary argument is that they do not work. We've had more effect changing the internal structure of the Soviet Union and China - through trade and cultural exchange - than we've had on Iran or Cuba.

    And in the process, we've hurt a lot of Americans.

  • BYODB||

    The Soviet Union's collapse didn't have anything to do with American trade...if it did, you'd be saying that sanctions work which is awkward.

  • Agammamon||

    We traded with the Soviets. The view the Soviets got of American society and the wealth we had were part of how it fell.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Not really.

  • JoeBlow123||

    America was not only super far away from the Soviet Union, but we also did not like them and they did not like us. Thus we traded virtually nothing with them. Western Europeans bought gas from them (which Reagan seriously did not like, he hectored Europeans about letting the Soviets build gas pipelines to Western Europe), but they were not exactly deep trading partners.

    And that is a first, our trade has forced China to reform? Oh really. Deng Xiaoping "opened" up their country willingly and made sure to maintain the CCP at the helm of the economy by strictly maintaining business subservience to the Party. Our "trade" did not stop them from slaughtering thousands protesting peacefully in 1989 or from their various other human rights violations. Nor has it cased them to pause their belligerent military activities. Nor has it caused them to refrain from instituting an increasingly Brave New World/Minority Report-like police state.

    BA-LO-NEY

  • Libertymike||

    Don't you love Nike's valor?

  • Just Say'n||

    "Just as Reason's Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch noted in a piece for The Washington Post, "For all the talk of boycotts and bombs, if the United States is interested in spreading American values and institutions, a little TV-land may go a lot further than armored personnel carriers."

    How come this reasoning doesn't apply with Russia? If I remember correctly, this publication had a long article arguing for more sanctions against Russia based upon a conspiracy theory. The article was even on the front page.

  • Libertymike||

    It should apply with Russia as well as everybody else.

  • Just Say'n||

    So, just sanction whoever the neocons say the new baddie is?

  • Libertymike||

    No, the opposite.

  • Derp-o-Matic 6000||

    Sanction everyone except who the neocons say the new baddie is!

  • Rhywun||

    You get a sanction! And you get a sanction! ...

  • Emotional Opposition Animal||

    If a modern, democratic Iran is the goal, we should take a lesson from the Cold War and recognize that culture ultimately prevails, not punitive economic measures.

    WTF? The Cold War ended because the Soviet economy collapsed, not because of "culture".

    The Islamic Republic of Iran has been exposed to western culture for what, 30 years, before the sanctions? How well did that work at bringing about democracy? We're talking about a period that was almost as long as the Cold War itself!

    Not to mention, authoritarian regimes are far more savvy about counteracting western culture than they once were. It's amazing how good you can get at something when your continued existence depends on it.

  • Agammamon||

    The Islamic Republic of Iran has been exposed to western culture for what, 30 years, before the sanctions? How well did that work at bringing about democracy?

    Pretty well, actually. Until the Brits and the US decided they weren't 'democratic enough' and screwed the pooch to maintain Western control over their oil industry.

  • BYODB||

    You mean before or after the theocrats took control? Because afterwards, they weren't democratic at all.

  • Rev. Arthur Ꮮ. Kirkland||

    Yeah, when Mohammad Mosaddegh rammed through a blatantly rigged referendum dissolving the parliament and giving himself the power to rule by decree, that was a real high point for Iranian democracy. How could the US and UK possibly imagine rule by an unelected dictator wasn't 'democratic enough'? After all, he was a good socialist, and socialism is the true essence of democracy. You don't need to vote yourself your neighbor's property if the government already owns everything.

  • Agammamon||

    Yeah, imagine if the US and the UK hadn't meddled in the internal politics of Iran - even to the point of trying to depose Mosaddegh - leading him to become that dictator that you're now using to justify even more 'intervention'.

  • JoeBlow123||

    Mossadegh, the great hobby horse of Western self-flagellants.

    "Bless me Father, for I have sinned. We were mean to Iran generations ago. Please forgive me."

    Gimme a break. Stop propagating the propaganda of theocratic totalitarians and self hating Westerners.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    Better title for this article:

    Sanctions gonna sanction.

  • BYODB||


    If a modern, democratic Iran is the goal, we should take a lesson from the Cold War and recognize that culture ultimately prevails, not punitive economic measures.


    I don't think that's really the lesson of the Cold War...

  • JeremyR||

    The thing with the Cold War is that the schism was largely economic - which is better capitalism or communism?

    In this case, the schism is largely religious - those that think Islam should subjugate everyone on the planet and wipe out the Jews and those who do not. Or more narrows, that Iran and it's version of Islam should dominate the Middle East and kill all the Jews.

  • JoeBlow123||

    "Ohh yeah Farhad, lets go to Ali's house and watch that hilarious American Jew show Seinfeld. The antics he gets into are so entertaining!"

    - Words never spoken in Iran.

  • carrstone||

    The sanctions ploy precedes Trump's ascendancy by decades. That would preclude Trump as 'owner' of them as suggested in the title.

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