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Starvation Sanctions Are Worse Than Overt Warfare

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Written by Caitlin Johnstone; Originally appeared at her blog

“We are putting major additional Sanctions on Iran on Monday,” President Trump tweeted today. “I look forward to the day that Sanctions come off Iran, and they become a productive and prosperous nation again — The sooner the better!”

Starvation Sanctions Are Worse Than Overt Warfare

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Iran’s economy is already floundering due to the steadily mounting sanctionsthat the Trump administration has been heaping upon it since its withdrawal from the JCPOA last year. Crucial goods are four times the price they used to be, sick Iranians are having difficulty obtaining life-saving medicine, and life in general has been getting much more difficult for the poorest and frailest Iranian civilians.

For this reason, it is a very safe bet that there have been Iranians who have died because of the sanctions. Being unable to obtain enough life-saving medicine will inevitably increase mortality rates, as will inadequate nutrition and care for those whose health is at risk. There’s not really any way around that, and it’s only going to get worse.

And that’s exactly what was supposed to happen. As far as their intended purpose is concerned, the sanctions are working. They’re doing exactly what they were intended to do: hurt Iranian civilians.

How do I know this? Well for one thing America’s Secretary of State has said it openly. The New York Times reports the following:

Last week, Mr. Pompeo acknowledged to Michael J. Morrell, a former acting director of the C.I.A., that the administration’s strategy would not persuade Iranian leaders to change their behavior.

“I think what can change is the people can change the government,” he said on a podcast hosted by Mr. Morrell, in what appeared to be an endorsement of regime change.

The Trump administration isn’t leveling these sanctions because it believes they’ll cause Tehran to capitulate to Washington’s impossible list of demands; they know full well that that will never happen. What they claim, based on no evidence or historical precedent whatsoever, is that by making life so painful for the hungry and malnourished Iranian people they’ll be forced to rise up against their government to effect regime change themselves.

Can you think of anything more sociopathic than this? Off the top of my head, I personally cannot.

Starvation sanctions kill people. Tens of thousands of Venezuelans have reportedly already died as a result of this administration’s relentless assault on their economy; those human beings are no less dead than they would have been if the US had killed them by dropping cluster bombs on Caracas. Yet these deaths have received virtually no mainstream media coverage, and Americans, while they strongly oppose attacking Iran militarily, have had very little to say about Trump’s attacks on the nation’s economy. The economy which people use to feed their children, to care for their elderly and their sick.

I’m titling this essay “Starvation Sanctions Are Worse Than Overt Warfare”, and I mean it. I am not saying that starvation sanctions are more destructive or deadly than overt military force in and of themselves; what I am saying is that the overall effect is worse, because there’s no public accountability for them and because they deliberately target civilians.

If the US were to launch a barrage of Tomahawk missiles into an Iranian suburb with the goal of killing civilians, there’d be international outrage and the cohesion of the US-centralized power alliance would take a major hit. Virtually everyone would recognize this as an unforgivable war crime. Yet America will be able to kill the same number of civilians with the same deliberate intention of inflicting deadly force, and it would suffer essentially no consequences at all. There’s no public or international pressure holding that form of violence at bay, because it’s invisible and poorly understood.

It reminds me of the way financial abuse gets overlooked and under-appreciated in our society. Financial abuse can be more painful and imprisoning than physical or psychological abuse (and I speak from experience), especially if you have children, yet you don’t generally see movies and TV shows getting made about it. In a society where people have been made to depend on money for survival, limiting or cutting off their access to it is the same as any other violent attack upon their personal sovereignty, and can easily be just as destructive. But as a society we haven’t yet learned to see and understand this violence, so it doesn’t attract interest and attention. That lack of interest and attention enables the empire to launch deadly campaigns targeting civilian populations unnoticed, without any public accountability.

It’s great that more people are starting to understand the cost of war, to the extent that we’re even seeing US presidential candidates make opposing it central to their platforms, but this is happening at a time when overt warfare is becoming more obsolete and replaced with something subtler and more sinister. We must as a society evolve our understanding of what starvation sanctions are and what they do, and stop seeing them as in any way superior or preferable to overt warfare.

The fact that people generally oppose senseless military violence but are unable to see and comprehend a slow, boa constrictor-like act of slaughter via economic strangulation is why these siege warfare tactics have become the weapon of choice for the US-centralized empire. It is a more gradual way of murdering people than overt warfare, but when you control all the resources and have an underlying power structure which maintains itself amid the comings and goings of your officially elected government, you’re in no hurry. The absence of any public accountability makes the need for patience a very worthwhile trade-off.

So you see this siege warfare strategy employed everywhere by the US-centralized empire:

The US-centralized power alliance is so powerful in its ability to hurt nations with financial influence that in 1990 when Yemen voted against a UN Security Council Resolution authorizing the attack against Iran, a senior US diplomat was caught on a hot mic telling the Yemeni ambassador, “That will be the most expensive ‘no’ vote you ever cast.” According to German author Thomas Pogge, “The US stopped $70 million in aid to Yemen; other Western countries, the IMF, and World Bank followed suit. Saudi Arabia expelled some 800,000 Yemeni workers, many of whom had lived there for years and were sending urgently needed money to their families.”

That’s real power. Not the ability to destroy a nation with bombs and missiles, but the ability to destroy it without firing a shot.

It’s no wonder, then, that the drivers of this empire work so hard to continue growing and expanding it. The oligarchs and their allies in opaque government agencies no doubt envision a world where all noncompliant nations like Iran, Russia and China have been absorbed into the blob of empire and war becomes obsolete, not because anyone has become any less violent, but because their economic control will be so complete that they can obliterate entire populations just by cutting them off from the world economy whenever any of them become disobedient.

This is the only reason Iran is being targeted right now. That’s why you’ll never hear a factually and logically sound argument defending Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal; there is none. There was no problem with the JCPOA other than the fact that it barred America from inflicting economic warfare upon Iran, which it needed for the purpose of toppling the nation’s government so that it can be absorbed into the blob of the US-centralized empire.

And all the innocent human beings who die of starvation and disease? They don’t matter. Imperial violence only matters if there are consequences for it. The price of shoring up the total hegemony of the empire will have been worth it.

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This is the evil Mossad Bolton fuel shortage starvation Iran plan for Europe and possibly China to bring them under Jew world order submission. http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_MkbiuJCuROI/TPKHzO7onEI/AAAAAAAABr4/ciVgksfQiGI/s1600/7378.jpg

Brother Ma

I would bet these are starving Christian Children during the Turkish Genocides of their communities .


They’re Ukrainian.

Brother Ma

Thanks but there is no actual evidence in the photo that it is from the Ukraine. I have seen many just like this of kids with just such features from the Turco massacres of Christians. Yet ,ifyou say it is Ukrainian i am happy to believe you .



– Holodomor (Ukraine) –


Brother Ma

Thanks Richard.


Manufacturing endless tragedies is what Jews do. Which is why they need to be extinct.


The West is slowly succumbing to paralysis thanks to unassailable taboos and dogmas. One of those is that you should be able to do literally anything you want with your financial power–for those who have it of course. The Iran saga is a useful snapshot of how, at the hour of truth, the world hasn’t really done anything useful yet to come together and rein in Uncle Sam. The sum total of various Russian/Iranian/Chinese/Venezuelan/Brazilian dysfunctions is still mostly dysfunction–who could’ve thought.


Destroying the USA without the US destroying the whole planet and killing everyone is a complex and tricky task. It will take time, but we are starting to see their end, it won’t be long, I hope to live to see them begging for mercy.


This is the problem that needs to be eliminated: https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c7459a9e0e8501bb21032006c7ee9ad6e9becea1249fe5b92430bb822a6c5549.png

– Jewish population by country –



One Israeli terrorist is heavier on 10,000 innocent civilians.


It’s their church that is the problem. In early white Australia Jews were totally integrated into the Australian community, very few Jews ever went to the synagogue. That enraged Zion central in London, who dispatched teams of Zionists to turn ordinary people into what we know as Jews. It’s a cult, all synagogues should be closed and all Rabbis deported to Easter island. Without the brainwashing the children of these heretics could become normal people.


The ideology is rotten and has been from the beginning. It needs to be done away with. The Palestinians have been trying to get rid of them for thousands of years. They’re a curse that needs to end. The drop out rate is high. Which tells you a lot about what former Jews think of it.

Tommy Jensen

We have owned Israel in 3000 years. If you haven’t invaded us and stole our silver treasure from the Temple II and banned us from Jerusalem you may be alive today. Its all your own fault what happen.


Your comment makes no sense. You’re a babbling idiot.


Iran is already a member of sanction bloc where there are great countries united for example Russia, China, Pakistan, India etc.


The one thing the psychopathic retards and their st(th)ink tanks fail to understand is that while they may get their sick satisfaction by murdering thousands of people with their sanctions in Venezuela and possibly Iran, the only things they’ll manage to be successful at are: proving to the world their lack of morality of any sort, the enjoyment they get while displaying their guilt in the commission of war crimes, uniting the people in the countries they seek to destroy, proving once and for all that no military attack or coup will ever be successful and also proving that the day of reckoning is getting closer when they will be forced to answer for their crimes against humanity.


I agree with you however the world has been aware that the USA is a nation of greedy, self centered naval gazers acting like spoiled rich kids for some time now and does nothing about it.

When we look back at this era as history it’s Madison Avenue and the art of persuasion that we will look at as the USA’s primary tool of control. It’s not just US citizens that have been shaped by Madison Ave but the entire world that has been exposed to American advertising, media and culture. They know that as long as people have full bellies and toys to keep them busy they can do anything they want and no one will risk overturning the apple cart. They’ll criticize, gnash and wail but when push comes to shove they’ll prefer to let others do the protesting and watch it on TV rather than take action themselves.

Americans have been programmed to believe they are the exceptional nation and believe it even when they claim they don’t. This seems like a paradox but it isn’t. How else do you explain liberals believing that the rumor of Russia influencing their election is a crime worthy of crippling sanctions while at the same time criticize their own government of formenting coups all over the world. It’s insane but that’s the power of Madison avenue.


“..as long as people have full bellies and toys..”

True of humans in general not just Americans. Take any of these things that people have gotten used to away, and you end up with a rebellion.

“Americans have been programmed..”

There you go. You’ve solved the riddle of why you witness the behavior that you see and it’s not a paradox. Americans have been programmed 24/7 from cradle to the grave by the most sophisticated environment ever created for the purpose. When you consider that Americans are a combination of peoples from all over the world, you understand that the results you see are exactly that of programming. As for the ones you see criticizing their government, that is exactly because somewhere along the line, a seed was planted which reflected reality and a break from the programming. This is why today there’s such a push in the US, and indeed in the vassal states, to censor and deny peoples the ability to view facts i.e. reality. So you see, it’s not about Americans, it’s about mind control and controlling people’s realities, whether they’re now called Americans or what have you.

Tommy Jensen

Bla bla bla crybaby Johnstone and so what Caitlin???

China is pessing in their pants and don’t vote in UNSC. Russia is dragging everything out on the excuse “the caravan goes on”. Turkey and India don’t dare to bypass US, and Rouhanis children are all educated on US universities.

So when everybody are occupied defending their own business, Iran could stay forward and do the trick???

The waiting time for someone to do something and the endless crybaby articles informing the sheeple about status quo, is the most starving of them all.


You’re an idiot and a miscreant.

Luke Hemmming

Someone give this man a loaded gun in the hope that he does the world a favor and shoots himself in the head. Tommy, you Sir, are an idiot. Your comment makes no sense and has nothing to do with the article and sanctions. How is China and Russia involved in the sanctions on Iran that the USA imposed with the pushing from Israel. What’s the connection with China and Russia with this? F*ucking talking sh*t again Tommy.

Tommy Jensen

Russia and China are involved in the way they don’t present any visible nor decisive resistance to US brutality for 20 years. The only visible resistance I see is coming from Iran. I bet those oil tankers were sabotaged by Iran, a brilliant reverse of US tactics: Sabotage the oil and let everybody think it was US false flags. But Iran cant pull the train alone.


Look moron, the Russians have rolled back the Yinon plan offensive in Syria. And hopefully will win the war and participate in standing up a regional coalition armed with advanced nuclear weapons that outnumbers and out guns the IDF 10 to 1 that NATO is going to decide not to go up against.

Tommy Jensen

Russia helped US and Israel to separate Syria after the Yinon plan along Euphrat river……oxy morom


Russia pushed back the Yinon plan terrorists from 90% of Syrian land to 40%, soon to be 30%. And they’re unlikely to stop there and will take care of the Zionist Kurds once Idlib is cleared.


Russian, really?!


Iran and Hezbollah were part of the pull back to the 10% of Syrian land and 0% of Syrian airspace still under government control when Russia intervened in 2015 and reversed that.

Free man

Funny that you talk about morons. A trilateral meeting of National Security Adviser to US President John Bolton, Secretary of the Russian Security Council Nikolai Patrushev and Head of the National Security Council of Israel Meir Ben-Shabbat takes place in Jerusalem today. Do you think they will discuss the throwing of the Iranian forces from Syria or the Yinon plan? LOL.


They’l probably discuss throwing the uninvited illegally present US forces out.


If the US thinks it is humane to starve nations then it can’t be inhumane if the victims start contaminating US food sources.


Trump is cheating the world. The US, NATO and Israeli war crimes are not secrete. Pompeo has already admitted recently that CIA lies, cheats and steals. Be safe from US, NATO and Israel..






Luke Hemmming

How the f*ck can Iran become a productive and prosperous nation when you sanction the hell out of them, israel wanting to burn it to the ground and with the US in the middle east stirring shit up on every and anyone opposed to the zionists banking cartels world domination agenda? Fucking USA fucking up the world again with Israel pushing them.

Jean de Peyrelongue

The US management in the hands of Israel is behaving worse than everything we have been told concerning the nazis. The US people should stand-up and get rid of those racists running their country, their finance, and their disgusting media. They are anti-christians and adocating the New world order religion wich is a total perversion.

Xoli Xoli

Their hate all the other religions no wonder their killed Jesus the God.I dont follow their thor perversion religion.Their hate humanity and truth.

Xoli Xoli

No wonder God is going to make new Jerusalem. I believe in Jesus the God the God of Misag,Abednego and Sadrag.

Brother Thomas

Fifty percent of the problem is the US behaving as it does. The other 50% are all the countries and their corporations who go along with this reprehensible behaviour because of their own self interest. If enough countries refused to comply with these illegal unilateral sanctions, they would not exist and the US would not be able to retaliate against any of the sanction/defying countries.

Xoli Xoli

Supporters of sanctions are China and Russia then eventually thinks have turn for worst against them.

Xoli Xoli

Emergen if China and Russia lift the sanctions which their have supporter against ,North Korea, iran,Syria, Palestine then the will be balance in global economy.Immediately the sanction will back fire on imposes.I said this long time ago sanction are = to starvation.


The US have been telling us for weeks that their new tactic of maximum pressure, would bring Iran to its knees. Then this morning, they announce more sanctions!

So it wasn’t maximum pressure last week?

They don’t have a clue these people.



Yes, that is a true observation.

The United States now lays sanctions in truckload volumes.

The effort is characterized by subterfuge.

The word “sanctions” sounds so much less brutal than “war.”

But used as America is using them, they are completely a form of war, hurting huge populations.

Think of the past and the practice of “starving out” the populations of invested cities.

What Germany did at Leningrad in WWII, killing roughly a million people over a period.

Now, instead of one technique applied sometimes at specific sites during a war, the United States has developed and generalized the inhumane concept into a new form of war.

And, always keep in mind, sanctions in general hurt and kill almost only civilians, the most ordinary people.

Just the way America’s other favorite pastime, bombing, does.

But without all the noise and distress of explosions.

You’d almost think a bunch of old captured Nazi figures, Wernher von Braun types, worked the idea out and offered it to their captors as a gift.

Xoli Xoli

The Jews are greedy it is the evil satanic thor worshipping Jews which are planning all the nations destruction for self enrichment.

Xoli Xoli

Trump Pompeo and Bolton are disgrace to the world and humanity. Killers administration.

Brother Ma

Making impossible demands? Gee ,where did we hear of this before?

Could it have been Austro-Hungarian Empire against little Servia in 1914? Behind every Moslem troublespot in Europe or concerning Christians you will find the malign influence of the Deutsche Elite.

See 1908 Servia ,1914-1920 ‘s Ottoman Near East ,Hitler’s entreaties to Moslem troops ,Yugoslavian 1990’s and the recent Merkelistan letting in hordes of invaders. Everything Germany touches turns to shyytt..

Germany should gave been laid waste and left fallow for what it did to fellow Christians while it serenaded Headchopper Moslems.

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