Washington’s Sanctions Machine

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Written by Philip M. Giraldi; Originally appeared on strategic-culture.org

Perhaps it is Donald Trump’s business background that leads him to believe that if you inflict enough economic pain on someone they will ultimately surrender and agree to do whatever you want. Though that approach might well work in New York real estate, it is not a certain path to success in international relations since countries are not as vulnerable to pressure as are individual investors or developers.

Washington’s latest foray into the world of sanctions, directed against China, is astonishing even when considering the low bar that has been set by previous presidents going back to Bill Clinton. Beijing has already been pushing back over US sanctions imposed last week on its government-run Equipment Development Department of the Chinese Central Military Commission and its director Li Shangfu for “engaging in significant transactions” with a Russian weapons manufacturer that is on a list of US sanctioned companies. The transactions included purchases of Russian Su-35 combat aircraft as well as equipment related to the advanced S-400 surface-to-air missile system. The sanctions include a ban on the director entering the United States and blocks all of his property or bank accounts within the US as well as freezing all local assets of the Equipment Development Department.

Washington’s Sanctions Machine

More important, the sanctions also forbid conducting any transactions that go through the US financial system. It is the most powerful weapon Washington has at its disposal, but it is being challenged as numerous countries are working to find ways around it. Currently however, as most international transactions are conducted in dollars and pass through American banks that means that it will be impossible for the Chinese government to make weapons purchases from many foreign sources. If foreign banks attempt to collaborate with China to evade the restrictions, they too will be sanctioned.

So in summary, Beijing bought weapons from Moscow and is being sanctioned by the United States for doing so because Washington does not approve of the Russian government. The sanctions on China are referred to as secondary sanctions in that they are derivative from the primary sanction on the foreign company or individual that is actually being punished. Secondary sanctions can be extended ad infinitum as transgressors linked sequentially to the initial transaction multiply the number of potential targets.

Not surprisingly, the US Ambassador has been summoned and Beijing has canceled several bilateral meetings with American defense department officials. The Chinese government has expressed “outrage” and has demanded the US cancel the measure.

According to media reports, the Chinese Department purchased the weapons from Rosoboronexport, Russia’s principal arms exporter. This violated a 2017 law passed by Congress named, characteristically, the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, which sought to punish the Russian government and its various agencies for interfering in in the 2016 US election as well as its alleged involvement in Ukraine, Syria and its development of cyberwar capabilities. Iran and North Korea were also targeted in the legislation.

Explaining the new sanctions, US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert issued a statement elaborating that the initial sanctions on Russia were enacted “to further impose costs on the Russian government in response to its malign activities.” She added that the US will “urge all countries to curtail relationships with Russia’s defense and intelligence sectors, both of which are linked to malign activities worldwide.”

As engaging in “malign activities” is a charge that should quite plausibly be leveled against Washington and its allies in the Middle East, it is not clear if anyone but the French and British poodles actually believes the rationalizations coming out of Washington to defend the indefensible. An act to “Counter America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions” is, even as the title implies, ridiculous. Washington is on a sanctions spree. Russia has been sanctioned repeatedly since the passage of the fraudulent Magnitsky Act, with no regard for Moscow’s legitimate protests that interfering in other countries’ internal politics is unacceptable. China is currently arguing reasonably enough that arms sales between countries is perfect legal and in line with international law.

Iran has been sanctioned even through it complied with an international agreement on its nuclear program and new sanctions were even piled on top of the old sanctions. And in about five weeks the US will be sanctioning ANYONE who buys oil from Iran, reportedly with no exceptions allowed. Venezuela is under US sanctions to punish its government, NATO member Turkey because it bought weapons from Russia and the Western Hemisphere perennial bad boy Cuba has had various embargoes in place since 1960.

It should be noted that sanctions earn a lot of ill-will and generally accomplish nothing. Cuba would likely be a fairly normal country but for the US restrictions and other pressure that gave its government the excuse to maintain a firm grip on power. The same might even apply to North Korea. And sanctions are even bad for the United States. Someday, when the US begins to lose its grip on the world economy all of those places being sanctioned will line up to get their revenge and it won’t be pretty.

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  • John Whitehot

    why not a single charachter published on the North/South Korea reapproachment?

    It’s an epochal geopolitical event that goes straight down the throat of the US.

    • Sinbad2

      The US will not allow rapprochement between the 2 Korea’s.
      The US split Korea, and took the south as a colony The US never voluntarily gives up a colony, ask any Cuban.
      Last election 60% of South Koreans voted for politicians whose policies included improving relations with North Korea. But the US doesn’t care what Americans want and certainly won’t take any notice of Koreans.
      I hope Moon can pull it off, but America usually gets what it wants.

      • John Whitehot

        “The US will not allow rapprochement between the 2 Korea’s.”

        except the US is not a party in it and one can be sure that the Koreas are now paying particular attention to any possible false flags.

        It’s particularly joyous how the South Koreans are now giving the finger to the US and preparing to embrace their own kind up north.

        ” The US never voluntarily gives up a colony,ask any Cuban.”

        Nobody expects the US not to put up some opposition, any Vietnamese.

        “but America usually gets what it wants.”

        The latest trend is opposite. They are losing in Afghanistan and Syria, and are incredibly frustrated at the situation in Yemen.

        The MIC will have to choose either to keep getting money for them or start sustaining wars which are going to cost unprecedented resources both human and material. And the population is so fed up with wars that it automatically votes for politicians promising disengaging from everywhere.

  • Hide Behind

    Be calm, no need to get excited, some day in the future the lackey nations will join together, and Utopia will arize and slay a weakened US.
    Until that future time arizes go along and do whatever you are told to do.
    Pay no mind that your national leaders of political, militaries,financial, affairs and their milti layers of bureaucrats will be enriching. themselves as the nations resources are depleted and 60% of populace are impoverished.
    What form of religions await for a future Messiah to come and set up a new economic system?
    It seems that 60% of us are all under the impression that our future holds unlimited wealth where everyone will gain a share and live happidly for ever after, but from what strata of society are they within who are telling us this?
    Predominately it is they who have gained their position in life as part of the vast bureaucratic asministrations that are paid through those who profit the most from the system they control
    What kind of future world will the New Messiah (s) deliver into the hands of revenging impoverished peoples; what will be left of a once rich world for whomever becomes its new administrators to dole out.
    Who cleans up the messy effects of a self induced death by shotgun blast, the bones, brains and blood, or urine and fecal stains of a hanging by those who through impoverisment by no fault of own, had lost all hope while awaiting the Messiah.
    A world where destruction due to climate changes cause chaos for the governed 60%, in US today tens of millions are living where just since end of 2017 till last September they have recieved over 20 millions of gamma rads, doses that no living thing will not suffer its genetic destruction and life ending consequences.
    Once it was of a “Spiritual” realm but today we see a vast uprising of those of most base and degenerate among populations that are emotionaly irrational and without ability to think criticly for themselves.

  • Barba_Papa

    >>Someday, when the US begins to lose its grip on the world economy all of
    those places being sanctioned will line up to get their revenge and it
    won’t be pretty.<<

    When empires fall the end result is never pretty. When Rome got overrun the Western Empire disintegrated into illiterate barbarian kingdoms, of which we know so little it truly was the Dark Ages. When Athens fell democracy was abolished by the victors and a brutal oligarchy was imposed on the city. The fall of every Chinese dynasty often ushered in an age of barbarian invasions and civil wars. And in recent time we only have to ask the Russians, and the other successor states how the fall of the USSR worked out for them. Only the British seemed to have come out relatively unscathed from the collapse of their great empire. But of course exceptions don't make the rules. We all know someone who lived to be a hundred and who still smokes a pack a day. Doesn't mean its a smart hobby to pick up.

    You play the empire game, you better take into account that inevitably the boomerang will come back to you. Once your empire inevitably collapses there will be hell to pay.

    • Sinbad2

      The British survived, because they saw what was coming, and voluntarily gave up their empire.
      Because of that they survived at a reduced level.
      The Americans seem to be going down Carthage route, fight to the end, and total destruction.

    • Brother Ma

      Well reasoned and said.

  • JPH

    Don’t call it sanctions implying somehow a punishment deserved.

    It simply is economic warfare in the league of ‘Crime of Aggression’ because it is also accompanied by all sorts of illegal covert operations.

  • RichardD

    Sanctions are a tax on the American people when they effect goods and services. Walmart is extensively supplied by China.

  • Trump seems to have helped create a whole new branch of the American government.

    The Department of Sanctions whose entire job is suggesting sanctions, managing sanctions, and supervising the violations of sanctions. Many thousands must be busily at work.

    Absolutely ridiculous.

    But of course he is not alone in this stupid effort.

    The Washington establishment would be supporting the effort even without Trump.

    He’s just a loud and unpleasant spokesman.

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