Highlights

 
Quotable
All it takes is a single act of aggression to permanently wound a nation's reputation.
Ramman Kenoun
Original Letters Blog US Casualties Contact Donate

 
April 18, 2006

An Embargo Is Not a Peaceful Alternative


by Rep. Ron Paul

As the drumbeat for military action against Iran grows louder, some members of Congress are calling to expand the long-standing U.S. trade ban that bars American companies from investing in that nation. In fact, many war hawks in Washington are pushing for a comprehensive international embargo against Iran. The international response has been lukewarm, however, because the world needs Iranian oil. But we cannot underestimate the irrational, almost manic desire of some neoconservatives to attack Iran one way or another, even if it means crippling a major source of oil and destabilizing the worldwide economy.

Make no mistake about it: Economic sanctions are acts of aggression. Sanctions increase poverty and misery among the very poorest inhabitants of targeted nations, and they breed tremendous resentment against those imposing them. But they rarely hurt the political and economic elites responsible for angering American leaders in the first place.

In fact, few government policies are as destructive to our economy as the embargo.

While embargoes sound like strong, punitive action, in reality they represent a failed policy that four decades of experience prove doesn't work. Conversely, economic engagement is perhaps the single most effective tool in tearing down dictatorships and spreading the message of liberty.

It is important to note that economic engagement is not the same thing as foreign aid. Foreign aid, which should be abolished immediately, involves the U.S. government spending American tax dollars to prop up other nations.

Embargoes only hurt the innocent of a targeted country. While it may be difficult for the leader of an embargoed nation to get a box of American-grown rice, he will get it one way or another. For the poor peasant in the remote section of his country, however, the food will be unavailable.

It is difficult to understand how denying access to food, medicine, and other products benefits anyone. Embargo advocates claim that denying people access to our products somehow creates opposition to the despised leader. The reality, though, is that hostilities are more firmly directed at America.

Father Robert Sirico, a Paulist priest, wrote in the Wall Street Journal that trade relations "strengthen people's loyalties to each other and weaken government power." To imagine that we somehow can spread the message of liberty to an oppressed nation by denying them access to our people and the bounty of our prosperity is contorted at best.

For more than 30 years, we have embargoed Cuba in an attempt to drive Fidel Castro from power. Yet he remains in power. By contrast, look at the Soviet Union, a nation we allowed our producers to engage economically. Of course, the Soviet Union has collapsed.

Embargoes greatly harm our citizens. As the American agricultural industry continues to develop new technology to reduce costs and increase yields, it becomes more important for farmers and ranchers to find markets outside the United States to sell their goods so they can make ends meet. By preventing our farmers and ranchers from competing in the world market, we deny them very profitable opportunities.

Government meddling is always destructive to the free market; people inevitably will make wiser decisions about how to spend their money, with whom, and when, than politicians in Washington. Embargoes simply do not accomplish the ends advocates claim to desire, and are extremely harmful to the well-being of Americans.


comments on this article?
 
 
Archives

  • Imagine an Occupied America
    3/10/2009

  • The Draft: Just Say No
    2/17/2009

  • Gaza Resolution One-Sided and Unwise
    1/10/2009

  • Obama's Opportunity
    1/6/2009

  • Whose Iraq Predictions Have Come True?
    9/23/2008

  • How Foreign Policy Affects Gas Prices
    8/23/2008

  • Getting Out of Iraq
    7/17/2008

  • Using One Tragedy to
    Create Another
    7/16/2008

  • Congress's 'Virtual Iran War Resolution'
    7/3/2008

  • War, Economy Can't Be Decoupled
    6/19/2008

  • March to War in Lebanon?
    5/22/2008

  • The Economy: Another Casualty of War
    5/20/2008

  • The Emerging Surveillance State
    4/8/2008

  • The Iraq War Ledger
    3/25/2008

  • Living by the Sword
    3/15/2008

  • Intervening Our Way to Economic Ruin
    3/14/2008

  • No to Torture, Yes to the Constitution
    3/13/2008

  • Stop Choosing Sides
    3/7/2008

  • War at Any Cost?
    3/1/2008

  • Protect America from the Protect America Act
    2/1/2008

  • The Ties That Strangle
    1/10/2008

  • Bombed If You Do, Bombed If You Don't
    12/11/2007

  • 'Homegrown Terror' Act an Attack on Internet Freedom?
    12/7/2007

  • Entangling Alliances
    11/15/2007

  • Struggling for Relevance in Cuba: Still No Cigars
    10/30/2007

  • Interventionism? Isolationism? Actually, Both
    10/25/2007

  • Support the American Freedom Agenda Act of 2007
    10/21/2007

  • The Fear Factor
    7/31/2007

  • Don't Delay: US Out of Iraq Now
    7/14/2007

  • Signing Statements Erode Constitutional Balance
    7/12/2007

  • Recapturing the Spirit of Independence
    7/3/2007

  • Have We Forgotten 2003 Already?
    6/21/2007

  • Nonintervention: The Original Foreign Policy
    6/19/2007

  • The Price of Delaying the Inevitable
    6/5/2007

  • On Patriotism
    5/24/2007

  • Congress Must Do Its Duty
    5/22/2007

  • More Bureaucracy,
    Less Security
    5/15/2007

  • We Just Marched In (So We Can Just March Out)
    4/24/2007

  • More Pork for More War
    3/27/2007

  • Defund the War
    3/22/2007

  • The Original American Foreign Policy
    3/16/2007

  • The Scandal at Walter Reed
    3/9/2007

  • With Friends Like These…
    2/27/2007

  • In Congress, Opposing the War but Doing Nothing to Stop It
    2/15/2007

  • Congress Racing to Spend
    $1 Trillion on Iraq
    2/13/2007

  • Support the Troops by Ending the War
    2/1/2007

  • Inflation: The Hidden
    Cost of War
    1/30/2007

  • The Fatal Conceit
    in the Middle East
    1/23/2007

  • The Irrelevance of
    Military Victory
    1/16/2007

  • On the Mideast Escalator
    1/15/2007

  • Saddam Is Dead - So Are 3,000 Americans
    1/6/2007

  • 2007 Promises More of the Same
    12/26/2006

  • America's Original
    Foreign Policy
    12/19/2006

  • Who Makes Foreign Policy?
    12/12/2006

  • Congress to Ponder Conscription?
    11/28/2006

  • The Law of Opposites
    9/9/2006

  • This Will Come Back
    to Haunt Us
    7/21/2006

  • Avoiding War With Iran
    5/23/2006

  • Foreign Policy, Monetary Policy, and Gas Prices
    5/9/2006

  • True Foreign Aid
    5/2/2006

  • Policy Is More Important
    Than Personnel
    4/25/2006

  • An Embargo Is Not a Peaceful Alternative
    4/18/2006

  • Iran: The Next Neocon Target
    4/7/2006

  • Making the World Safe for Christianity
    3/30/2006

  • A Sense of Déjà Vu
    2/20/2006
  • More Archives


    Ron Paul is a Republican Congressman from Texas. He was the 1988 Libertarian Party candidate for President.

    Reproduction of material from any original Antiwar.com pages
    without written permission is strictly prohibited.
    Copyright 2014 Antiwar.com