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Trump’s Collective Punishment of the Iranian People

Trump speaks at Washington rally against the Iran deal back in September 2015. Credit: Olivier Douliery/Sipa USA/Newscom

In addition to his awful remarks on Yemen, Mike Pompeo made some not-so-veiled threats against the Iranian people in his recent interview with BBC Persian:

Well, remember, just so you remember, the leadership has to make a decision that they want their people to eat [bold mine-DL]. They have to make a decision that they want to use their wealth to import medicine, and not use their wealth to fund Qasem Soleimani’s travels around the Middle East with – causing death and destruction. That’s the Iranian Government’s choice on how to use Iranian wealth. If they choose to squander, if the Iranian leadership chooses to spoil it, if they choose to use it in a way that doesn’t benefit the Iranian people, I’m very confident the Iranian people will take a response that tries to fix that themselves as well.

One moment, administration officials will feign friendship and goodwill for the people and claim that they want Iranians to be “successful,” and the next they will threaten them with starvation and deprivation while blaming it on the targeted government. The latter is the language of extortionists and hostage-takers. Pompeo might as well be saying, “Why are you making us starve your people and deprive them of medicine?” It’s repellent, and confirms that the administration’s policy is one intended to punish the entire population.

Virginia Pietromarchi reports on the destructive effects that the sanctions are already having:

Humanitarian goods such as food, medicines and medical devices are in theory exempted from US sanctions. However, in practice, US restrictions on financial transactions between Iran and foreign banks are so tight that it is virtually impossible to implement the exception on humanitarian trade. In other words, even when Iran can find foreign pharmaceutical companies willing to sell necessary drugs, it generally can’t pay for them. This situation is a direct result of the US government’s issuing of harsh fines for violations of its secondary sanctions.

Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/11/iran-sanctions-medicine-jcpoa-trump-nuclear-deal-patients.html#ixzz5WTutrhV7

Many observers noticed the threat against the Iranian people in Pompeo’s remarks:

When a foreign power strangles a country’s economy and makes it extremely difficult or impossible for many of the people to be able to afford food and medicine, it is the foreign power that is responsible for the deprivation and hardship that follows. Pompeo thinks that “the Iranian people will take a response that tries to fix that,” by which he means some sort of uprising against the government, but all that this policy is going to do is cause misery among the most vulnerable people in Iran while entrenching the regime further. The Trump administration would very much like to shift the blame for the suffering created by their sanctions policy, but no one is going to buy their self-serving claims and the policy is going to backfire on them.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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