False history leads to bad decisions
How Much War Does Washington Want?
Andrew Cockburn, Axis of Logic
Wednesday, Mar 26, 2014 |In 1919, after allied sanctions on food shipments had starved the Kaiser’s Germany into submission, President Wilson endorsed the continued use of sanctions to settle international disputes as an “economic, peaceful, silent, deadly remedy.” Almost a century later, the weapon is more popular than ever, mostly because of a wholly mistaken belief that it makes the targets do what we want. Currently, the United States is enforcing no fewer than 24 separate sanctions regimes directed at targets ranging from the Balkans to Zimbabwe. Now, of course, with Vladimir Putin proving fractious, Washington has opened another financial offensive, this time against Russia.
Whereas once the U.S. embargoed entire countries, such as Cuba, it now has techniques for targeting individuals — economic Hellfire missiles. The initial salvo in the Ukraine situation — visa bans and asset freezes on some individuals deemed “cronies” of the Russian leader — appear modest in their effect. There is heavier armament, developed in recent years in the Treasury’s R&D shops, waiting in reserve.
Andrew Cockburn is the Washington editor of Harper’s magazine.