Comment new us sanctions: showing strength without a concept

The threats posed by Iran, North Korea or Russia will not diminish with the new sanctions. There is a lack of strategy.

Pipeline deals with Russia could fall under the US sanctions Photo: dpa

The new sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday will recognizably achieve none of what they are supposed to. They will, however, if they meet with the expected approval of the Senate and U.S. President Donald Trump, possibly lead to severe dislocations – up to and including a trade war between the United States and Europe. However, the actual or suspected threats from Iran, North Korea or Russia will not diminish as a result.

The way in which the debate on this issue has been conducted in the U.S. indicates that not a single politician involved believes that these sanctions are an effective instrument for achieving the declared goals. Rather, it seems to be a melange of domestic political motives of various kinds and mindless show of strength to the outside world.

The sanctions against Russia, if implemented consistently, will do massive damage to the U.S.’s European allies. The sanctions against Iran put the nuclear agreement at risk. During the election campaign, Donald Trump – like Israel’s head of government Benjamin Netanyahu, of course – said that it was one of the worst agreements ever concluded.

Nevertheless, he leaves it untouched and does not offer any kind of alternative. This seems to be establishing itself as the typical approach of Republicans under Trump, whether on health care policy at home or on the international stage.

Unable to present even a somewhat coherent policy blueprint, they simply damage what was built under Obama – and then try to pass off this work of destruction as policy.

Republicans are incapable of presenting even a coherent policy blueprint

In mid-June, Trump gave a textbook example of this self-serving non-policy on Cuba. He left most of Obama’s opening measures in place, but re-restricted precisely the area of U.S. package tourism that is crucial to Cuba’s supposedly all-important private enterprise sector. It could hardly be more strategically stupid.

The question of Russia policy is, of course, more delicate, since Trump himself is under massive pressure to prove his independence from Moscow. However, the fact that the Democrats in Congress are going along with the sanctions shows how rotten the supposedly progressive party’s foreign policy has become.

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