Iran Crushes Civil Unrest — and works its way up to America’s #3 adversary.
…or how Iran is avoiding the decades-old American geopolitical playbook.
…or how Iran is avoiding the decades-old American geopolitical playbook.
In 1953, after Iran’s democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh threatened to limit the oil reserve control of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (now BP — British Petroleum) and threatened to nationalize the country’s oil industry, the United States CIA put “Operation Ajax” (“Operation Boot” in the United Kingdom) into action.
This successful coup d’etat put the Shah of Iran back into power.
Thus was born US involvement in attempting to control the government that holds approximately 10% of the world’s oil reserves and is “too close for comfort” and vehemently anti- Israel, America’s strongest ally in the Middle East.
The Western puppet regime of the Shah of Iran stayed in power for 26 years, until the 1979 Iranian revolution deposed the Shah and Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini took over. Since then, the United States has been tightening the economic and political noose around Iran to varying degrees.
In response to the 1979 revolution that removed the Shah of Iran, President Jimmy Carter placed economic sanctions on Iran. Put another way, he engaged in “economic warfare,” with the country. These sanctions included the freezing of assets, including property.
In 1987, President Ronald Reagan placed a second round of sanctions that were expanded in 1996 to include any firm dealing with Iran.
A third-round in 2006 was expanded to encompass banking and insurance transactions, shipping and web-hosting services in addition to the pre-existing sanctions on oil, gas, the export of refined petroleum products and any dealing with the Islamic Revolutionary Gaurd.
These already crippling sanctions were expanded for the fourth time in September of 2019 after President Trump withdrew from the Iran Nuclear Deal and the country was alleged to have perpetrated an attack on a Saudi oil field. These new sanctions specifically targeted the Iranian National Bank with the US threatening to sanction “any country that purchases oil from Iran.”
This type of sanctioning or “economic warfare”, isn’t unique to Iran. Currently, America has about 8,000 (7,967 as of March 2019) sanctions in place around the world. While this is a lot, under President Bill Clinton it’s estimated that around 40% of the world’s populations (2.3 billion people) were subjected to some form of US sanctions. Nonetheless, given the tumultuous nature of the Middle East, Iran’s oil reserves, and the country’s rabid anti-Israeli stance, Iran is the biggest target for sanctioning by the US.
America uses these sanctions to disrupt not just the countries government but to impact all areas of the affected country, typically with a desire to change the regime. In fact, this economic strangling in lieu of an active or sponsored military coup d’etat has been the preferred method for the US Government for decades now. Naomi Klein refers to the disruption of both the economy and the sociopolitical environment as “The Shock Doctrine” and is explained in detail in her book by the same name.
IT’S ALL ABOUT BENJAMIN’S
While “economic warfare” had been practiced for decades, the marriage between the economy and the sociopolitical aspect of a country began to take shape in Indonesia and Greece in the 60s. However, it was fully realized by Milton Friedman and his “Chicago Boys” who assisted the CIA in the overthrow of Socialist President Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973.
A successful coup that resulted in the death of the Chilean leader and replaced with the American endorsed dictator General Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet promptly privatized all of what Allende nationalized. This allowed the western multi-national companies to bilk the country of both resources and money. Under the guise of free-market capitalism, this is the desired end game for Friedman’s plan.
Under the guises of “anti-communism” and the Drug War, Friedman’s ideas became the template for most of Latin America or anywhere America determined a threat. Today, “anti-terrorism” has been added to the list of reasons to enact this model of “economic warfare.”
War on Terror
Often requiring military force to be effective, “economic warfare” prevents growth, prohibits manufacturing and causes businesses to fail which results in higher unemployment. They also squeeze the middle class. Ironically, while these sanctions are designed to punish a regime or government, a disproportionate amount of the burden of them lands at the doorstep of the poorest and most vulnerable.
The efficacy of sanctions or this type of “economic warfare” remains questionable. In almost every case, some form of the military advisor or involvement was required to see the sanctions fully realized. The military involvement was either sanctioned and sponsored by America or it was American troops. For example, during the Salvadoran Civil War from 1979–1992, the US-supported and financed the creation of a junta to change the political environment. More recently, 13 years of international sanctions against Iraq still ended up with the 2003 US-led invasion.
Sanctions often pave the way for wars rather than averting them.
“If sanctions are hurting, they must be working.” — evidence suggests that — even when essentials such as food and medicine are excluded — sanctions hurt large swaths of the civilian population, not necessarily the targeted group.
Sanctions are often said to be “smart” and “targeted.” In practice, however, comprehensive economic sanctions are collective punishment.
Sanctions promote human rights. In practice, governments can portray sanctions as foreign aggression and crackdown on any human rights activist as being aligned with the enemy…and act accordingly.
Sanctions are necessary and effective in bringing about regime change. North Korea, Cuba, Myanmar…and now Iran, prove otherwise.
Sanctions effectively contain nuclear proliferation. —Since the Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1970, four countries have acquired nuclear weapons: Israel, India, Pakistan, and North Korea — three of them did so while under sanctions.
In Iran, the Milton Friedman boilerplate of strangling a country into submission by using both the economy and sociopolitical measures has seen the country spiral into an economic nosedive. Which, in turn, has led to civil unrest. While these current sanctions were meant to bring Iran to the negotiating table to discuss their nuclear program, it’s not working. According to The NYTimes, “Yes, the Iranians may be trying to reassemble the elements of the nuclear program, it notes, and they have not yet re-engaged in negotiations. But the uprisings are soaking up political time and attention.”
These most recent sanctions on Iran have pushed Iranian citizens into the desired result of open protests. Unfortunately, the Iranian government and military have responded differently than other countries have in the past.
In November of 2019, the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini summoned his forces to “Do whatever it takes” to quell the current uprising.
They did so by opening fire on unarmed Iranian protesters.
While both the US State Department and Amnesty International put the death toll in the hundreds, the Iranian interior ministry reported to Reuters that the crackdown has led to deaths closer to 1,500.
It seems as though the traditional model of sanctions and “economic warfare” is working as designed but not having the desired outcome. While citizens feel the brunt of them, they have only strengthened the resolve of Iranian hard-liners. They argue that:
“any negotiation” with America is futile because all the US wants is regime change and is vociferously “anti-Islam.”
No one anticipated the resolve of the Iranians.
Despite negative economic growth, the halving of Iran’s oil output and the sky-rocketing cost of gas for its citizens that led to the current uprising, Iran shows no sign of acquiescing to American demands.
It’s fair to say that Iran is facing its toughest period since the 1979 revolution.
Almost unwittingly, combined with everything else, these latest sanctions by President Trump has almost made America an ally in Iran’s “quest for political dominance.” While these crippling sanctions continue to force Iran towards the edge of economic collapse they’re also leading Iran to align itself with the two largest foes of America — China and Russia.
As Iranian leadership continues to spout anti-American rhetoric, its citizens continue to suffer and the economy marches toward certain implosion, the Iranian Navy is preparing for four days of naval exercises with America’s two other adversaries, Russia and China.
It’s safe to say this is not the desired result of economic sanctions.