Tag Archives: sanctions

Reality Check: Will Sanctions Against North Korea Really Work?

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The Russian envoy to North Korea warned President Trump not to place any further sanctions against North Korea or Kim Jong-un surrounding “supplies of oil”.

To do so, he says, would be perceived as a declaration of war. But if we’re going to be honest, aren’t all sanctions an act of war? And why are we putting sanctions on North Korea in the first place?

Forget all the talking points you’ve heard over the past year — because this is a Reality Check you’re not going to get anywhere else.

Alexander Matsegora, Moscow’s envoy to North Korea says that any more sanctions on the country’s oil supply would be perceived as a declaration of war.

He went on to tell President Trump, “If the supplies of oil and oil product are stopped, it would mean a complete blockade of the DPRK (North Korea).”

According to Newsbreakouts.com, “Before Christmas, the UN Security Council unanimously voted to cut exports of gasoline, diesel and other oil products by 89 per cent.”

And The Express UK reports that, “Right now, the current UN sanction that caps oil supplies to 540,000 tons from China and 60,000 tons of refined oil from other nations was labelled as ‘a drop in the ocean’”

You know that the war of words between president Trump and Kim Jong-un has been intensifying for almost a year, and so have actions by the U.S.

For instance, in November of last year, President Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson argued that North Korea deserved to be back on the list of state sponsors of terror.

Why? Because the North Korean government is reported to have assassinated a North Korean citizen—Kim Jong-Un’s own half-brother.

Of course, that says nothing about Washington’s own program to assassinate U.S. citizens like Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old son under Obama, and later Awlaki’s eight-year-old daughter under Trump.

And like Kim’s half brother, Awlaki and his two children were never tried or convicted of any single crime before being killed by their own government. They were living in Yemen but were still full U.S. born citizens.

The Ron Paul Institute points out:

So North Korea is officially a terrorism-sponsoring nation according to the Trump Administration because Kim Jong-Un killed a family member.” Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has killed 10,000 civilians and injured 40,000 more since 2105 and “no one says a word. In fact, the US government has just announced it will sell Saudi Arabia $7 billion more weapons.

The bottom line? In reality, a “state sponsor of terrorism” designation has little to do with actual support for global terrorism.

As bad as the North Korean government is—and no doubt the North Korean government is terrible—the government of North Korea does not invade other countries, nor do we have reports of North Korea funding terror attacks around the world.

The designation is a political one, allowing Washington to ramp up more aggression against North Korea.

And part of that aggression are sanction, which are in and of themselves an act of war. But truthfully, sanctions aren’t a war on military or government. They are war on the people.

During this year’s State of the Union address, President Trump said this:

“North Korea’s reckless pursuit of nuclear missiles could very soon threaten our homeland. We are waging a campaign of maximum pressure to prevent that from ever happening. Past experience has taught us that complacency and concessions only invite aggression and provocation. I will not repeat the mistakes of past administrations that got us into this very dangerous position.”

And there was an moving moment with a North Korean defector.

So—aggressive sanctions against North Korea are the way to go?

According to Arie W. Kruglanski from the National Center for the Study of Terrorism:

  • Extensive sanctions imposed on India and Pakistan didn’t deter them from acquiring a nuclear capability.
  • Economic pressure by the U.S. in the 1970s did not convince Turkey to remove its troops from Cyprus.
  • U.S. sanctions against Russia under the Obama administration didn’t seem to phase the country.

In fact, according to the CATO Institute, “…the most compre-hensive study of sanctions found, they fail to achieve their goals in 66 percent of cases, and they fail 79 percent of the time when designed to discourage military misadventurism.”

And why that is, is what you need to know. Because in reality, sanctions don’t hurt the most powerful, most connected and wealthiest people in a nation who, by the way, are the ones who control militaries.

No. Cutting off oil, crashing economies, weakening finance, creating a lack of food import—all that those sanctions truly do is bruise and harm the people in that country who have no real control over whether there is a war or not.

That’s Reality Check. Let’s talk about it tonight on Twitter and Facebook.




Clinton Says U.S. Should Impose New Sanctions on Iran Over Ballistic Missile Program

2016 Democratic presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Saturday that the U.S. should impose new sanctions on Iran over its ballistic missile program and over allegations of its involvement in the disappearance of Robert Levinson, an American who went missing in Iran in 2007.

Iran is still violating UN Security Council resolutions with its ballistic missile program, which should be met with new sanctions designations and firm resolve,” said Clinton on Saturday according to The Hill, just hours after U.S. sanctions on Iran expired under President Obama’s nuclear deal.

Clinton said that she believes President Obama should not thank Iran for releasing hostages under the nuclear deal’s terms or for releasing 10 U.S. Navy sailors who allegedly entered Iranian waters last week.

[RELATED: Iran Releases 10 U.S. Navy Sailors Held for ‘Trespassing’ on Iranian Waters]

These prisoners were held unjustly by a regime that continues to threaten the peace and security of the Middle East. Another American, Bob Levinson, still isn’t home with his family,” said Clinton.

ABC News notes that Iranian officials claim to have no knowledge of Levinson’s whereabouts and maintain that he is not in Iranian custody.

U.S. officials say that Levinson was working as a private investigator when he went missing in Iran, but his family says that he was working for the Central Intelligence Agency.

[RELATED: Bernie Sanders Beating Clinton in N.H., Tied In Iowa]

The treatment of our Navy sailors earlier this week was offensive, including the release of demeaning and provocative videos,” added Clinton. She said that if she is elected president, her attitude towards Iran would be to “distrust and verify.”

However, Clinton praised President Obama’s nuclear deal and called it an “important achievement of diplomacy.

According to USA Today, on Sunday, the U.S. Department of the Treasury imposed new targeted sanctions against 11 individuals and companies who it claims were involved in facilitating an Iranian ballistic missile program.

For more election coverage, click here.

U.N. Security Council Unanimously Votes To Endorse Iran Nuclear Deal

The 15 members that make up the United Nations Security Council voted in favor of adopting a deal between Iran and major world powers that intends to limit Iran’s nuclear ability, in exchange for lifting international oil and financial sanctions.

The deal, which was called “historic” by both the European Union’s foreign policy chief and Iran’s foreign minister, was settled on Tuesday between Iran, the United States, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom after 20 months of negotiations, four target dates and three extensions.

The Hill reported that the vote “sends a strong signal of international support for the agreement,” and that some U.S. lawmakers have criticized the Obama administration for “pushing for U.N. action before Congress has a to chance to weigh in.

Reuters noted that the UN will be able to re-impose penalties “during the next decade if Tehran breaches the historic agreement” and that no sanctions relief can be implemented until the International Atomic Energy Agency “submits a report to the Security Council verifying that Iran has taken certain nuclear-related measures outlined in the agreement.”

U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Samantha Power said that although the deal “does not address many of our profound concerns,” it would ultimately make the world “safer and more secure.”

Power also said that if Iran “abides by the commitments” that it agreed to in the deal, then it will find both the international community and the United States “willing to provide a path out of isolation and toward greater engagement.”

The nuclear deal, also called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), will start lifting sanctions on Iran in 90 days, after the “respective capitals and legislatures have had a time to review the deal’s provisions,” according to Power.

While several members of Congress were irked at the fact that the U.N. Security Council was taking a vote on the nuclear deal before they had time to weigh in on it, Secretary of State John Kerry said that he felt it was their right to vote.

“I mean honestly, it’s presumptuous of some people to suspect that France, Russia, China, Germany and Britain ought to do what the Congress tells them to do,” Kerry said. “They’re individual countries and they have sovereignty. They’re members of the United Nations and they have a right to have a vote.”

Along with Republicans in Congress, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been very critical of the nuclear deal, calling it a “historic mistake for the world,” and saying it will not stop “Iran’s aggression.”

Beginning Monday, Congress has 60 days to review the deal’s provisions before Obama can begin removing congressional sanctions. Obama has said that he will veto any congressional legislation seeking to block the agreement.

The Hill noted that President Obama, Vice President Biden and other officials have recently begun an “aggressive lobbying push to rally Democrats,” including a “rare golf outing” over the weekend between Obama and three Democratic House lawmakers.

Iran, World Powers Reach Historic Nuclear Deal

After 20 months of negotiations, four target dates and three extensions, Iran, the United States, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom announced that they reached a historic deal on Tuesday that will limit Tehran’s nuclear ability, in exchange for lifting international oil and financial sanctions.

Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, said “Today is a historic day,” and called it a great honor “for us to announce that we have reached an agreement on the Iranian nuclear issue.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif agreed that the deal is a “historic moment,” but cautioned that it was “not perfect.” He concluded, “Today could have been the end of hope, but now we are starting a new chapter of hope.”

Addressing the deal from the White House on Tuesday morning, President Obama said it “is not built on trust, it is built on verification,” and that in addition to cutting off all of Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon, the terms of the agreement state that Iran will remove two-thirds of its installed centrifuges and will dispose of 98 percent of its stockpile of uranium. As a result, Obama said that Iran will receive “phased in sanctions relief.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told media in Vienna that although Russia and China pushed to end an arms embargo on Iran as soon as possible, “the West insisted that the embargo should stay,” the Iranians “agreed to compromise” and the embargo will be kept in place for the next five years, during which Iran will be able to import arms during that time “on the condition of the notification and the verification with the U.N. Security Council.”

Throughout the process of negotiations, the deal has faced opposition from congressional Republicans. Congress now has 60 days to review the provisions in the deal before Obama can begin removing congressional sanctions.

Obama said that he would veto any congressional legislation seeking to block the agreement and that no deal “means a greater change of more war” in the Middle East.

Ron Paul: Europeans Oppose NATO War With Russia

While the North Atlantic Treaty Organization beats war drums and the media propagates opposition to Russia, a new survey shows that the majority of the European people oppose NATO war with Russia.

The poll, conducted by PEW Research shows that populations in these countries are firmly against war with Russia even if Russian forces attack a NATO member country.

In his latest Liberty Report, three-time presidential candidate and former Texas Rep. Ron Paul discussed the poll findings, his thoughts on NATO and war with Russia. “One disappointing thing was that more than the majority of the American people and the Canadian people were for getting engaged and sending troops,” Paul said. “That’s not the case in Europe.” Paul also noted that the poll shows older people skewing in favor of intervention while younger people are more pro-peace.

I think one of our problems is that we creep into war, and it’s not done by accident,” Paul explained. An example of this creeping is yesterday’s vote in Congress to raise the discussion on whether or not we should allow President Barack Obama the authority to use military force in the war on the Islamic State. Moreover, the sanctions imposed on other countries by the U.S. government is essentially an act of war, he said.

Though there may have been some questions on the economic impact of taking on Russia over Ukraine, sanctions don’t seem to be opposed. The U.S. pushed for broad new sanctions against Russia at G-7 in April of last year, and Truth In Media reported on a new series of sanctions against Russia by the U.S. and European Union last July.

I think the people, maybe too often, maybe in Canada and in the United States, they get their opinions from FOX and MSNBC,” Paul said. “And they sort-of preach this doctrine that we have these obligations to go and fight these wars. But it really doesn’t solve what our country ought to do with NATO. I’m afraid NATO is going to be with us for a very long time. I see it as only a tool for our propaganda.

Paul has been vocal in his position against NATO for years and has cited former Sen. Robert A. Taft’s reasoning for opposing the creation of the NATO alliance from the start.

And NATO is only expanding. Liberty Report co-host Daniel McAdams pointed out that the alliance is building a new headquarters with a hefty price tag. In spite of this, McAdams cited statistics showing U.S. opinion of NATO is shifting toward disapproval.

Paul again reinforced the idea that putting tough sanctions on a country is an act of war. “There was another figure I thought was interesting about how militant the Russians are now, how they’re ready to come, ‘the Russians are coming’,” he explained. “. . . and here, the people closest to them aren’t too worried about it.” If you examine military expenditures and consider who is spending the most, the U.S. reigns supreme. Second is China, followed by Saudi Arabia and then Russia.

It’s perpetual war for perpetual peace because we are the good guys and we’re after the evil doers and we’re an exceptional nation,” Paul said. “It puts us in a tough spot because there is so much greatness that has been associated with America and the advancement for the cause of Liberty. But I can’t argue that the advancement for the cause of liberty has been very good for the past 100 years. But these people that argue the case that because of our greatness and we protect liberty—and you can make a case for the evil doers ISIS—but think of who does more beheadings than ISIS. It happens to be Saudi Arabia. So this is the problem, and this also opens up the door for advancing our cause and our foreign policy, which is the traditional American foreign policy. It is one that the founders advised.

Watch the full episode above and check out more episodes of the Ron Paul Liberty Report here at Truth In Media.

In case you missed Ben Swann’s Truth In Media episode on ISIS watch it below:


US Sanctions May Save Venezuelan Govt

External Enemy Could Serve as Unifier Amid Economic Struggles

by Jason Ditz, March 11, 2015

Earlier this year, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro looked to be in a bad way. Falling oil price had crushed the nation’s economy, and he was facing soaring inflation and chronic shortages.

Earlier this week, President Obama tried to cut out what’s left of Venezuela’s support by declaring them a “threat to national security,” with an eye on imposing a new round of economic sanctions.

For Maduro, the timing couldn’t be better, as it has brought the attention off the economy, and turned it instead onto foreign relations. It has given Maduro a new lease on life, railing against American “imperialism.”

While that doesn’t fix the economy, the imposing of US sanctions will give the government a convenient excuse, and an external enemy to rally their own supporters against.

Russia Responds to SOTU Address, Accuses U.S. of Wanting World Domination

On Wednesday, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov responded to comments made by President Obama during his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, regarding U.S. relations with Russia.

In 2014, Obama signed a series of executive orders that placed sanctions on Russia, in order to increase the “diplomatic and financial costs of Russia’s aggressive actions towards Ukraine.”

In his address, Obama explained that by placing sanctions on Russia, the United States was “demonstrating the power of American strength and diplomacy.”

We’re upholding the principle that bigger nations can’t bully the small,” said Obama. “By opposing Russian aggression, and supporting Ukraine’s democracy, and reassuring our NATO allies.”

In his response, Lavrov stated that by placing sanctions on Russia, the United States was harming mutual partners, and mutual work between the nations was suffering because of it.

We do not want, and we will not allow, any new Cold War,” said Lavrov. “Our Western partners should understand that security in the modern world is impossible through attempts of one-sided actions or one-sided pressure on partners in mutual work.

Obama said that while he “heard from some folks” that President Putin’s aggression was a “masterful display of strategy and strength,” he believed that the United States was the nation with a strong and strategic economy.

Today, it is America that stands strong and united with our allies, while Russia is isolated with its economy in tatters,” said Obama. “That’s how America leads – not with bluster, but with persistent, steady resolve.

Lavrov countered Obama’s comment, insisting that the “attempts to isolate Russia will not get any result.” He went on to say that because of the lack of bilateral dialogue, “relations between Moscow and Washington have been seriously exacerbated.”

The Americans have taken the course of confrontation and do not assess their own steps critically at all,” said Lavrov. “Yesterday’s speech by President Obama shows that at the center of their philosophy is only one thing: ‘We are number one and everyone else has to respect that.’ This is a little outdated and does not reflect today’s reality.”

New sanctions to be placed on North Korean organizations

While the origins of the Sony hack is still a point of contention, with some people claiming it was a company insider named Linda and many claiming it was North Korea, President Obama has put up new sanctions against three North Korean organizations as well as 10 individuals.

These sanctions, according to the BBC,  are believed to be the first time the U.S. has punished a country over cyber-attacks against a company based in the U.S.

While all the new sanctions are believed to not be against those directly involved with the Sony hack, White House officials are saying the sanctions are meant to isolate North Korea’s defense industry to prevent future cyber-attacks.

“This is really an example of where you’ve had a country really cross a threshold in terms of its attack due to its destructive and coercive nature,” said an official according to Politico.

The sanctions are mostly centered on North Korea’s military intelligence agencies, while the 10 individuals who are affected by the sanctions are, according to Reuters, involved in the sale and proliferation of weapons.

In a letter written by President Obama to House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the president wrote, according to ABC News, “The order is not targeted at the people of North Korea, but rather is aimed at the Government of North Korea and its activities that threaten the United States and others.”

Whether or not these sanctions will have the desired results the White House hopes for is still unknown. However, given the U.S. placed sanctions on North Korea’s nuclear program in 2008, 2010, and 2011, all of which North Korea ignored, one can assume these sanctions will not be taken seriously by the government of North Korea.

Obama Sanctions North Korea, Citing Discredited Sony Allegation

White House Says Sanctions ‘First Aspect’ of Retaliation

by Jason Ditz, January 02, 2015

Even though the FBI’s allegations that North Korea was behind the hacking of Sony Pictures have long since been discredited, with cybersecurity experts pointing the finger at a group of hackers centered around a disgruntled former employee, President Obama today announced a new round of sanctions against North Korea explicitly in retaliation for this.

White House officials termed the sanctions the “first aspect” of the president’s promised “proportional” retaliation against North Korea for cancelling the release of Sony movie The Interview, a movie which was released at any rate.

The timing of the sanctions suggests there’s more than just a botched FBI investigation behind them, however, as the sanctions were announced just one day after both North and South Korea began talking up a summit designed to improve ties between the two.

Whenever North Korea has suggested any sort of rapprochement with the US, it has been dismissed by President Obama out of hand, and this move may be designed to sabotage any South Korean talks, or to at least send the signal that no matter what the Park government decides, the US will remains hostile to North Korea.

Obama Joins The EU in Imposing New Sanctions on Russia

On Tuesday, after accusing the Kremlin of supporting anti-Kiev militias in eastern Ukraine, and threatening to cripple the Russian economy, the United States, along with the 28 nations that comprise the European Union, announced a new series of sanctions against Moscow that could take place as early as August 1, 2014.

According to The Washington Post, the European measures were “the strongest against Russia since the Cold War, with the potential to sway Russian decision-making in a way that previous penalties have not.”

The EU released a statement saying that they agreed to enact these sanctions, in order to “limit access to EU capital markets for Russian State-owned financial institutions, impose an embargo on trade in arms, establish an export ban for dual use goods for military end users and curtail Russian access to sensitive technologies particularly in the field of the oil sector.

According to RT, the EU’s decision to impose sanctions on Russia came after several months of European leaders increasing pressure on the Russian government by “extending visa bans and asset freezes for a number of individuals that the EU considers responsible for Moscow’s policy toward Ukraine or close to the ones who are.

Just hours after the announcement from the European Union, President Obama made an announcement of his own regarding relations with Russia. He stated that the US Treasury department was adding the Bank of Moscow, the Russian Agricultural Bank, the United Shipbuilding Corporation, and VTB Bank OAO to the list of Russian Federation-affiliated entities sanctioned by Washington.

“Today is a reminder that the United States means what it says and we will rally the international community in standing up for the rights and freedom of people around the world,” said Obama. “Because we’re closely coordinating our actions with Europe, the sanctions we are announcing today will have an even bigger bite.”

Obama accused Russia of setting back “decades of genuine progress,” by isolating itself from the international community. “It does not have to be this way,” said Obama. “This is a choice that Russia, and President Putin in particular, has made.”

According to The New York Times, despite the fact that European leaders have been reluctant to impose sanctions up until now, their decision today “reflected increasing alarm that Russia is not only helping separatists in Ukraine but directly involving itself in the fighting.”

The president of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, released a statement saying that the sanctions enacted by the EU were “meant as a strong warning: illegal annexation of territory and deliberate destabilization of a neighboring sovereign country cannot be accepted in 21st century Europe.” He went on to write, “Destabilizing Ukraine, or any other Eastern European neighboring state, will bring heavy costs.

A senior economist at Oxford Economics in London, Adam Slater, predicted that the sanctions imposed on Russia would be successful, saying, “These sanctions can have quite a substantial chilling effect on the Russian economy. That is probably a quite effective way to put pressure on Russia.

However, analysts at Citigroup released a statement to their clients saying, “Although the latest sanctions increase the costs for Russia, Russia’s perceived national security interest calculus should not change meaningfully as a result. If anything, official Russian government statements have emphasized Russia’s capacity for self-reliance.”

Despite the fact that international monitoring groups found that there was no evidence of Russia relocating troops to the Ukrainian border or supplying anti-Kiev militants with weapons, Obama still insisted that President Putin’s administration was “firing artillery across the border, transporting more military equipment to the rebels and massing its own troops.”

“It’s not a new cold war,” insisted Obama. “What it is is a very specific issue related to Russia’s unwillingness to recognize that Ukraine can chart its own path.”

US Pushes Broad New Sanctions Against Russia at G-7

This article was written by guest contributor Jason Ditz.

The Obama Administration is pushing for harsh new sanctions against Russia to be unveiled at the G-7 this week, saying sanctions will target Russia’s military exports as well as other sectors of its economy.

Nominally, the new sanctions aim to “punish” Russia for not using its influence to shut down protests in eastern Ukraine seeking enhanced autonomy. The G-7 is also preparing a statement condemning the “illegal” protesters and reiterating its opposition to the Russian annexation of Crimea.

The White House says the next round of sanctions has been designed to particularly hurt companies held by allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin, though previous attempts at sanctions said the same thing and didn’t amount to much at all.

The US has only limited trade ties to Russia to break, and thus Europe is expected to do most of the heavy lifting. The G-7 can’t really guarantee EU action, however, as any EU sanctions would need to be unanimous, and many nations in central and eastern Europe are averse to new sanctions, believing they would harm their economies more than the Russian economy.

There is a growing split within the administration on that score as well, with some wanting to push unilateral US sanctions beyond what the Europeans would ever go along with, and others suggesting the myth of a “unified” front needs to be sustained, even if it means slowing the sanctions war down.


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