I definitely don’t like the way women are treated in Iran, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. And I most emphatically do not approve of putting dissidents in prison, either. And as for torture… no! no! no! (If you tortured me to force me to endorse torture, I would probably give in, but those who love me, and their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren – and there may be many of them – would make sure that you and your lot (and offspring) never sleep easy.)

Nevertheless, the idea that a pompous king or emperor and his court should stride through the corridors of the world, passing judgements and rigorous sentences on “misbehaving” members of the global community is repugnant. All the more so, if said king or emperor is himself decadent and given to all sorts of vices (including torture!)

Vice President Harris is reputed to have been “tough on crime” in her past. (I gather she is not popular in her current position either.) Anybody who has had anything to do with miscreants will know that harsh punishments stimulate, rather than diminish, destructive urges. Yes, there are exceptions, but they are not the rule. Rather than tell you what you know – about US criminal justice, that is – I shall simply refer you to a United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) report:

In the United Kingdom, reoffending rates also topped 70 per cent in some prisons, according to statistics from the Ministry of Justice. Many offenders, even after severe sentences of imprisonment, repeatedly fail to desist from crime and reintegrate into the community as law-abiding citizens. Imprisonment, in itself, is incapable of addressing the offenders’ social integration issues. [highlighted by me]

… In addition to the costs of law enforcement and investigating and prosecuting crimes, there are the costs of imprisonment, as well as the costs to the victims and the community.

Consider also the effects of prison overcrowding and smouldering community anger. Look at Haiti now!

So it is, not only with individual delinquents, but also with nations.

The US should know that patriotic sentiment – nationalism, if you will – is something to be reckoned with. In spite of the near civil-war-situation in the USA, US Americans love their country passionately. Iranians do too. Iran was, after all, practically the cradle of civilisation. Iranians have a history and cultural heritage compared to which US history and cultural heritage is still in kindergarten. The same applies to China and even to Russia, where historical awareness and pride is a force that ignorant US politicians have disregarded. (That the US establishment is so unbelievably ignorant should terrify US voters.)

As for Cuba and Venezuela, relatively new countries, they have been heroic in the extreme: Like the USA they stood up to the colonial power, but they have since also stood up to the North American bully! And they are proud of their heroism. (Note, by the way, how many US Americans and Europeans have loved Cuba.)

By the time it was Venezuela’s turn to suffer the tightening of the sanction screws, the Western press was better prepared than they had been after the Cuban revolution to unleash defamation campaigns against Hugo Chavez. Even John Pilger could not save Chavez’ reputation in the West. But Venezuelans, and a very large (probably growing) proportion of Latin Americans warmly revere the late Hugo Chavez, which is one reason why Maduro is still comfortably seated.

Unfortunately, the USA has no respect for Democracy in Venezuela, or for that matter in any other country that resists US political and economic control, which is why they have applied sanctions that more or less kill off Venezuelans.

Quoting a CEPR (Center for Economic and Policy Research) report:

According to the National Survey on Living Conditions (ENCOVI by its acronym in Spanish), an annual survey of living conditions administered by three Venezuelan universities, there was a 31 percent increase in general mortality from 2017 to 2018. This would imply an increase of more than 40,000 deaths. This would be a large loss of civilian life even in an armed conflict, and it is virtually certain that the US economic sanctions made a substantial contribution to these deaths. … As noted above, the impact of the August 2017 sanctions on the collapse of oil production and therefore access to imports was quite immediate…[highlighted by me]

The United States first imposed sanctions targeting the Venezuelan government in 2015.

Since then, sanctions have multiplied to the point that millions of ragged Venezuelans have turned into unwelcome itinerant paupers roaming the rest of the South American continent where they constitute as seriously a destabilising demographic force as the Central American immigrants to the USA. Decades of US regime change operations and support for vicious dictatorships in all of Latin America are the root cause of all of this displacement.

Sanctions particularly affect health care (medicines and gear), cf. The Lancet

Soon after imposing economic sanctions on a country, many essential life-saving drugs become unavailable. Even production of some drugs being manufactured in a country is decreased, or even stopped, because of a shortage in basic ingredients or spare machine parts that are necessary for drug production. The price of drugs increases to a level that people with low income can barely afford. …Lack of spare parts affects not only medical devices but also other necessary infrastructures such as electric generators; frequent power cuts cause serious problems (loss of vaccines, drugs, ventilators, monitors, etc). Hundreds of thousands of people die in silence from diseases.

Have those who approve of sanctioning a country considered the surviving victims’ hatred, accumulated incrementally year by year? Have those who design US foreign policy any idea of the growing global contempt for the US “rules-based order”?

  • What rules?
  • Who made the rules?
  • And why do the so-called “rules” – whatever they are – not apply to the USA?
  • Why do NO rules apply to the USA?

Listen to this angry but extraordinarily knowledgeable young man, Ben Norton, explain Latin American anger.

Remarkably, the Maduro government has survived. According to MintPress as at March 2022:

The government in Caracas, however, somehow survived for reasons that differ, depending on the political position of the analysts. In Venezuela, much credence is being given to the country’s socialist values, the resilience of the people and to the Bolivarian movement. The anti-Maduro forces in the US, centred mostly in Florida, blame Maduro’s survival on Washington’s lack of resolve. A third factor, which is often overlooked, is Russia.

I would like to add, though, a detail that does not seem to interest the mainstream media or even Mintpress: The Venezuelan authorities prioritised food imports and food subsidies according to another CEPR report.

Food imports in 2020 are similar to those in 2017 ($2.0 billion in 2017, $1.8 billion in 2020) despite total imports and GDP falling by around 50 percent during that period. The decline in import capacity that occurred after 2016 did not lead to lower food import levels because the government found a way to prioritize food imports. An overhaul of public sector food assistance policies, and in particular the launch of a system of nationwide distribution of food packages (known by the acronym CLAP, for Local Committees of Supply and Production) to families in need in 2016, appears to have played an important role in addressing food insecurity. In 2020, the subsidy received by families through the CLAP system was $855 million, or almost 50 percent of the country’s total food imports. [highlighted by me]

Venezuela is not the only country whose population is being castigated by the USA. The above CEPR report which examines the effect of “sanctions”, includes three detailed “case studies”: Iran, Afghanistan and Venezuela.

The so-called “Democratic” USA arrogantly disregards the global majority of countries that condemn the imposition of sanctions all over the place.

Yes, the Russian invasion of Ukraine was in contravention of International Law. Yes, yes and yes.

But US unilateral sanctions are also in contravention of International Law!

Articles 39 and 41 of the United Nations Charter empower the UN Security Council to adopt “measures not involving the use of armed force” in response to the existence of “any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression”:

Article 39: The Security Council shall determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression and shall make recommendations, or decide what measures shall be taken in accordance with Articles 41 and 42, to maintain or restore international peace and security.

Venezuela represented no “threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression”. Ever. The USA just didn’t like the Venezuelan administration.