Today’s actions are another tragic example of how our broad economic sanctions against Iran punish ordinary people for the actions of the Iranian regime.
These measures appear to be laying the groundwork for new extraterritorial sanctions against Iran and its central bank. Central bank sanctions would be so indiscriminate that they won’t just hurt ordinary Iranians, they will punish ordinary people across the globe by raising gas prices, killing jobs, and threatening to throw the U.S. and global economies back into recession.
Inside of Iran, ordinary people are being squeezed on both sides by the repression of their own government and the indiscriminate sanctions policies of the West. The untargeted sanctions implemented today will further impede the sale of food, medicine, and other humanitarian goods to Iran.
Iran’s democratic opposition has warned that broad sanctions are a ‘gift to the regime.’ Sanctions on Iran have undermined the backbone of the opposition – Iran’s middle class – and enriched Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. And they have created a chilling effect so pervasive that Interent communication and anti-censorship tools are blocked not just by the regime, but also by the U.S. and American companies.
Unfortunately, policymakers have succumbed to a false choice between either more broad sanctions on Iran or military strikes that—short of a full scale land invasion—would not stop Iran’s nuclear program. In reality, without a firm commitment towards a diplomatic resolution, the sanctions path and the path to war are the same.
The U.S., Iran, and other stakeholders must engage in serious, sustained direct negotiations aimed at resolving the many issues at hand. Committed diplomacy is the only way to establish robust safeguards on Iran’s nuclear program, address Iran’s role in the region—including in Afghanistan and Iraq, protect human rights inside of Iran, and prevent an immensely costly and counterproductive war. It is time to stop punishing ordinary people inside and outside of Iran for a sanctions policy that is leading us to disaster.