Sanctimonious Sanctions

The use of sanctions against perceived bad guys has been employed for millenia.  They weren’t always called that of course but the effect was the same.  The Romans and even Greeks used embargoes and blockades to punish recalcitrant city-states around the Mediterranean Sea on many occasions.  The employment of sanctions has been utilized many times in the last 100 years.  The use has received lots of press and comment especially in the last 20 years or so.  There was great comment and push during the ’90’s as Yugoslavia began to unravel into the Balkan Wars of that era.  Europe and the US imposed them and they have been used many other times and in many other areas in recent decades.  South Africa had sanctions against it.  Israel has had sanctions imposed by Arab neighbors off and on for decades and certainly a number of the Middle East nations have been the subject of international sanctions from Western nations as has North Korea and so many others.  The sanctions are used to punish bad people for doing bad things, at least that is the announced purpose and to force them to change their behavior.  Especially in the more politically correct era they allegedly come from a position of those on the higher moral ground.

We often forget that we and all other nations often partner ourselves up with some pretty despicable characters when the perceived need arises to protect our survival or vital interests.  Most Americans wouldn’t even remember that the Soviet Union carved up Poland along with Hitler, their ally, that started WWII.  Even fewer are aware that shortly thereafter Stalin was in full fighting mode against Finland and on a conquest mode.  Those actions were morally indefensible.  The actions were so bad that Great Britain and France were considering declaring war against Stalin in early 1940 before Hitler launched the offensive against the West.  It got lost in the smoke of war.   There were no sanctions against Stalin and the Commies.   When Hitler attacked Stalin we teamed up with the Soviets to defeat Hitler.  The Soviets were allowed to even participate in the Nuremberg trials after the War for war crimes.  Their crimes committed in Poland and Finland weren’t brought up.  

During the War others nations teamed up economically with Germany yet suffered no sanctions during the war and had little consequence after the War.  Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland all remained neutral during the War.  They all continued active trade with the Germans.  The Swedes supplied most of the iron ore for Germany military industries to the very end of the War.  Portugal and Spain supplied other raw materials such as tungsten and agricultural products to German occupied Europe.   Switzerland had an active and large arms manufacturing industry and supplied the Germans with weapons to the very end.  The were still shipping goods to Germany only a month before the surrender.  The Swiss made the Germans pay in gold.  They collected over 1.6 billion in Swiss Franc value.  After the war they worked out a settlement with the Allies and returned about 250 million for emergency aid in the Western European countries.  The Swiss and the others also allowed the Germans to use their banks for transaction around the world and as a conduit for communications.   None ever were sanctioned for being an aider and abetter of Hitler. 

High-minded and haughty declarations of moral purity all work real well until the rubber meets the road.   There are no sanctions yet against Syria.  How long did it take before there were any sanctions against Libya?   After the tea leaves from the battle field revealed the likelihood that Qaddafi was falling.   The use of sanctions can be useful and coincidentally do some moral good on occasion.  They are another tool in the diplomatic and military quiver to deal with opponents.  Just don’t preach to us about their use being for the good of mankind, unless that is really the fact and not merely a cover for convenient and profitable action.

When you mail your quarterly tax payment next week don’t forget to put your SWAK on the back.  Don’t you just love knowing YOUR money will be spent wisely and not for any political purpose gain?   Oh, don’t forget that for every thousand dollars you send the Feds that they will borrow another $400.00 on your credit.


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Filed under business, Culture, Economics, Foreign Affairs, government, history, military history, Politics

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