Sanctions, Sadism & a little atomic bomb
The word sanction is bloodless. It gets thrown about in its current political form as the inadequate option being used currently against Iran.
But sometimes stories emerge to put a name, and a set of experiences, to the reality of what sanctions do to actual people.
And it’s important to remember that sanctions hurt innocent people, not the psychotic leaders of the countries the psychotic leaders of America have beef with.
The story that got to me today is the story of Dr. Shakir Hamoodi, as recounted by Glenn Greenwald.
Hamoodi came with his wife to the US in 1985 to work toward his PhD in nuclear engineering from MU and, not wanting to return to the oppression of Saddam’s regime, stayed in the US. He was offered a research professor position at the university, proceeded to have five American-born children, all of whom he and his wife raised in the Columbia community, and then himself became a US citizen in 2002.
But US-imposed sanctions after the First Gulf War had decimated the value of Iraqi currency and were causing extreme hardship for his large family who remained in Iraq…
The sanctions regime decimated Hamoodi’s family. His elderly blind mother was unable to buy basic medication. His sister, one of 11 siblings back in Iraq, suffered a miscarriage because she was unable to buy $10 antibiotics. His brother, a surgeon, was earning the equivalent of $2 per month and literally unable to feed his family…
The article goes on to explain how nearly a decade after Dr. Hamoodi “violated” Iraqi sanctions by sending a sustenance pittance to his family, he has been convicted and sentenced to 3 years at Leavenworth.
Greenwald states it bluntly:
The reason his relatives were starving and living in abject misery was precisely because the US government enforced years of brutal sanctions. To have that same government then turn around and punish him for the “crime” of helping his family members survive is warped sadism.
To pivot to the man who wants to keep his job, it should be asked: is Obama’s foreign policy sadistic?
First, let’s take the newly non-terrorist terrorist group, MEK, and how Obama’s state department delisting them is a slap in the face for average Iranians:
As everyone knows, since the revolution of 1979, the United States and the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) have been BEFs — best enemies forever. While the US occasionally offers its solidarity to the people of Iran and criticizes the regime’s human rights record, its policy of sanctions and isolation actually strengthens regime hardliners. So it’s not surprising that on some days Iranians think: with an enemy like the US, why would the IRI need any friends?
Last Friday, September 21st, was one of those days. The State Department, under pressure from powerful but unknown powers, leaked the news that the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK), a shady quasi-cultish group with a history of violence and intimidation, would be delisted from the US foreign terrorist organizations (FTO) list. Iranians inside and outside the country rarely agree about anything. They find common ground in their love of pomegranates, pride for Iranian athletes competing internationally, respect for Mohammad Mossadeq, the 1950s prime minister who nationalized Iranian oil before being ousted in a US-backed coup, and deep contempt if not hatred for the MEK.
Those who lived through the early years of the Iranian revolution remember the MEK’s violence, which was justified somehow by their curious mix of Islam and Marxism. But the real animosity for the movement arose when they went into exile, settling and supporting Saddam Hussein in the 8-year Iran-Iraq war. As a British-educated former Iranian senior civil servant once said to me: “During World War II siding with the enemy was treason and punishable by death. The MEK committed treason, and the Iranian public will never forgive them.”
Before this delisting, these nutjobs were terrorists. That means when people like Howard Dean and Rudy Giuliani were taking money to “lobby” for their delisting, a casual observer may wonder if that’s not somehow providing material support to terrorists for services of access rendered.
Prison for Howard and Rudy? Ha!
But when it comes to Obama’s sadistic foreign policy, it gets worse.
A week ago a report by Stanford and New York Universities, titled Living Under Drones, makes the case that certain Hitler references to Obama’s policies are less hyperbolic than many would like to admit.
Here’s the subtitle of the article: The CIA’s Predator drones are bringing to Pakistan the same horror that Hitler’s doodlebugs inflicted on London:
Sometimes it is difficult for those comfortably ensconced in the west to understand. But for me, it brings to mind my mother, Jean Stafford Smith. In 1944 she was 17. She had left the safety of her school (she had been evacuated to the countryside) to do a secretarial course in London. Each evening she took the bus home from Grosvenor Place, behind Buckingham Palace, to her digs off Tottenham Court Road. Back then, darkness would truly descend on the city, as the blackout was near total.
Sixty-eight years on, my mother retains vivid memories of the gathering gloom. One night a week, she climbed the tower of a local church to spot for the fires that might spread from an explosion. When the doodlebugs (as V1s – Hitler’s drones – were called) came over, she knew that she was safe so long as she could hear the engine. She knew, too, that the drones were indiscriminate killers, and that only when they fell silent did she have to worry where they might fall. Some of the engines apparently cut in and out, like the oscillating buzz of a chainsaw, heartstopping for the potential victims below.
Combine Obama’s state-sanctioned terrorism abroad with continuing the assault on civil liberties at home (by appealing the permanent injunction against the indefinite detention provision of the NDAA), and it seems, for some people, like Conor Friedersdorf, that’s a deal breaker.
The whole liberal conceit that Obama is a good, enlightened man, while his opponent is a malign, hard-hearted cretin, depends on constructing a reality where the lives of non-Americans — along with the lives of some American Muslims and whistleblowers — just aren’t valued. Alternatively, the less savory parts of Obama’s tenure can just be repeatedly disappeared from the narrative of his first term, as so many left-leaning journalists, uncomfortable confronting the depths of the man’s transgressions, have done over and over again.
Keen on Obama’s civil-libertarian message and reassertion of basic American values, I supported him in 2008. Today I would feel ashamed to associate myself with his first term or the likely course of his second. I refuse to vote for Barack Obama. Have you any deal-breakers?
Sure I do Conor, but even better, sometimes I have poems, and this one is from Charles Bukowski: a little atomic bomb
this one features beats: