Resolution 2020-04 End Economic Sanctions by the United States

Whereas the United States is imposing economic sanctions on several countries and on numerous individuals, and

Whereas the primary purpose of most, if not all, of the sanctions is to compel other countries to conform to the will of the United States, and

Whereas the United States should not attempt to impose its will on other countries, and

Whereas sanctions cause severe hardship to the people living in targeted countries, and

Whereas the sanctions invite animosity from the people of other countries toward the United States and the people of the United States,

Therefore Be It Resolved that Veterans for Peace calls for an end to the use of economic sanctions, including, but not limited to, sanctions directed at Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria, and Venezuela, and urges all VFP members and local chapters to send a copy of this resolution to their respective Members of Congress.

 

Submitted by William Stansbery, VFP member


 

Board and Committee:

Resolutions Committee Recommendation:  Appropriate and Approved
Board of Directors Recommendation:  Appropriate and Approved

Convention Floor Vote:

Pro: 98 No: 62 Abstain: 20


 

*Please note that comments are open but due to the high nature of spam in the comments the comment is approved by a moderator.  All comments that are not spam will be posted.  All comments will be approved within 24 hours of submitting.

Pro Statement:

The proposed resolution calls for an end to economic sanctions that are imposed on other countries by the United States.  The overall point of the resolution is that the United States should not attempt to impose its will on the world and that the sanctions cause hardship on the people of the targeted countries.

Reasonable comments were made in opposition to the resolution at the VFP convention and have been made on the webpage at https://www.veteransforpeace.org/2020ballot/2020-04.

One comment would allow sanctions that are not unilateral sanctions.  In response, it can be argued that even when other countries join with the United States in imposing sanctions, the United States is the main force behind the sanctions.  Some countries are under pressure to follow the lead of the United States and are not acting independently.

Another comment is that sanctions are a nonviolent alternative to military intervention in some circumstances.  In response, I point out that the consequences of sanctions can be similar to the consequences of military intervention, with the harm and death occurring slowly rather than in one burst.  Also, most if not all past interventions by the United States, whether militarily or through sanctions, have been for the purpose of promoting or maintaining the dominance of the United States, and not for the purpose of promoting the welfare of any people.

A comment expresses support for increased sanctions recently imposed on Syria, stating that the sanctions are against leaders who have committed war crimes and that the sanctions allow exceptions for food, medicine, and humanitarian assistance.  A counter argument is that the humanitarian exceptions work poorly, it at all, and that there are few real exceptions for Syria or any other sanctioned country.  Even if the sanctions are carefully targeted against leaders and do not significantly affect the population, there is still the question of whether the United States should try to determine what happens in other countries. 

Commenters have pointed out instances in which economic sanctions have been used or could be used for good ends — the ending of the apartheid government in South Africa and the possible use in the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign directed at Israel.  

United States sanctions against Israel are a long way off.  Before sanctioning Israel, the United States would surely discontinue the yearly military aid to Israel.  It is also likely that the United States would change its tax laws or its tax enforcement practices so that donations to organizations that support Israeli settlements in the West Bank would no longer be tax deductible.  And it is likely that the United States would no longer offer strong diplomatic support for Israel at the United Nations and elsewhere.  If all those things should happen, then the question could arise as to economic sanctions against Israel.  And, in that event, there should be no sanctions.  The sanctions would be an attempt by the United States to impose its will on Israel and the sanctions would impose hardship on the people in Israel and the area controlled by Israel.  Individuals could still boycott any country and divest from investment in any country.

The sanctions imposed on South Africa in the 1980s were a factor, maybe a dominant factor, in the end of apartheid.  That weighs against a blanket condemnation of all sanctions.  But the purposes of the sanctions currently imposed by the United States on other countries bear no resemblance to the purpose of ending apartheid in South Africa.

Procedures do not allow for amendment of the resolution.  Even if amendments could be made, it would be difficult to make them without making the resolution ambiguous and creating holes through which harmful sanctions could emerge.

I respectfully ask that the resolution be approved.

William Stansbery, VFP member at large

 

Con Statement: 

The wording for this resolution was confusing, and caused many folks to vote against it. Those voting against the resolution noted that the Boycott, Divest and Sanction movement is asking people to enforce economic sanctions against Israel, and that the anti-apartheid movement organized sanctions against South Africa in the past.

by Patrick McCann


 

 

Comments:

This resolution is far too broad and should be opposed.  Sanctions can be seen in some cases as a non-violent alternative to military intervention.  Indeed there are cases where VFP members have and would continue to support sanctions. The Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986 was a law enacted by the United States Congress. The law imposed sanctions against South Africa and stated five preconditions for lifting the sanctions that would essentially end the system of apartheid. Those US imposed sanctions worked and helped the successful, and essentially non violent effort to overthrow the apartheid regime in South Africa. There is currently a worldwide effort, called the BDS movement to impose sanctions on the State of Israel for its oppression of the Palestinian people.  Many VFP members are participating in the BDS movement and are pressuring the US government to formally participate as well. Finally a word needs to be said about the specific inclusion of Syria in the list of nations in the resolution.  VFP unfortunately has a less than honorable history regarding the nine year conflict in Syria.  Our former national president, Gerry Condon, visited Syria, praised and drank tea with the murderous dictator Bashar al-Assad at the very time Assad was dropping barrel bombs on civilian targets in Aleppo, literally burying children alive in the rubble of their bombed homes.  VFP resolutions calling for ALL parties,including the US and Russia to stop military intervention in Syria have failed under the lame excuse that Russia was "iinvited" to make war in Syria.  The US sanctions against Syria under the recently passed "Caesar Act" specifically targets the Syrian government officials and business leaders who have committed war crimes. It very specifically makes strong exceptions for food, medicine and humanitarian assistance.   In summary this resolution is far too broad and poorly written. Sanctions as a non-violent alternative can have a rightful place  in international relations.  The resolution should be voted down.
Posted by Andrew Berman on
My Brother, Andrew Berman's comment is well-thought & factual. I too, ask to have this resolution defeated/voted down for the stated reasons.
 
Posted by Duane Teschller on
Unilateral sanctions and the extraterritorial application of national legislation violate the legal equality of States, and principles of respect for and dignity of national sovereignty and nonintervention in the internal affairs of the State. Application of unilateral sanctions violates basic principles of the UN Charter and certain other important legal instruments. It imposes suffering and deprivation on innocent citizens of other countries, including mass human rights violations, and deprives them of their right to development and self-determination.  From the book Economic Sanctions in International Law.
 
Unless and until the United States government is in compliance with international law, it does not possess the moral high ground.  I strongly support this resolution as stated.
 
 
Posted by Charles Dunaway on
This is a complicated issue. However, I generally aggree with calling for the end of economic sanctions, which essentially is "war without bombs and bullets." Those in power in a sanctioned country will take what they "need" and more, to the detriment of those without power. People suffer, not those in power. Better for the US to be generous. Give aid to all countries who need it in the form or medical supplies and food, for example, but do it directly to the the people without the intermediary of corporations and the corruption that occurs with that method. Not easily done, but maybe something to strive for.
Posted by Richard Czaplinski, Chapter 57 on
US sanctions are a form of economic warfare and collective punishment. I strongly support this resolution.
For a good case study see  https://cepr.net/report/economic-sanctions-as-collective-punishment-the-case-of-venezuela/
Posted by rick Sterling on
I am opposed to the Resolution was written due to ambiguities within the text of the body. There are many uses of economic sanctions, some are utile, i.e., South Africa's Arpithied Policies and other similar events where they were taken in concert with other allied nations. When the United States acts unilaterally, it becomes an act of punitive statesmanship without international standing. I would like to vote this down because the Resolution needs the following revision: Whereas the United States is imposing economic sanctions both unilaterally with allies and not on several countries and on numerous individuals, and. Whereas the United States should not attempt to impose its will on other countries without the consensus of the international community, and Whereas sanctions cause severe hardship to the people living in targeted countries, and Whereas when the United States acts without the support of other nations, those sanctions invite animosity from the people of other countries toward the United States and the people of the United States, Therefore Be It Resolved that Veterans for Peace calls for an end to the use of economic sanctions, including, but not limited to, sanctions directed at Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria, and Venezuela, and urges all VFP members and local chapters to send a copy of this resolution to their respective Members of Congress. I humbly submit this to my brothers and sisters for their consideration.
Posted by David B. Wright, RT R on
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