Much of what determines the shape of global politics is hinged on the dictates of the United States of America. A country that has vehemently and aggressively defended the capitalist way of doing things, it is inimical to any country that decides to chart its course of doing things.
What happens in every country on Earth should at least be beneficial to the interests of the US. When a country decides to do what is not in the liking of the US, a weapon called sanctions is deployed against it.
Economic sanctions, for the longest time in history, have been employed as a brutal tool to compel countries to act in line with what is considered politically healthy. Sanctions have had the effect of crippling economies and making the lives of people extremely difficult.
For the United States, sanctions have been a favorite tool as far as desiring regime change is concerned. The interests of the US find space in every corner of the world, for they managed to become the biggest economic power in the world. Only recently has China been able to catch up with the US and give it a serious competition but even as though that may be, the economic and political influence of the US can be felt in every part of the world.
As such, the US has never been interested in applying economic sanctions against certain countries for genuinely good and righteous purposes. It is mainly to ensure that US interests are not harmed by the activities of that particular country. They use the pretext of vague concepts such as democracy and human rights.
While it may be true that these concepts are not applied in the interests of people in those countries, the US goes overboard so that their economic interests are thrust in danger. So, they may hide under the guise of democracy and human rights but in reality, all they desire is regime change so that their deeply entrenched economic interests are not attacked.
History is replete with examples where the US has continuously meddled in the internal affairs of other countries in a bid to implement regime change. The example of Iran brings this point to the fore. The US is the only country in the world that takes an interest in what happens in each country. If a country decides to take on its path which the US finds “dangerous,” then it becomes a certainty that sanctions are to put on that country.
Iran has battled US sanctions for simply rejecting the American way of doing things in its own country. Iran has faced American sanctions simply because it found its way back to its Islamic roots, where it rejected strongly leaders who were American puppets. This Iranian way of doing things meant that the US no longer had access to the vast supplies of Iranian oil and what better way to punish them than to impose economic sanctions on them?
In 1953, Iran’s then democratically elected leader Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadeq had sought to nationalize Iran's oil. The British and the Americans saw this as damaging their economic interests in Iran which were mostly reliant on Iran’s oil. The American CIA took the matter into their own hands and through a coup, ousted Mossadeq from power in that year and installed the Shah of Iran, Mohammed Reza Pahlevi as their puppet leader.
In 1979, Iranians rose up in tremendous unison to demonstrate against the Shah’s rule and he was forced into exile. Religious rule was then restored when the Islamic Republic of Iran was proclaimed on the 1st of April. This did not go down with the United States and in November 1979, President Carter imposed the first illegal economic sanctions against Iran which froze about $12 billion in Iranian assets, including bank deposits, gold, and other properties. From there, sanctions kept being enforced on Iran, much to the detriment of the Iranian citizens.
The origin of the sanctions is Iran is a clear attestation to the fact that when a country goes a divergent route with the US, citizens suffer as sanctions do not affect the lives of the ruling class.
America pursues an unrelentingly toxic zeal when inflicting sanctions. Sanctions on Iran continue being imposed up to this day, and the more Iran disagrees with the US, the more sanctions are thrown on it. It also means the more its citizens suffer.
Another issue aggravating sanctions on Iran is that of nuclear energy. The US, together with its allies in the West, are fully armed with nuclear weapons. But when other countries decide to do it, deals must be negotiated and if deals are absent, sanctions become a reliable substitute. The hypocrisy is beyond alarming and shocking.
In 2015, President Rouhani agreed to a nuclear deal so that sanctions would be lifted. The deal severely cut Iran’s capacity to be involved in nuclear energy. What is crystal-clear is that the US wields its economic supremacy to dictate what other countries should do or not do.
Donald Trump has reneged on the deal and the tensions remain strongly palpable. The US sanctions still target the country’s energy, financial and shipping sectors – all-important for the survival of its citizens. Trump exclaimed that sanctions on Iran are “intended to bring Iran's oil exports to zero, denying the regime its principal source of revenue".
Their hatred for the regime is affecting the citizens in terms of rising inflation, a weak currency, rising cost of living, hardships for foreign Iranian students and the discontent in the citizens signals a population that is suffering under the biting effect of American sanctions.
It is not only Iran that is suffering from the draining US economic sanctions. And it is not only Iran feeling the pressure of regime change. Countries such as Venezuela, Cuba, and Zimbabwe have suffered under American sanctions. They have suffered from choosing to go the other way that lacks “democratic principles.” In Zimbabwe, sanctions were imposed after the Mugabe-led administration implemented the Land Reform program that saw white farmers losing their land, without compensation, to the black majority.
At that time, colonial imbalances meant that the vast majority of blacks did not have real access and real rights to the means of production; white farmers owned about 70% of the land when they were just a minority. Sanctions by America, which still stand to this day, have meant that the average Zimbabwean suffers acutely from economic hardships. This is compounded by the incompetence of the ruling elite, but the effects of sanctions cannot be understated
For the longest time too, Cuba was under grave sanctions for choosing not to be a capitalist country. They suffered for that. Sanctions against countries like Venezuela and Iran are ceaselessly renewed and applied with much vigor, but what happens to the ordinary man on the streets? What happens when others are told not to trade in oil with Venezuela, knowing very well that such resources are the bloodlines of those countries?
Sanctions hardly affect the politicians. Their political intentions are not felt for those whom they are targeted. But the economic consequences are dire for the citizens. Sanctions, for America, have always been a tool for regime change and because of their adverse effects on the ordinary people who may not invest much into the political happenings of their country, they have been a very evil tool.