“Commerce and Honest Friendship”

Thomas Jefferson famously said, “I deem [one of] the essential principles of our government [to be] peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none.” If only the foreign policy wonks in Washington had heeded to Mr. Jefferson’s advice, the United States would not be trying to starve Iran into submission. Or fight a “War on Terror.” Or maintain an empire. Unfortunately, Washington has turned a deaf ear to Jefferson’s wisdom. Those listening to Jefferson are not in the marble palaces of DC, but in the Kremlin and Beijing. 

Sanctions do not work. This coming October marks the 50th anniversary of sanctions against Cuba. The Castro family is still having their annual birthday bashes, throwing dissidents in prison, and trampling on the rights of Cubans. Regime change was and still is the goal of the embargo (“The United States cooperated with its European and other allies to assist the difficult transitions from Communist regimes in Eastern Europe. Therefore, it is appropriate for those allies to cooperate with United States policy to promote a peaceful transition in Cuba.”) However, the “peaceful transition” never came — nor will it unless a new course is taken.

Sanctions do little to no harm to those in power. Fidel and Raul still live extravagantly while their subjects are dressed in rags scrounging around for scraps. The burden falls on the everyday man, woman, and child. Realizing that the US is to blame, ordinary Cubans rise up in support of the Castro regime whose “generous” social programs have helped sustain them through the rough times. The embargo has fueled hatred towards those imposing them and inspired unity with the ruling regime to fight  the foreign force. Rather than delivering a blow to the regime, sanctions deliver a much needed boost. If crippling sanctions are placed on Iran, the “Green Movement” may very well focus its anger on America. This would be a huge setback and (hopefully) the most damning piece of evidence against sanctions ever.

Russia and China, as strange as it sounds, are embracing Jefferson’s foreign policy much to the chagrin of the US. America, on the other hand, is embracing the Russian and Chinese model of global dominance. Oh, how the tables have turned. 

Contrary to the doomsayers, Iran does not have a nuclear weapon. Nor is it capable of building an arsenal comparable to the US. Nor is it trigger happy. Nor is it going to “wipe Israel off of the map” (For a thorough debunking of that wrongly quoted phrase, read here.) Iran is, however, terrified of the US and Israel, and threatened by the numerous vitriolic attacks launched each day.

There is a remedy to this situation. And no, it does not involve bombing Iran back to the stone age, starving the Iranians into submission, or permanently ostracizing Iran from global politics. It involves “commerce and honest friendship.” If Iran was to start trading with the US, a healthy and robust economic relationship would surely develop. As crazy as the Holocaust-denying Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is, he loves money. Everybody loves money. Trade is the missing link to the whole equation. If Iran is not trading with the US, what problem, besides assured destruction, would it have with bombing America? After all, there is no money or cozy trading relationships to be lost. On the contrary, if Iran was a trading partner of the US, the financial carnage would be huge. “Honest friendship” merely follows commerce. No one is going to do business with a cheat. Therefore, honesty really is the best policy. 

Russia and China have both realized the absurdity of embargoes. As the two countries grow rich off of trading with Iran, the US loses a great deal of market potential. That is why China has defiantly said no to US ordered sanctions.  The duo is interested in talking to Iran while the US prefers only to shout and hear nothing. 

China and Russia are sitting comfortably and growing rich. America is paranoid over a third world country and not making any money. Any guesses as to who got it right?

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