Trump should lift sanctions on Iran, for both moral and diplomatic reasons.

U.S. President Donald J. Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)Iranian Presidency Office via AP)U.S. President Donald J. Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (AP Photo/Evan Vucci/Iranian Presidency Office via AP/Composite America Media)

President Trump displayed laudable prudence when he walked back an “ordered strike” on military targets in Iran on June 20, after an unmanned U.S. drone was shot down. That makes it all the more regrettable that the Trump administration’s imposition of tougher economic sanctions appears to lack this same consideration.

The new round of sanctions on Iran, along with re-established ones, are crippling the Iranian economy. Inflation has risen to more than 37 percent, and the Iranian rial has fallen by around 70 percent since early 2018. Many Iranians now worry about the availability of food and lifesaving medicines as a result. Economic sanctions can have consequences that are just as tragic as those of military action. For example, 576,000 Iraqi children died prematurely in the five years following economic sanctions imposed by the United Nations in 1990. Economic sanctions can also nudge societies toward devastating overuse of land and energy resources.

Advertisement

Economic sanctions are not intrinsically immoral; in the past they have discouraged military force and leveraged negotiations for peace. But as the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church instructs, if economic sanctions are used, it must be with “great discernment” and subject to “strict legal and ethical criteria.” Ethicists and diplomats have argued that for sanctions to be moral, they must have minimal impact on average civilians, especially the vulnerable. For any sanctions, moral or otherwise, to be effective, they need to be structured in accordance with clearly defined objectives.

Current sanctions on Iran do not meet these criteria. If the purpose of the sanctions regime is to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, the president would need to reconsider his decision to withdraw from the painstakingly negotiated Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. That agreement, supported by Pope Francis and the U.S. bishops, had halted nuclear-weapons-grade uranium enrichment in Iran. There are signs that the agreement is salvageable. Iran’s foreign minister has said that Iran would return to abiding by the agreement if other countries did the same.

If, however, the goal of these new sanctions is to diminish Iran’s influence, they require further consideration and clear explanation. Reducing Iran’s regional influence and support for terrorist organizations is a defensible goal. But if recent decades have taught us anything, it is that U.S. actions in the Middle East can have unintended and deadly consequences. Well-intentioned but unrealistic goals prevent a flexible framework necessary for incremental relief, essential for bringing countries to the negotiating table. Without a reasonable chance that sanctions will succeed, the United States risks engaging in an unending financial war with Iran that could slip into a military one at the slightest provocation.

The United States can save lives, reduce the risk of escalation into war and increase its chances of stopping Iran from building a nuclear bomb by lifting this latest round of sanctions.

[Want to discuss politics with other America readers? Join our Facebook discussion group, moderated by America’s writers and editors.]

J. Calpezzo
1 week 1 day ago

But Trump has no moral compass. Too much time with Jeffrey Epstein and Stewart Rahr.

John Rysavy
1 week ago

The Editors are now diplomacy experts?

Vincent Gaglione
1 week ago

Well said.

Jeffrey More
1 week ago

Thank God the editors of this magazine do not have a role in guiding United States foreign policy, and thank God our State Department does not conduct foreign policy using the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church as guidance. The editors are living in cloud cuckoo land if they think the JCPOA will make Iran curtail its nuclear ambitions; bringing Iran to its knees economically just might do it, and without the need for any military action.

J Cosgrove
1 week ago

The Iranian leadership is one of the most immoral ones in the world. They will not use their available financial resources for their people but for war making capability. Why the threat to develop a bomb as a response? That is where they will focus instead of feeding and medicating their people. Anyone believe they will respond to reason?

Fernando Vásquez
1 week ago

The inmorality of these Trumpians is appalling. Killing, murdering, starving, arresting and placing children in concentration camps....are we to accept and keep silent? Trump & his wveil gang need to be prosecuted by the International Court of Justice for crimes against humanity, they are no different than the Nazi scum the Allies tried and hanged at Nuremberg

James Schwarzwalder
1 week ago

The Senate of the United States never ratified the deal the Obama Administration made with Iran. Why does no one acknowledge this? A recent article in America lamented the very poor record Congress has in getting legislation passed. So why ignore that Congress has a Constitutional responsibility to ratify treaties? I myself don't think Iran wants a war with the US, but Iran has no trouble supplying terrorists all over the Middle East. Trump inherited many serious problems from the Obama Administration and is addressing many. You just may not like his approach or strategies. Well, show up and vote in 2020.

Gabriel Marcella
1 week ago

Economic sanctions are not an effective tool of diplomacy. The historical record proves it. They are often applied for domestic political reasons, to allow an administration to look tough, when in fact it may not be able able to use military force. Sanctions can hurt the people in the targeted country, without really hurting those who hold power. Some examples: US economic sanctions hurt the Haitian people and helped drive away foreign investment and created more unemployment in the 1990s . Similarly, sanctions hurt the Panamanian people in the run up to the US invasion of 1989. Targeted sanctions applied to individuals or group (such as leaders in Venezuela) can deprive them of some cash, but these people normally have access to money, regardless of sanctions. Because of globalization sanctioned governments have access to alternate sources of money and trade. So why does Washington keep doing this? Because of domestic politics, misreading or neglecting the historical record.

Oz Jewel
6 days 19 hours ago

The land of the Persians is today occupied by 95% Shia Muslims.
In Islam, there is a word which non-Muslims incorrectly think is the same as the concept of "truce". Pagans and Christians and others understand a truce is an agreed cease-fire allowing arrangements for a permanent peace.
The Arabic meaning is not the same - it is a cease-fire of convenience to a Muslim so he can have a rest, heal the wounded, re-supply and then back to the jihad!
The Western press are chronically ignorant of this, or deliberately misrepresent it in favour of the Islamic forces involved, think "Palestine cease-fire"'s - how many, how lasting, ever?

No influence on earth except force, strong force implemented by a determined leader, is capable of stopping a planned an wilful course of action as exemplified by this one pursued by this Ayatollah.
Think Charles the Hammer and the gates of Vienna.

Unless the rank and file Iranians explicitly reject and refuse what he is doing, they are guilty and are thus not innocent civilians.

Diplomacy useless, population not innocent victims.

.

rose-ellen caminer
3 days 3 hours ago

"Occupied by Shia Muslims?They are Shia Muslims[predominantly].Like the people of North Vietnam WERE communists. They are guilty of what exactly?Of being Muslim? That's Anti Semitism; 21st century kind. If that is your belief, if that should be our policy ; no Iranian man ,woman or child is innocent by virtue of being Muslim [ innocent of what? ] then they are truly defending themselves,and there is no legitimate moral complaint against them when they fight in Iraq or Afghanistan against US.They are defending themselves and other Muslim people .

But remember, this attitude of yours was exactly the attitude many had in the build up to the invasion of Iraq. No one signed up because they suddenly loved Muslims so much they wanted to liberate them from tyrannical rulers like Saddam Hussein.[in fact many like you hate them so much they support the holocaust against them taking place in Syria] .Anti Muslim haters had visions of turning the place into a parking lot, and many signed up to go kill em all, or as many as they could get away with after 9-11 .But remember many came back, if not physically wounded, then feeling betrayed that this genocidal promise made to their hearts in the buildup to that war [never stated outright by the war mongers in government or media,but implied] never materialized."Our hands were tied!", is that lament the anti Muslim haters ,use to complain that those Muslims are still there,in Iraq,Afghanistan and everywhere;a billion of em, and they fought back. AND if that is not bad enough for the Muslim haters ,you know that if you lay a hand on one here YOU get charged with a crime.
So keep spreading your anti Muslim genocidal hate,It did not pan out against Sunnis, [ though we are guilty of war crimes including religious cleansing of Baghdad; we murdered all the Sunnis of Baghdad and installed a Shia/Kurd only government with a green light to persecute all the Sunni Iraqis]and it won't pan out against Shia Iranians either.You'll be left once again with your ptsd'd opioid addicted depression [anger really]that you felt betrayed by, if not your own military/government, then your own, thwarted genocidal fantasies. Dem Muslims are still there![lol]

Judith Jordan
3 days ago

Oz Jewel---
You made this statement, “Pagans and Christians and others understand a truce is an agreed cease-fire allowing arrangements for a permanent peace.” You imply that Pagans and Christians have a higher moral standard of maintaining their agreements. Please remember within Germany, a Christian nation, arose the philosophy of the Nazis savages who continually violated arrangements and murdered millions of people.

Kevin Murphy
6 days 18 hours ago

I wouldn't use the Pope's and Bishop's support of a position as a plus.

Eugene Fitzpatrick
6 days 10 hours ago

Iran is an obtrusive impediment to the American Empire’s need to control the world and to snuff out any political entity that fails to bow low, very low, before the Empire’s unremitting avarice. The American corporate state instructs its clueless populace to demonize Iran and like good little sheeple they go about doing it with their ignorance-drenched rhetoric such as manifested in several of the commentaries associated with this article. It’s just like the prescient George Orwell said it would be; just as Chomsky and Hermann laid out in their 1988 treatise Manufacturing Consent.

Mike Macrie
6 days 10 hours ago

The goal of the Trump Administration and the Israeli Government is to provoke Iran into Nuclear Expansion to justify a US Military Strike on Iran’s Nuclear Facilities. Israel had plans to launch their second Military Strike on Iran’s Nuclear Facilities prior to the Trump Administration coming to Office. Israel would love to have the US do it to avoid them from being the Aggressor in the Middle East.
If Trump strikes Iran, it will turn the Middle East into the total chaos with Iran striking a soft target Iraq and rocket attacks into Israel.
It’s time to negotiate before it’s too late.

Stanley Kopacz
6 days 9 hours ago

If you have nukes like North Korea, the President of the United States of America will walk twenty steps to kiss your behind. The most prudent move for Iran is to build nukes so that they can get some respect. They know that agreements with the United States are worthless especially with a practiced welcher in charge. All God's chillun' got nukes. We got 'em. We love 'em.

Advertisement

The latest from america

The role of caring for elderly family members is increasingly falling to mid-life adults. (iStock/kali9)
We can honor our parents by supporting a paid family leave program, one that is not limited to raising children but also recognizes the growing financial and physical burdens of caring for elderly family members.
Amy ZiettlowJuly 17, 2019
Fast food makes only one promise. That it is fast. Christ promises to feed us with food that will last.
Terrance KleinJuly 17, 2019
From left, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., respond to remarks by President Donald Trump after his call for the four Democratic congresswomen to go back to their "broken" countries, during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, July 15, 2019. All are American citizens and three of the four were born in the U.S.
The Editors: These comments need to be called out as racist, xenophobic and sexist.
The EditorsJuly 16, 2019
People wait to apply for asylum in the United States along the border on July 16 in Tijuana, Mexico. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
“It is contrary to American and Christian values to attempt to prevent people from migrating here when they are fleeing to save their lives and to find safety for their families,” Cardinal DiNardo said.
Kevin ClarkeJuly 16, 2019