More on Economic Sanctions
By David Henderson
Because discussion after about 12 hours on a given post tends to be ignored, I’m using this post to respond to some of the comments on my previous post.
Commenter Mike Rulle argues:
It is incorrect to say that people can wash their hands of responsibility for their government’s actions. They either are not willing to oppose injustice or are complicit in its creation.
This cannot be correct as, I think, an example will show. Take the Congress’s attempt to impose further control over health care and health insurance. I have opposed it with articles, appearances on talk shows, and speeches. Yet I am not responsible for what Congress does or complicit in its creation because I’m not a Senator or Representative. But let’s say I were a Senator or Representative. What if I argued against it, wrote articles against it, spoke on talk shows against it, and even voted against it. But I lost. In what sense can it reasonably be said that I’m not willing to oppose injustice or am complicit in its creation?
If you don’t like my example because you think this further government control is just, then choose your own example.
In his sentence immediately preceding the ones I quoted, Mike Rulle writes:
The people either implicitly or explicitly support their government.
This is false too, and the problem has to do with his use of the term “the people.” The vast majority of people probably do implicitly or explicitly support their government. And shame on them. But there is often a substantial minority that doesn’t.
But let’s go back to this vast majority. It’s precisely because they do support their government that my argument in my article holds. If a foreign government inflicts pain on them, then, whatever questioning of their own government’s actions would have occurred, there will be less of it and more of a coming together to oppose the foreigner. That’s why I asked the reader to imagine that a foreign government imposes sanctions on us because it’s upset with what one of our unpopular presidents does. Some commenters obliged by saying that they would give the finger to the foreign government that did that. That’s precisely my point.
Interestingly, even the Wall Street Journal editorial page, which tends to be quite hawkish and whose lead editorial today says, quite rightly, that there is a “peoples’ [sic] revolt” in Iran, doesn’t make the case that the people involved in this revolt want the U.S. government and others to cut off their supply of gasoline.
Update: I didn’t add, because I thought it would be obvious, that dissident Iranians don’t want sanctions. But a comment below made me realize that I should have added it. Here’s the link.