Washington seems certain that exerting sanctions on countries is the safest way to achieve their foreign policy goals. In reality economic and political sanctions do little to control the governments they target, hitting ordinary citizens hard instead.
“The aim of sanctions is to harm the state. But the real
victims are ordinary, regular people. Experience has shown that
there’s a huge wedge between what ordinary people experience
under sanctions, and what the elite do,” RT’s Middle East
correspondent Paula Slier reported.
One country against which the US has introduced a wide range of
sanctions is Iran. While there’s no concrete proof that Tehran
has been busy developing nuclear weapons (it insists its atomic
program is for peaceful purposes only), due to international
sanctions, the country is struggling to source necessary medicine
to treat cancer patients.
Meanwhile, cancer is the third cause of premature death in Iran,
with 30,000 people a year now dying from the disease, according
Furthermore, a number of these people can ill afford increasingly
Widespread pollution, excessive use of chemical fertilizers
containing cadmium and nitrate, as well as the high psychological
pressure of life, have been blamed for the soaring cancer
“It is my second chemotherapy program. Previously, each
session cost approximately 300 dollars. These days it costs about
700 dollars,” pensioner Mahammad Rhidai, who is a cancer
patient, told RT. “It is also a challenge to get the
medication, because you have to go to almost every drugstore
asking for them and also because the prices are way too
Doctors are also sounding the alarm: the trade embargo has caused
shortages of food and medical supplies. The director of a cancer
center in Iran says he has faced lots of problems getting modern
equipment to treat cancer patients.
“There are numerous obstacles for importing the equipment due to the sanctions in place against Iran. We have some equipment but it requires spare parts that we can’t get anywhere. A failure of any single piece or part of this equipment causes us to stop operating the entire machine,” Dr. Kaziminyan said.
Iran is looking to reach out to the world’s powers to revive nuclear talks, in a bid to resolve the global standoff that has dragged on for years.
Ahead of his upcoming address to the UN General Assembly, the
country's new leader Hassan Rouhani pledged not to develop
nuclear weapons, demanding the West make concessions and ease the
“I urge my counterparts to seize the opportunity presented by
Iran’s recent election. I urge them to make the most of the
mandate for prudent engagement that my people have given me and
to respond genuinely to my government’s efforts to engage in
constructive dialogue. Most of all, I urge them to look beyond
the pines and be brave enough to tell me what they see — if not
for their national interests, then for the sake of their
legacies, and our children and future generations,” he wrote
in an opinion essay published in The Washington Post on September
In August, the president of Iran’s Academy of Medical Sciences
slammed Washington for exacting “sadistic” revenge on Iranian
children through their “inhuman sanctions” against the
“The applied sanctions have caused and will continue to cause acute shortages of necessary food and medicine,” Dr. Alireza Marandi wrote in a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.
“The sanctions are also making these essential items
increasingly more expensive. As a result, these indispensable
supplies have become inaccessible to the most vulnerable of
society, including children, mothers, and the elderly, as well as
disease-specific and cancer patients. This has literally stopped
many patients from being able to prepare or collect essential
medications required for their treatment; we are, therefore,
witnessing more and more cases of gradual malnutrition and death
of children and of patients with specific diseases,” he
Dr. Marandi noted that for over three decades, Iran implemented
successful healthcare plans and programs, backed by the World
Health Organization, which had “significantly improved the
overall health of the entire nation”.
“These achievements are now seriously threatened by the
escalation of barbaric sanctions in the past few weeks,
particularly by the US government,” he added.
Meanwhile, an expert in global financial markets, Patrick Young
argues that in the modern world we live in, any sanctions, even
the strictest ones, eventually prove useless.
“The issue with sanctions is that ultimately in an
inter-connected world where we have so much globalization, it’s
almost impossible for any country even for the hyper-power of the
United States of America to be able to successfully stop trade
and transaction to successfully happen with different countries.
Therefore the end result ultimately has only been to impoverish
ordinary citizens rather than really hitting the elite, or
ultimately actually endangering the hold-on power of the same
elite,” Young told RT.
He notes that the situation with sanctions being applied to any
country by the US is that the country in question seems to have
lost in the court of American public opinion.
“Therefore we see endlessly sanctions being applied to those
nations that are seen as being pariahs, whether that’s being
manipulated by political figures or not, and ultimately it causes
a problem for the American media who have been overall regarding
the idea that this country is in some way a threat to either
children or its citizens, or overall is precluding freedom and
democracy in that nation,” Mr Young added.
For instance, North Korea’s nuclear aspirations make the US feel uneasy, so the country has been slapped with trade and military restrictions. Although international relief organizations decried the sanctions as inhumane, restrictions still stay in place. Pyongyang has showed no sign of abandoning its nuclear program.
According to the British Medical Journal, as many as a million
people died from malnutrition-related causes in North Korea in
the 1990s, and the situation hasn’t improved much since then. The
reclusive nation’s economy is struggling to survive, and its
agriculture has suffered major blows from natural disasters.
Syria, too, has fallen foul of the United States. Trade and
economic restrictions on this middle-eastern country are adding
to the burden on an economy, already ravaged by a civil war that
has lasted for over two years. More than 100,000 people have been
killed in the conflict, according to UN Secretary General Ban
“Every day people there have to face not just the danger of
being killed by a stray bullet, but also the fear that they won’t
be able to put bread on the table: access to staple foods has
been curtailed by the trade restrictions, prices have
sky-rocketed, and life has turned into a struggle for
survival,” RT’s Irina Galushko added.
Cuba is another country against which Washington has implemented
its sanctions. No nukes here, just a six-decade association with
communism and as a result, no trade with the US. Many say the
country’s economy is floundering.
The embargo costs Cuba roughly $690 million a year. But the
losses for the US are between $1.2 and $3.6 billion annually.
But again, those affected are the most vulnerable in society,
particularly Cuba’s elderly, as the country has a rationing
system that gives preferential treatment to women and children.
“Those who have been hit hardest seem to be men and the elderly,” RT’s correspondent says.