Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar believes the United States should stop imposing sanctions on other countries.
Omar said in an op-ed with the Washington Post that the U.S. government, including policymakers on both sides of the aisle, are too quick to impose sanctions as a solution to more complex problems.
Pointing to the immediate reaction from the Turkish invasion of Northern Syria, Omar said: “Congress’s bipartisan condemnation of the Turkish incursion, Republicans and Democrats alike have jumped to pursuing one policy response: harsh sanctions.”
Omar supported her argument by noting sanctions against Iran and Venezuela have failed to alter the ideologies or policies of their respective governments. She described the sanction implementation as “ill-considered, incoherent and counterproductive.”
These sanctions, she argues, “rarely achieve their desired goals” and often “hurt the people of a country — generally the very people we’re purporting to help — without making a dent in the country’s behavior.”
“Both of these cases point to a larger problem. Too often, U.S. policymakers are quick to place sanctions on regimes we disagree with, without considering the likelihood of success or the humanitarian consequences,” Omar argued.
“And, in the case of human rights abusers, research suggests that more abuses typically occur with economic sanctions in place than without them,” she continued per the op-ed.
The sanctions have simultaneously strengthened the Iranian regime’s credibility at home and united human rights activists and the Iranian leadership in opposition to the strategy. One dire effect of the sanctions has been an entirely preventable shortage of life-saving medicine. A group of Iranian women’s rights activists recently wrote, “While sanctions proponents claim to care for the Iranian people, their policies have left an entire nation weary, depressed and hopeless. Sanctions, and economic pressure, target the fabric of society.”
The same backward logic was applied to Venezuela, where the Trump administration intended to squeeze Nicolás Maduro out of power through increasingly sweeping sanctions on the state oil company and then the central bank — only to find itself involved in an intractable crisis that risks descending into civil war.
There’s no question that the bulk of the economic crisis in Venezuela was caused by Maduro’s government, which inherited fixable problems and failed to address them. But U.S. sanctions have worsened Venezuela’s economic disaster — and handed Maduro a propaganda victory. He can now shift blame to the United States, while retaining his grip on power.
What Omar failed to mention in her op-ed, the Western Journal notes, is that she has been a constant supporter of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.
“I think the opportunity to boycott, divest, sanction is the kind of pressure that leads to that peaceful process,” she reportedly said to CBS in September.
And, from the Western Journal:
She has often said that BDS should be supported because it is non-violent.
“We are introducing a resolution … to really speak about the American values that support and believe in our ability to exercise our First Amendment rights in regard to boycotting,” Omar said in July regarding a pro-BDS resolution in the House, according to U.S. News & World Report. “And it is an opportunity for us to explain why it is we support a nonviolent movement, which is the BDS movement.”
In assessing Omar’s role in the BDS movement, Minnesota-based WCCO reported, “Omar is now the face of the movement to Boycott, Divest, and Sanction Israel until it ends its occupation of the Palestinian West Bank.”
In that context, commentators have noted that Omar’s Washington Post piece shows the extent of her opposition to Israel.
“Omar’s latest piece of literature reveals the depth to which Omar holds Israel as more deserving of punishing policy moves than say, North Korea, Sudan, or Iran,” wrote Erielle Davidson in The Federalist.
The Western Journal reports Omar’s dedication to BDS while simultaneously arguing against sanctioning Iran was highlighted by commentator Daniella Greenbaum Davis of Forward, a pro-Jewish publication.
She said, “Sanctions for Israel but no one else seems to be the standard for the Minnesota congresswoman.”
“The Minnesota congresswoman is eager to portray herself as a true progressive, a liberal who seeks to right wrongs around the world, serving the underdog and speaking truth to power. In reality, she is not an equal opportunity liberal. Some minorities are more worthy of protection in her calculus, some ostensible villains more deserving of condemnation than others,” Davis added.