MAKING THE PANDEMIC WORSE: By punishing vulnerable people, Trump's policy of 'maximum pressure' is undermining efforts to fight COVID-19.

AuthorKelly, Kathy

During the United States' 1991 "Desert Storm" war against Iraq, I was part of the Gulf Peace Team-at first, living in a "peace camp" set up near the Iraq-Saudi border. We found an abandoned typewriter, attached a lit candle so that we could see (the United States had destroyed Iraq's electrical stations, and most of the hotel rooms were pitch black), and, in lieu of a typewriter ribbon, placed a sheet of red carbon paper over our stationery.

Iraqi authorities, lacking a functioning typewriter of their own, asked us to type their letter to Javier Perez de Cuellar, the secretary-general of the United Nations, imploring him to prevent the United States from bombing a road between Iraq and Jordan, the only way out for refugees and the only way in for humanitarian relief.

Now, in 2020, Iraqis still suffering from impoverishment, displacement, and war earnestly want the United States to practice "physical distance" and leave their country.

Meanwhile, U.S. sanctions against Iran, which the Trump Administration has cruelly strengthened, continue to collectively punish extremely vulnerable people. The United States' current "maximum pressure" policy severely undermines Iranian efforts to cope with the ravages of COVID-19, causing hardship and tragedy while contributing to the global spread of the disease.

On March 12, Iran's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, urged member states of the United Nations to end the United States' unconscionable and lethal economic warfare. Addressing U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Zarif's letter detailed how U.S. economic sanctions prevent Iranians from importing necessary medicine and medical equipment.

While the world experiences sweeping transformation and bold new questions, United States foreign policy has stubbornly "stayed the course," continuing the divisive, corrosive policies of a permanent warfare state. The recent decision to tighten economic sanctions against Iran shows a U.S. foreign policy staunchly predicated on threat and force.

IRONICALLY, THE TRUMP Administration's policy of "maximum pressure" against Iran actually helps spread "the invisible enemy"--COVID-19--as economic sanctions undermine Iran's capacity to tackle the new coronavirus.

On March 19, Iran's health ministry said the coronavirus was killing one Iranian every ten minutes and infecting fifty more people each hour. On the same day, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blacklisted twelve international companies for doing...

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