The Americans are Weaponizing the Coronavirus Through Sanctions
By Darko Lazar
Hollywood actor and filmmaker Mel Gibson was once asked why he likes having Brits as the villains in his movies. He replied: "I wanted to give the Germans a break."
Although amusing, that sort of sentiment is unlikely to translate into policy when it comes to Washington’s modern-day foes. The Americans don’t give breaks to nations they haven’t conquered.
The onslaught of the coronavirus offered a unique opportunity for the US to test out new approaches towards countries that have been treated as enemies for generations. But Washington chose to double down on cruel and self-defeating strategies.
Unable to stave off mass suffering at home, the dysfunctional American government went to great lengths to weaponize the virus, fueling the incendiary spread of the disease in ‘rogue states’.
And while the mainstream media is eager to magnify Donald Trump’s profoundly stupid comments about injecting disinfectants, they haven’t covered the consequences of his foreign policy decisions with nearly as much fervor.
Blocking recourses needed to combat the pandemic
At the height of the pandemic in late March, the White House quietly cut tens of millions in dollars in funding for health care programs in Yemen.
The move left considerable funding gaps for dozens of UN programs in the war-torn country that were focused on supplying Yemenis with hand soap, medication and staffing clinics.
American officials justified the move by obliterating logic and claiming that it was a response to ‘interference’ from Yemen’s Ansarullah movement.
Already characterized as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, the war in Yemen has killed tens of thousands since 2015. Many of those that perished have succumbed to curable diseases.
That’s because the US-backed Saudi war effort in Yemen consists of a blockade, sanctions, and the frequent bombing of health facilities. These punishing tactics also spawned the deadliest cholera epidemic in modern history, serving as a tragic precursor to the potential impact of the coronavirus.
Washington’s ambition to use the coronavirus in order to cripple defiant nations is equally evident when it comes to Iran.
Even before the start of the pandemic, the Islamic Republic was already the most heavily sanctioned country in history. Several weeks into the coronavirus crisis, Iran was recording one death from COVID-19 every ten minutes.
The Trump administration responded to the suffering of the Iranian people by imposing a new set of sanctions, which targeted companies that build and maintain Shia holy sites. In the days that followed, Washington blocked an Iranian request for a USD 5 billion emergency loan from the IMF, which was earmarked for combating the pandemic.
Similarly, in Venezuela, where years of American sanctions have crippled the public health care system, the White House offered to ease the embargo if President Nicolas Maduro steps down.
Washington also felt that a raging pandemic was the right time to indict Maduro on a bizarre set of drug trafficking charges and offer USD 15 million to anyone who delivers him to the US.
The Americans dished out another million dollars to pay for surgical masks for “Israeli” troops patrolling occupied Palestinian territories.
In this corner of the Middle East, another US-backed campaign to blockade the Gaza Strip left Palestinian health officials pleading for more ventilators and beds for intensive care units.
The “Israeli”-enforced blockade on the Palestinian enclave, which dates back to 2007, continues to severely limit the entry of medical supplies, food, and even drinking water.
Although the coronavirus pandemic brought these unconscionably dangerous and cruel practices to the forefront, the devastating impact of American sanctions and economic blockades unfolds largely out of sight. Ignored by the mainstream media, these measures go both unnoticed and unchallenged.
Not surprisingly, perhaps, only a small percentage of the public actually realizes that the sanctions regimes are Washington’s most pervasive and brutal form of modern warfare. The effects are far more deadly than bombs.
By cutting off the possibility of a productive life and stunting the growth of millions of young people, sanctions wreck societies one household at a time.
There is never any real expiry date, and the gradual torment that slowly destroys entire generations doesn’t cost nearly as much as an actual military campaign.
Meanwhile, it rolls back decades of progress in industrial development, essential infrastructure, and, of course, healthcare services.
The coronavirus pandemic is only the latest reminder that American sanctions are effectively designed to target the elderly, the sick, and the most vulnerable segments of society.
These are not peaceful instruments that act as a substitute for diplomacy. They are tools of war used to punish all nations that refuse to submit to America’s will.
In 2000, the then-US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was asked if she thought that the death of half a million Iraqi children due to sanctions was a price worth paying. Albright replied: “We think the price is worth it."
Between the coronavirus pandemic and one-liners from ghoulish creatures like Albright, you may be forgiven for thinking that you are living in a Hollywood blockbuster. But if you were hoping to catch a break like the Germans in Mel Gibson’s movies, your rosy optimism will inevitably collide with a reality stage-managed by the US government that is a lot less compassionate.