When the United States and its Western European allies declare war or drop bombs on another country, it is not uncommon for progressive-minded individuals to collectively organize some kind of protest out of anger.
When the same imperialist power launches “sanctions”, so-called “economic warfare,” against another country, the magnitude of the response is not always the same – not because of lack of attention, but largely because of lack of Understand what economic sanctions are and how they work.
The book Sanctions: Wrecking Balls in the Global Economy brilliantly explains that sanctions and economic blockades are as harmful to Earth’s population as any drone strike or human-to-human battle. This book is published by the World View Forum and the SanctionsKill Campaign, a radical project in which the International Action Center is actively involved. Sanctions is a collection of articles written by veteran anti-imperialist activists and revolutionary organizers who know the subject and its brutal consequences for more than 40 sanctioned countries.
The book opens with a dramatic update. The economic sanctions imposed by the US on Russia and China are already having an impact on the US and EU economies, causing supply chain disruption, inflation and a possible recession, and threatening US hegemony. To avoid sanctions, the Global South is using other currencies in world trade—renminbi, rubles, and rupees. This challenges the hegemony of the dollar.
The first part begins with teaching tools, providing slide-style images and basic definitions, explaining that “sanctions are commercial and economic penalties imposed by one or more countries on another government, group, or individual” and are “weapons of economic warfare” that lead to Chronic shortages of basic necessities, economic dislocation, hyperinflation, man-made famines, disease and poverty. Those who suffer the most are the most vulnerable. “The impact on Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua is a particular focus.
Like imperialist wars, economic sanctions are driven by capitalist greed and are often directed against state, government, and individual leaders who challenge neoliberal, Western hegemonic policies. Readers learn that “sanctions make people unable to afford basic necessities by destroying economies, causing hyperinflation and unemployment.” Sanctions not only deny the need for states to enforce; they interrupt trade with other wreaking havoc with the crowd.
Sanctions hurt and oppress the global working class
The second part of the book details the countries subject to U.S.-led sanctions, starting with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. North Korea is the most demonized country in the world and, as Erica Jung points out, “is one of the most sanctioned countries in the world, having been sanctioned since its founding in 1950”. Jung describes how the United States initially placed it on the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism in 1988.
An article by Ann Garrison and John Philpot discusses how many African countries are facing outright retribution for building a decades-long relationship with Russia that persists 30 years after the anti-Soviet counter-revolution.
Garrison and Philpot point out how the U.S. House of Representatives passed HR 7311, dubbed the “Combating Russian Malicious Activities in Africa Act,” in April 2022, a resolution in 17 African countries to the United Nations condemning Russian meddling Retaliation after abstention. Eritrea proudly voted against.
Almost all countries in the southern hemisphere oppose U.S. sanctions on Russia. That, as US President Joe Biden publicly stated in a March 26 speech, thwarted Washington’s naive expectations for the swift removal of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In recent years, imperialist provocations from the United States and its NATO partners have strengthened relations between Russia and People’s China. Many critics of U.S. foreign policy argue that the intent to destabilize Russia is ultimately to prepare for war with socialist China.
This book contains three articles on the People’s Republic of China. The first two discuss bipartisan attacks on China in the United States since the 1949 Revolution. The third article explains how China is assisting Southeast Asian nation Myanmar as the US tries to bully the country into submission over currency relations.
There’s an article on restrictions on Iran, and then an article on Afghanistan. Understanding these two countries is especially important given that Western propaganda continues to accuse their leaders of “violating human rights”, especially around women’s rights and gender oppression.
Progressives are understandably concerned about the state of women and LGBTQ+ people in Iran and Afghanistan—or any country. At the same time, one should be careful to avoid taking a position in favor of imperialist intervention of any kind – and this book explains why well.
“Sanctions – Wrecking Ball in the Global Economy” examines the attacks on Syria and Yemen, both started in secret by the Obama-Biden administration and escalated under the Trump administration. While the Biden administration has not changed course on Syria, the book explores how it has rhetorically changed its approach to Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen, and what that means for the people of Yemen.
Near the end of the second part, an essay expresses solidarity with Zimbabwe, an African country that has faced retaliation from American and European imperialism since it won its independence from white settlers in 1980. Another article revealed that several African countries, such as Chad, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, are affected by sanctions against Russia in addition to the challenges they already face.
The penultimate article is about Venezuela and its request to the International Criminal Court to investigate whether U.S. sanctions constitute war crimes. The final article in this section assesses the impact of sanctions on access to food and medicine supplies for Palestinians living in the occupied Gaza Strip.
Clear getting started guide to eliminate confusion
The last section provides the reader with the tools of resistance. The section begins by sharing the founding statement of the Sanctions Killing Movement, which was signed by nearly 100 international activists and multiple organizations representing hundreds of organizations from around the world.
There were other statements urging the U.S. and other countries to lift sanctions, highlighting the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Sanctions – Wrecking Ball in the Global Economy” is particularly important to refute Western media disinformation about the current proxy war against Russia. Unfortunately, many on the left have misunderstood the conflict between Russia and Ukraine instigated by the US and the UK through NATO, and have drawn the wrong conclusions.
Anyone serious about defeating imperialism once and for all should read and study this book.