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Arab League sanctions against Syria

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During the debate on sanctions against South Africa, Repulicans would lecture opponents of apartheid on the futility of sanctions against South Africa one minute and then declare the need to maintain sanctions against Cuba and Iran the next.

The Republicans had it wrong then and are still wrong today. For the regime under embargo, sanctions provide much of the political benefits of war at much lower cost. Castro and Khamenei have both kept themselves in power by blaming their own economic failures on the sanctions imposed by the 'imperialists'.

Sanctions were effective against South Africa for the same reason they were ineffctive against Iran and Cuba: South Africa saw itself as a Western country. Sanctions hurt psychologically because they represented a visible rejection of their policies by the countries those they regarded as their peers.

And so the sanctions imposed on Syria by the Arab League are likely to have far more effect than any sanctions that the West might impose. Assad is not the worst brute in the region, but he is the weakest of the remaining brutes and thus an appropriate target.

I did however receive a strong dose of dejavu reading the following in the Tehran Times:

The Arab League’s suspension of Syria amid increasing Western pressure, Egyptian junta’s crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, Bahrain’s excessive use of force against its own people, and Yemeni regime’s massacre of its citizens have once again underlined the prevailing double standards in the world.
What follows is exactly the sort of drivel that pours from our own right wingers. A reminder if one was needed that the likes of Ahmedinejad, Khamenei and co are really no different from the likes of Bush, Cheney, McCain and co. They are small minded people driven by fear and hate. The only thing that distinguishes one group of rightists from another is who they hate.

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