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Apr 15, 2020

As COVID-19 continues to endanger the health of people throughout the world, it also magnifies a long-existent global humanitarian crisis: The use of sanctions by the United States and other powers as a weapon of war. In Iran, one of the countries most devastated by the contagion, sanctions have strangulated the supply of medical equipment crucial to testing the population and treating those who are infected, inspiring some members of the political establishment to call for sanctions to be eased. While these pleas are necessary, they’re woefully inadequate and long overdue. Sanctions aren’t just a problem when there’s a pandemic. Iran had been subjected to U.S. and UN-imposed sanctions long before the appearance of the contagion—as had Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea, Iraq, and far too many other countries deemed Official Enemies of the United States and its allies, resulting in economic destabilization, vulnerability to U.S. militarism, starvation, illness, and mass deaths. 
Amid these life-or-death stakes, media and think tanks’ responses to sanctions range from mere handwringing to outright bloodlust. Rather than decisively condemning sanctions as ruthless acts of economic warfare, American media largely perpetuates the narrative that sanctions are a necessity, and often a force for good, in the effort to punish and “change the behavior” of some perceived “rogue” government. Meanwhile, little criticism is offered outside of tepid suggestions that those sanctions should be tweaked. 
On today’s show, we’ll examine how the U.S. levies sanctions to undermine countries opposed to U.S. hegemony, how sanctions are laundered as benign in the media, and how the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the preexisting, decades-long barbarism of U.S. foreign policy. 
We are joined by guests Keyvan Shafiei and Hoda Katebi.