Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Jack Lew: Economic Sanctions Are A Powerful Weapon of the US Empire and We Plan to Expand Our Enforcement Capabilities

If you think Iran was a limited case of the US implementing economic sanctions or that the sanctions now in effect against Russia are just another limited case, think again.

The United States government knows full well it has a powerful weapon in sanctions and it has a powerful infrastructure of analysts and researchers designated to do nothing but implement sanctions on anyone in the world at a moments notice.

In a remarkable speech today in Washington D.C. at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew made clear that the United States government uses economic sanctions to cause global actors to bend to the demands of the United States. He called economic sanctions "smart power":
Economic sanctions have become a powerful force in service of clear and coordinated foreign policy objectives—smart power for situations where diplomacy alone is insufficient, but military force is not the right response.  They must remain a powerful option for decades to come.  That is why the lessons we have learned from our experience need to guide our approach to sanctions in the future.  And we must be strategic and judicious in how we apply sanctions to challenging situations around the world.

The power of our sanctions is inextricably linked to our leadership role in the world....
While every situation will require a tailored approach, the underlying goal of all sanctions is an effort to change behavior.  Sanctions are not meant to dole out punishment for past actions.  They are forward-looking, intended to keep illicit or dangerous conduct out of our system and create pressure to change future behavior.  This foundational principle is very different from civil penalties and forfeiture, which are punitive and meant to address past behavior.
He made clear that the United States government has massive  intelligence capabilities, including investigators and analysts, to track violations of sanctions. He called it an "investment in infrastructure." But he indicated that the US wants more. The Empire expects tmore cooperation and "infrastructure" development from other governments  to intensify its abilities to control the globe's financial transactions:
[W]e have learned is that our experience has shown that to be effective, sanctions programs require an investment in infrastructure to implement and support our efforts.
Powerful sanctions require investigators and analysts to track how key actors move and store their money and to build detailed cases drawing on intelligence analysis.  And they rely on enforcement officers to investigate violations and levy penalties for significant wrongdoing....

Here at home, we have spent decades building a system to implement sanctions and to help private companies and foreign governments understand how sanctions apply to a complex range of industries and transactions.  We work closely to maintain two-way communications with companies that are well-positioned to observe the effects of our sanctions and often to assess where they can be improved.
This behind the scenes work is what makes an effective program. 
We need more partners internationally to help with this effort, which is why we are working to build capacity in countries around the world...
The United States has the most developed capabilities in this area, combining intelligence, policy, regulatory, and enforcement capabilities under one roof.  But we need to enhance them further.  And we will work with our counterparts in other governments to build their own capabilities. 


  1. Wait till the shoe is on the other foot and the world eventually says screw you US and your dollar....

  2. Hey Jack, how well did those sanctions work on the Iranians or the Russians? What? They laughed at you? I would laugh at you too Jack, you little inbred aristocrat.

  3. According to Ron Paul, sanctions are an act of war. So now the Secretary of the Treasury can declare war? Next up: "Dept of Education declares war against Singapore for skewing global test scores".

  4. who says government is inefficient...that it doesn't innovative.? Unfortunately, the state is a particularly efficient mechanism for it does control. We are long past the days of the early 20th century socialist calculation debate. Today, you have to ask yourself: what calculation problem? what knowledge problem?

  5. I think that the US sanctions were a lot more effective a few decades ago. In any case, they are starting to lose their finance implications in comparison to how China is placing pressure on the market now!