[yt_dropcap type=”square” font=”” size=”14″ color=”#000″ background=”#fff” ] H [/yt_dropcap] ere’s an idea – how about appointing a US Treasury Secretary who actually cares for the ultimate welfare of the American People and the United States of America for a change, as opposed to using his position as a “revolving door” a la the cadre of treasonous “America-last” gaggle of premeditated criminals merely taking a leave of absence from their full-time jobs at Goldman Sachs and Covington & Burling LLP?
The American economy and its engineered 2008 crash wrought by such “financial luminaries” as Robert Rubin, Larry Summers, Gene Sperling, Hank Paulson, Tim Geithner, and others, has left a lasting effect, if not almost the total destruction of, the American Economy.
Much has been written about how the above cabal literally, beginning with when they were working under the Bill Clinton presidency, forced and coerced Mr Clinton to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act, which was the barrier separating risky investment bank behavior from “mom and pop” checking accounts and savings, thus essentially imbuing these massive financial institutions to proceed unfettered towards the shark-infested waters of bad deals, risky investments, speculative spending, and other crazy financial stunts, for “high-risk/high-yield” Pyramid and Ponzi schemes more akin to a night at a seedy Las Vegas casino, rather than what should supposedly have been judicious, well-planned, and risk-averse behavior on behalf of these banking behemoths.
Simultaneously, these same organized criminals used the Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) headed up by then chief Andrew Cuomo to put enormous pressure on such loan entities as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to lower and reduce the credit requirements to purchase a million dollar home, so that every burger flipper across America could buy a financial and un-payable “albatross” around their neck, and when the Federal Reserve eventually removed cash liquidity from the markets, all of these new “homeowners” literally found themselves on a merry-go-round that suddenly stopped, with their monthly mortgage payments coming due, but no jobs or cash to pay them, thus resulting in tens of millions of massive housing defaults across the country.
Even more sickeningly, Goldman Sachs and others only a few years earlier created a “reverse credit swap derivative,” betting on the ultimate failure within the housing market, again earning countless billions when this inevitable “housing bubble” burst.
Are these the same kind of people we want back in the United States Treasury, engineering our “economic recovery?”
These bankers, unfettered by the protections guaranteed by Glass-Steagall, could feel confident that even if their bad investments went completely and totally south, that they would eventually be bailed out by none other than the American taxpayer – and that’s exactly what happened.
But what about a former Assistant US Treasury Secretary, who previously was appointed by, and served under, one of the greatest U.S. Presidents of all time, Ronald Reagan, and who was actually instrumental in pulling America out of the quagmire of idiotic and out of control government spending, a lazy un-stimulated economy, and the general malaise of the 1970s “disco economy” manned and presided over by Democrat President Jimmy Carter?
That individual is none other than the great Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, hero to the 300 million strong American people, personal mentor to hundreds of thousands, and demonstrated enemy of the Oligarchy/Plutocracy Deep State Elite, the latter of whom have been shown the proverbial “door” by the American people in their overwhelming support of President-Elect Donald J. Trump.
The American People were able to hoist Donald Trump to the presidency even in the face of the overwhelming “cheating mechanisms” of the Deep State Oligarch Elite with their complete and total brainwashing control of the Mainstream Media, the awesome buying power of the international bankers, the co-opting of the vast majority of our legislative (senate and congress)/judiciary/executive branches, the “black bag/covert operations/color revolutions” of Deep State agent provocateurs such as George Soros who previously used to only direct his regime change operations against foreign governments rather than fomenting “purple” revolutions here at home?
Dr Paul Craig Roberts has been critical of the United States Department of the Treasury and the U.S. financial regulatory authorities – particularly of the actions of the Federal Reserve System – from former Chairmen Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke’s terms to current Chairwoman Janet Yellen via quantitative easing policies and low interest rates, the latter of which he has argued (due to his view that official government data is biased) are actually negative interest rates.
One only has to peruse the countless and brilliantly incisive books and articles penned by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts over the past few decades, and especially within the past few years, freely available on the internet and in hard book format, to clearly and easily discern just what this man stands for, what his expertise is, how much he loves the United States of America, how much he values peace and the avoidance of “stupid foreign wars,” his support, hope for, and measured loyalty to the incoming Donald Trump Administration (for Trump, “loyalty is key”), his overall and general distrust for the U.S. Government and the awesome power it yields, his suspicion over the latest du jour “terrorist attacks” all over the world which he, as do the vast majority of Americans, believe are nothing but “false flags” designed to keep Americans and the rest of the global populace afraid and compliant, ever ready to sacrifice and un-yieldingly relinquish even more of their God-given human rights, civil liberties, and constitutional protections for the sake of “state-sanctioned security” from the fabricated “boogeymen” of the Western/Saudi/Israeli/Turkish Intelligence Services known as ISIS or Al Qaeda.
His written works have also addressed and criticized outsourcing, economic deregulation, privatization of social services, Wall Street finance fraud and lax enforcement of environmental protection laws, as well as been a vocal opponent of taxing social-security payments, holding that this amounts to a “tax on a tax” or privatizing social-security believing this would create an opportunity for speculators to play with and lose the hard-earned savings of retirees.
There could be no better ally of the American People (and the Donald Trump administration) within the United States Treasury than Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, as he would be “our man within the US Treasury,” and would take control and design the much anticipated economic recovery, so badly needed by the citizenry.
He has already done it before, successfully, under the Reagan Administration, and he could easily and handily do it again under Trump.
Dr Paul Craig Roberts was born on April 3, 1939, and is often times described as an American economist, journalist, blogger and former civil servant.
He reached the height of his government career when he became the United States Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy under President Reagan in 1981.
In office he and his staff successfully combated the stagflation (price-inflation and stagnation) then plaguing the American Economy.
Tighter monetary policy was used to restrain inflation, in addition lower marginal tax rates were used to increase the rewards to work and investment.
In recognition, he was awarded the US Treasury’s Meritorious Service Award for “outstanding contributions to the formulation of United States economic policy.”
Dr Paul Craig Roberts has also been a huge supporter of common human decency, both in the United States and abroad, as a supporter of the human rights of the population of the West Bank, and he has criticized Israel’s policies and harsh actions against the Palestinians as well as speaking out against what he calls the Israel Lobby’s malign influence within US politics and academia.
Dr. Roberts is a graduate of the Georgia Institute of Technology (B.S. in Industrial Engineering) and holds a PhD from the University of Virginia.
He was a postgraduate at the University of California, Berkeley, and at Merton College, Oxford University.
From 1975 to 1978, Roberts served on congressional staff. As economic counsel to Congressman Jack Kemp, he drafted the Kemp-Roth bill (which became the “Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981″). He played a leading role in developing bipartisan support for a supply-side economic policy.
Due to his influential 1978 article on tax burden for Harper’s Magazine while economic counsel to Senator Orrin Hatch, the Wall Street Journal editor Robert L. Bartley offered him an editorial slot.
He wrote for the WSJ until 1980.
He was a senior fellow in political economy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, then part of Georgetown University.
From early 1981 to January 1982, Roberts served as assistant secretary of the treasury for economic policy, wherein President Ronald Reagan and Treasury Secretary Donald Regan credited him with a major role in the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981, and he was awarded the Treasury Department’s Meritorious Service Award for “outstanding contributions to the formulation of United States economic policy.”
After his time in government he turned to journalism, holding positions of editor and columnist for the Wall Street Journal, columnist for Business Week, and the Scripps Howard News Service as well as contributing editor to Harper’s Magazine.
In addition to numerous guest and visiting-professorships at US universities, he was professor of business administration and professor of economics at George Mason University and was the inaugural William E. Simon Chair in Political Economy at Georgetown University, serving for 12 years.
From 1993 to 1996, he was a Distinguished Fellow at the Cato Institute.
He also was a Senior Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution.
This is another thing Donald Trump and Dr Paul Craig Roberts have in common – they are both former “insiders” who turned against the Establishment as an overwhelming gesture of heroic self-sacrifice to the American people, rather than continuing to “play the game” in order to keep enriching their own pockets at the expense of the American People and the United States.
Dr Roberts also has the great love and respect of foreign nations, governments, and dignitaries as did other previous and legendary US Government/Statesmen luminaries in centuries past, as Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson – in 1987 the French government recognized him as “the artisan of a renewal in economic science and policy after half a century of state interventionism,” and inducted him into the Legion of Honor on March 20, 1987.
The French Minister of Economics and Finance, Edouard Balladur, came to the US from France to present the medal to Roberts.
In 1992, Roberts received the Warren Brookes Award for Excellence in Journalism from the free-market American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
In 1993 the Forbes Media Guide ranked him as one of the top seven journalists in the United States.
In 2015, the Mexican Press Club awarded Dr. Roberts its International Award For Excellence In Journalism in recognition of his lifelong commitment to truth and unbiased-reporting in exposing the inner workings of the global economic power-structure.
Dr Paul Craig Roberts has written that “true conservatives” were the “first victims” of the neo-cons of the Bush administration.
He has criticized the Bush tax cuts, believing they “were nothing but a greedy grab” and were “not necessary policy adjustments but rewards to the mega-rich who underwrite political careers and provide grants to economic departments and think tanks,” however, also stating that “they are not a significant cause of today’s inequality.”
Of the 9/11 Commission Report, Dr Paul Craig Roberts wrote in 2006, “One would think that if the report could stand analysis, there would not be a taboo against calling attention to the inadequacy of its explanations.” (see Criticisms of the 9/11 Commission Report).
He has asserted there is a large “energy deficit” in the official account of the collapse of the three WTC buildings, and this deficit remains unexplained.
This is yet another, out of thousands, of common ground similarities currently shared by President-Elect Donald Trump and Dr Roberts – truly a government partnership/marriage made in heaven.
Roberts commented on the “scientific impossibility” of the official explanation for the events on 9/11, as did Donald Trump in a television interview when the Towers first went down in 2001.
On August 18, 2006, he wrote: “I will begin by stating what we know to be a solid incontrovertible scientific fact. We know that it is strictly impossible for any building, much less steel columned buildings, to ‘pancake’ at free fall speed. Therefore, it is a non-controversial fact that the official explanation of the collapse of the WTC buildings is false…. Since the damning incontrovertible fact has not been investigated, speculation and ‘conspiracy theories’ have filled the void.”
He has written or co-written 12 books, contributed chapters to numerous books, and published many articles in scholarly journals.
Dr Paul Craig Roberts, like President-Elect Donald Trump, has ultimate intestinal fortitude, as is evident by his countless papers, treatises, books, and articles, where he demonstrates an All-American fearlessness coupled with ingenuity, brilliance, common-sense, and stalwartness totally absent in our treasury departments over the past few decades.
President-Elect Donald Trump should give due consideration and thought to Dr Paul Craig Roberts to be United States Secretary of the Treasury, a living legend who is truly a testament to everything that is, and always has been, Great about America.
As Refugees Flee Central America, the Mexican Public Sours On Accepting Them
Authors: Isabel Eliassen, Alianna Casas, Timothy S. Rich*
In recent years, individuals from Central America’s Northern Triangle (El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras) have been forced out of their home countries by extreme poverty and gang violence. While initial expectations were that the Lopez Obrador administration would be more welcoming to migrants, policies have slowly mirrored those of his predecessor, and do not seem to have deterred refugees. COVID-19 led to a decrease in refugees arriving in Mexico, and many shelters in Mexico closed or have limited capacity due to social distancing restrictions. Now that the COVID-19 situation has changed, arrivals could increase again to the levels seen in late 2018 or 2019, with overcrowded refugee centers lacking in medical care as potential grounds for serious COVID-19 outbreaks.
Mexico increasingly shares a similar view as the US on this migration issue, seeking ways to detain or deport migrants rather than supporting or protecting them. For instance, Mexico’s National Immigration Institute has been conducting raids on freight trains to find and detain migrants. Public opinion likely shapes these policies. In the US, support for allowing migrants into the country appeared to increase slightly from 2018 to 2019, but no significant majority emerges. Meanwhile, Mexican public opinion increasingly exhibits anti-immigrant sentiments, declining considerably since 2018, with a 2019 Washington Post poll showing that 55% supported deporting Central Americans rather than providing temporary residence and a 2019 El Financiero poll finding 63% supportive of closing to border to curb migration.
New Data Shows the Mexican Public Unwelcoming
To gauge Mexican public opinion on refugees, we conducted an original web survey June 24-26 via Qualtrics, using quota sampling. We asked 625 respondents to evaluate the statement “Mexico should accept refugees fleeing from Central America” on a five-point Likert scale from strongly disagree to strongly agree. For visual clarity, we combined disagree and agree categories in the figure below.
Overall, a plurality (43.84%) opposed accepting refugees, with less than a third (30.08%) supportive. Broken down by party affiliation, we see similar results, with the largest opposition from the main conservative party PAN (52.90%) and lowest in the ruling party MORENA (41.58%). Broken down by gender, we find women slightly more supportive compared to men (32.60% vs. 27.04%), consistent with findings elsewhere and perhaps acknowledgment that women and children historically comprise a disproportionate amount of refugees. Regression analysis again finds PAN supporters to be less supportive than other respondents, although this distinction declines once controlling for gender, age, education and income, of which only age corresponded with a statistically significant decline in support. It is common for older individuals to oppose immigration due to generational changes in attitude, so this finding is not unexpected.
We also asked the question “On a 1-10 scale, with 1 being very negative and 10 very positive, how do you feel about the following countries?” Among countries listed were the sources of the Central American refugees, the three Northern Triangle countries. All three received similar average scores (Guatemala: 4.33, Honduras: 4.05, El Salvador: 4.01), higher than Venezuela (3.25), but lower than the two other countries rated (US: 7.71, China: 7.26) Yet, even after controlling for general views of the Central American countries, we find the public generally unsupportive of accepting refugees.
How Should Mexico Address the Refugee Crisis?
Towards the end of the Obama administration, aid and other efforts directed at resolving the push factors for migration in Central America, including decreasing violence and limiting corruption, appeared to have some success at reducing migration north. President Trump’s policies largely did not improve the situation, and President Biden has begun to reverse those policies and re-implement measures successful under Obama.
As discussed in a meeting between the Lopez Obrador administration and US Vice President Kamala Harris, Mexico could adopt similar aid policies, and decreasing the flow of migrants may make the Mexican public respond more positively to accepting migrants. Lopez Obrador committed to increased economic cooperation with Central America days into his term, with pledges of aid as well, but these efforts remain underdeveloped. Threats to cut aid expedite deportations only risks worsening the refugee crisis, while doing little to improve public opinion.
Increasingly, the number of family units from Guatemala and Honduras seeking asylum in Mexico, or the United States, represents a mass exodus from Central America’s Northern Triangle to flee insecurity. Combating issues such as extreme poverty and violence in Central American countries producing the mass exodus of refugees could alleviate the impact of the refugee crisis on Mexico. By alleviating the impact of the refugee crisis, refugees seeking asylum will be able to navigate immigration processes easier thus decreasing tension surrounding the influx of refugees.
Likewise, identifying the public’s security and economic concerns surrounding refugees and crafting a response should reduce opposition. A spokesperson for Vice President Harris stated that border enforcement was on the agenda during meetings with the Lopez Obrador administration, but the Mexican foreign minister reportedly stated that border security was not to be addressed at the meeting. Other than deporting migrants at a higher rate than the US, Mexico also signed an agreement with the US in June pledging money to improve opportunities for work in the Northern Triangle. Nonetheless, questions about whether this agreement will bring meaningful change remain pertinent in the light of a worsening crisis.
Our survey research shows little public interest in accepting refugees. Public sentiment is unlikely to change unless the Lopez Obrador administration finds ways to both build sympathy for the plights of refugees and address public concerns about a refugee crisis with no perceived end in sight. For example, research in the US finds public support for refugees is often higher when the emphasis is on women and children, and the Lopez Obrador administration could attempt to frame the crisis as helping specifically these groups who historically comprise most refugees. Likewise, coordinating efforts with the US and other countries may help portray to the public that the burden of refugee resettlement is being equitably shared rather than disproportionately placed on Mexico.
Facing a complex situation affecting multiple governments requires coordinated efforts and considerable resources to reach a long-term solution. Until then, the Central American refugee crisis will continue and public backlash in Mexico likely increase.
Isabel Eliassen is a 2021 Honors graduate of Western Kentucky University. She triple majored in International Affairs, Chinese, and Linguistics.
Alianna Casas is an Honors Undergraduate Researcher at Western Kentucky University, majoring in Business Economics, Political Science, and a participant in the Joint Undergraduate/Master’s Program in Applied Economics.
Timothy S. Rich is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Western Kentucky University and Director of the International Public Opinion Lab (IPOL). His research focuses on public opinion and electoral politics.
Funding for this survey was provided by the Mahurin Honors College at Western Kentucky University.
Indictment of Trump associate threatens UAE lobbying success
This month’s indictment of a billionaire, one-time advisor and close associate of former US President Donald J. Trump, on charges of operating as an unregistered foreign agent in the United States for the United Arab Emirates highlights the successes and pitfalls of a high-stakes Emirati effort to influence US policy.
The indictment of businessman Thomas J. Barrack, who maintained close ties to UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed while serving as an influential advisor in 2016 to then-presidential candidate Trump and chair of Mr. Trump’s inauguration committee once he won the 2016 election, puts at risk the UAE’s relationship with the Biden administration.
It also threatens to reduce the UAE’s return on a massive investment in lobbying and public relations that made it a darling in Washington during the last four years.
A 2019 study concluded that Emirati clients hired 20 US lobbying firms to do their bidding at a cost of US$20 million, including US$600,000 in election campaign contributions — one of the largest, if not the largest expenditure by a single state on Washington lobbying and influence peddling.
The indictment further raises the question of why the Biden administration was willing to allow legal proceedings to put at risk its relationship with one of America’s closest allies in the Middle East, one that last year opened the door to recognition of Israel by Arab and Muslim-majority states.
The UAE lobbying effort sought to position the Emirates, and at its behest, Saudi Arabia under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed’s counterpart, Mohammed bin Salman, at the heart of US policy, ensure that Emirati and Saudi interests were protected, and shield the two autocrats from criticism of various of their policies and abuse of human rights.
Interestingly, UAE lobbying in the United States, in contrast to France and Austria, failed to persuade the Trump administration to embrace one of the Emirates’ core policy objectives: a US crackdown on political Islam with a focus on the Muslim Brotherhood. UAE Crown Prince Mohammed views political Islam and the Brotherhood that embraces the principle of elections as an existential threat to the survival of his regime.
In one instance cited in the indictment, Mr. Barrack’s two co-defendants, a UAE national resident in the United States, Rashid Al-Malik, and Matthew Grimes, a Barrack employee, discussed days after Mr. Trump’s inauguration the possibility of persuading the new administration to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a designated foreign terrorist organization. “This will be a huge win. If we can list them. And they deserved to be,” Mr. Al-Malik texted Mr. Grimes on 23 January 2017.
The unsuccessful push for designating the Brotherhood came three months after Mr. Barrack identified the two Prince Mohammeds in an op-ed in Fortune magazine as members of a new generation of “brilliant young leaders.” The billionaire argued that “American foreign policy must persuade these bold visionaries to lean West rather than East… By supporting their anti-terrorism platforms abroad, America enhances its anti-terrorism policies at home.”
Mr. Barrack further sought to persuade America’s new policymakers, in line with Emirati thinking, that the threat posed by political Islam emanated not only from Iran’s clerical regime and its asymmetric defence and security policies but also from the Brotherhood and Tukey’s Islamist government. He echoed Emirati promotion of Saudi Arabia after the rise of Mohammed bin Salman as the most effective bulwark against political Islam.
“It is impossible for the US to move against any hostile Islamic group anywhere in the world without Saudi support…. The confused notion that Saudi Arabia is synonymous with radical Islam is falsely based on the Western notion that ‘one size fits all,’ Mr. Barrack asserted.
The Trump administration’s refusal to exempt the Brotherhood from its embrace of Emirati policy was the likely result of differences within both the US government and the Muslim world. Analysts suggest that some in the administration feared that designating the Brotherhood would empower the more rabidly Islamophobic elements in Mr. Trump’s support base.
Administration officials also recognized that the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt constituted a minority, albeit a powerful minority, in the Muslim world that was on the warpath against the Brotherhood.
Elsewhere, Brotherhood affiliates were part of the political structure by either participating in government or constituting part of the legal opposition in countries like Kuwait, Iraq, Yemen, Bahrain, Morocco, Jordan, and Indonesia.
The affiliates have at times supported US policies or worked closely with US allies like in the case of Yemen’s Al Islah that is aligned with Saudi-backed forces.
In contrast to UAE efforts to ensure that the Brotherhood is crushed at the risk of fueling Islamophobia, Nahdlatul Ulama, one of, if not the world’s largest Muslim organization which shares the Emirates’ rejection of political Islam and the Brotherhood, has opted to fight the Brotherhood’s local Indonesian affiliate politically within a democratic framework rather than by resorting to coercive tactics.
Nahdlatul Ulama prides itself on having significantly diminished the prospects of Indonesia’s Brotherhood affiliate, the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), since the 2009 presidential election. The group at the time successfully drove a wedge between then-President Susilo Yudhoyono, and the PKS, his coalition partner since the 2004 election that brought him to power. In doing so, it persuaded Mr. Yudhoyono to reject a PKS candidate as vice president in the second term of his presidency.
Nahdlatul Ulama’s manoeuvring included the publication of a book asserting that the PKS had not shed its links to militancy. The party has since failed to win even half of its peak 38 seats in parliament garnered in the 2004 election.
“Publication of ‘The Illusion of an Islamic State: The Expansion of Transnational Islamist Movements to Indonesia’ had a considerable impact on domestic policy. It primarily contributed to neutralizing one candidate’s bid for vice president in the 2009 national election campaign, who had ties to the Muslim Brotherhood,” said militancy expert Magnus Ranstorp.
Biden Revises US Sanctions Policy
In the United States, a revision of the sanctions policy is in full swing. Joe Biden’s administration strives to make sanctions instruments more effective in achieving his political goals and, at the same time, reducing political and economic costs. The coordination of restrictive measures with allies is also seen as an important task. Biden is cautiously but consistently abandoning the sanctions paradigm that emerged during Donald Trump’s presidency.
The US sanctions policy under Trump was characterised by several elements. First, Washington applied them quite harshly. In all key areas (China, Iran, Russia, Venezuela, etc.), the United States used economic and financial restrictions without hesitation, and sometimes in unprecedented volumes. Of course, the Trump administration acted rationally and rigidity was not an end in itself. In a number of episodes, the American authorities acted prudently (for example, regarding sanctions on Russian sovereign debt in 2019). The Trump-led executives stifled excess Congressional enthusiasm for “draconian sanctions” against Russia and even some initiatives against China. However, the harshness of other measures sometimes shocked allies and opponents alike. These include the 6 April 2014 sanctions against a group of Russian businessmen and their assets, or bans on some Chinese telecommunications services in the United States, or sanctions blocking the International Criminal Court.
Second, Trump clearly ignored the views of US allies. The unilateral withdrawal from the nuclear deal with Iran in 2018 forced European businesses to leave Iran, resulting in losses. Even some of the nation’s closest allies were annoyed. Another irritant was the tenacity with which Trump (with Congressional backing) threw a wrench in the wheels of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project. Despite the complicated relations between Moscow and the European Union, the latter defended the right to independently determine what was in its interests and what was not.
Third, concerns about sanctions have emerged among American business as well. Fears have grown in financial circles that the excessive use of sanctions will provoke the unnecessary politicisation of the global financial system. In the short term, a radical decline in the global role of the dollar is hardly possible. But political risks are forcing many governments to seriously consider it. Both rivals (Moscow and Beijing) and allies (Brussels) have begun to implement corresponding plans. Trade sanctions against China have affected a number of US companies in the telecommunications and high-tech sectors.
Finally, on some issues, the Trump administration has been inconsistent or simply made mistakes. For example, Trump enthusiastically criticised China for human rights violations, supporting relevant legislative initiatives. But at the same time, it almost closed its eyes to the events in Belarus in 2020. Congress was also extremely unhappy with the delay in the reaction on the “Navalny case” in Russia. As for mistakes, the past administration missed the moment for humanitarian exemptions for sanctions regimes in connection with the COVID-19 epidemic. Even cosmetic indulgences could have won points for US “soft power”. Instead, the US Treasury has published a list of pre-existing exceptions.
The preconditions for a revision of the sanctions policy arose even before Joe Biden came to power. First of all, a lot of analytical work was done by American think tanks—nongovernmental research centers. They provided a completely sober and unbiased analysis of bothха! achievements and mistakes. In addition, the US Government Accountability Office has done serious work; in 2019 it prepared two reports for Congress on the institutions of the American sanctions policy. However, Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election significantly accelerated the revision of the sanctions instruments. Both the ideological preferences of the Democrats (for example, the emphasis on human rights) and the political experience of Biden himself played a role.
The new guidelines for the US sanctions policy can be summarised as follows. First, the development of targeted sanctions and a more serious analysis of their economic costs for American business, as well as business from allied and partner countries. Second, closer coordination with allies. Here, Biden has already sent a number of encouraging signals by introducing temporary sanctions exemptions on Nord Stream 2. Although a number of Russian organisations and ships were included in the US sanctions lists, Nord Stream 2 itself and its leadership were not affected. Third, we are talking about closer attention to the subject of human rights. Biden has already reacted with sanctions both to the “Navalny case” and to the situation in Belarus. Human rights will be an irritant in relations with China. Fourth, the administration is working towards overturning Trump’s most controversial decisions. The 2020 decrees on Chinese telecoms were cancelled, the decree on sanctions against the International Criminal Court was cancelled, the decree on Chinese military-industrial companies was modified; negotiations are also underway with Iran.
The US Treasury, one of the key US sanctions agencies, will also undergo personnel updates. Elisabeth Rosenberg, a prominent sanctions expert who previously worked at the Center for a New American Security, may take the post of Assistant Treasury Secretary. She will oversee the subject of sanctions. Thus, the principle of “revolving doors”, which is familiar to Americans, is being implemented, when the civil service is replenished with personnel from the expert community and business, and then “returns” them back.
At the same time, the revision of the sanctions policy by the new administration cannot be called a revolution. The institutional arrangement will remain unchanged. It is a combination of the functions of various departments—the Treasury, the Department of Trade, the Department of Justice, the State Department, etc. The experience of their interagency coordination has accumulated over the years. The system worked flawlessly both under Trump and under his predecessors. Rather, it will be about changing the political directives.
For Russia, the revision is unlikely to bring radical changes. A withdrawal from the carpet bombing of Russian business, such as the incident on 6 April 2018 hint that good news can be considered a possibility. However, the legal mechanisms of sanctions against Russia will continue to operate. The emphasis on human rights will lead to an increase in sanctions against government structures. Against this background, regular political crises are possible in relations between the two countries.
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Authors: Isabel Eliassen, Alianna Casas, Timothy S. Rich* In recent years, individuals from Central America’s Northern Triangle (El Salvador, Guatemala,...
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