Die Rückeroberung des Westens (German Edition)
Forming a central part of the debate surrounding Iran, the Western public is afforded the dubious luxury of relying on rhetoric rather than reality when assessing sanctions.
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In the face of that fantastic image of sanctions, a serious discussion about their extent and impact is flagrantly missing. The automatic recourse to sanctions by Western policy-makers most recently at the start of the Syrian crisis is not only an expression of their perplexity and their delusional belief that you can meet a complex problem with a supposedly universal magic cure.
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Also, some policy-makers want us to believe that the never-ending tightening of sanctions reflected their paternal patience with which the democracies dealt with the evil opponent, in their noble aim to prevent the mad mullahs rushing to the bomb. The Western-led sanctions regime against Iran, with its now virtually all-out financial and trade embargo, has since its qualitative leap in the course of the so-called nuclear crisis of the past decade, always been by its very design not aimed at a tyrannicide of any kind.
The financial exclusion is precisely the reason why purely non-military items, most dramatically a great deal of life-saving medicine, cannot be purchased any longer. Imagine, for a second, how each of them and their families might feel in the current situation.
And when noticed sanctions are even thought of as a benign gesture in comparison to the military prowess that can be unleashed upon a country and the people inhabiting it. But how come that for too long a time many have accepted the deployment of this economic weapon of mass destruction? What further rhetorical tools are used to justify the imposition of crippling sanctions?
To maintain the moral high-ground, at each and every round of ever-tightening sanctions Western leaders hasten to highlight that the measures adopted are not aimed at the people of Iran who, they never fail to add, deserve a better life than under the present regime.
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This implies that Iranians in turn somehow deserve the Western sanctions being proffered to them by a caring Uncle Sam to alleviate their misery and desperation, and to revitalize their hopes and aspirations. Rarely, someone will ask about the real utility and efficacy of such measures in alleviating the repression dissident Iranians are exposed to: What is the use of prohibiting someone to travel beyond the region who nearly never does so? While all the above-mentioned restrictions may be morally justified, the key point is that its contents reflect only a very tiny percentage of the entire sanctions package that overwhelmingly has nothing to do with those measures enlisted and proudly enunciated.
However, because of the severity of the situation that has come about as a result of these sanctions, for over a year this Trojan Horse argument can no longer be sold with the ease that it used to be. The reason is that Iranians inside and outside the country have themselves felt the scourge of the sanctions on their everyday life, and begun to comprehend that the measures are by no means targeted but indeed crippling.
After all, is there any evidence to suggest that such demands have in any way benefited the cause of freedom and democracy in Iran?
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Or, rather, have they provided a cover of legitimacy for the continuation of the sanctions policy in its entirety? Therefore, one must bitterly admit, some freedom fighters have assumed the role of useful stooges for the economic strangulation of Iranians.
Similar reports from Iran are reaching us at an accelerated rate, day by day; they are accompanied by voices of desperation, people for whom in a repressive system the air to breathe becomes even thinner by way of sanctions. The sanctions narrative is predicated upon the idea that there is a positive relationship between sanctions and democratization, for the tyrant is tamed and the people empowered. After all, there can be no freedom without sacrifice, echoes the loud heckling from parts of the Iranian diaspora from Los Angeles to London. The price is high but the time has come to pay it, Ramin also invokes on Facebook.
However, the underlying assumption is that it is acceptable to collectively punish Iranian society for the sake of a greater good — however ill-defined the latter may be. On the ground, however, there is a connection whose logic we would never dare to doubt within the Western hemisphere: a sustainable and socially just democratic change is dependent not only on the energies of the middle class, but also on the intervention of working people and the poor.
It is precisely this middle class, the workers, and the poor that are sanctioned to death in Iran. To put it differently, a person struggling for economic survival barely has the luxury of engaging as a citoyen in the struggle for democracy.
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Young Iranians, who form the bulk of the population, suffer most extremely at the hands of economic sanctions. Instead of assuming such a role, these same people are subjected to collective punishment. Taking into consideration the academic findings about the impact of sanctions, the Iranian case can potentially qualify as a prime showpiece: authoritarian regimes driven into a corner usually increase their repression against all kinds of opposition and are also able to shift the costs of sanctions onto the population, as a result of which they can prolong their rule.
With legal trade virtually illegalized, the civilian economic sectors across the board are damned to head-shakingly observe how black-channel operations run by powerful circles of corruption and nepotism flourish. Aware of such fatal consequences, civil-society representatives from inside Iran have consistently opposed sanctions.
The West, which is always boasting of its support for the cause of democracy in Iran, has simply preferred to ignore these voices. In other words, in total inversion of Western political expectations, the escalation of the sanctions was accompanied by an escalation of the nuclear program. In addition, sanctions aim to force concessions from Iran. Only as result of the ever-tightening sanctions regime, it is suggested, the stubborn Iranians have agreed to engage in negotiations.
It appears as if there has never been the Iraqi tragedy — indeed a historical chapter of utter disgrace for Western civilization. First of all, this does not refer to the criminal invasion and occupation of the country in It was throughout the s that this erstwhile cradle of civilization was already barbarically destroyed. Nothing less than the social fabric of Iraq was shattered; food supply, the health and education systems all collapsed, as did the infrastructure. President Bill Clinton explained in November But we noticed something decisive when we looked through the many international projects for a contemporary mobility: cycling is a seismograph of urbanity.
What is the mood about this in German society: Is there a consensus that a bicycle-friendly public space is what we want?
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Many people are particularly interested in how they can manage their own personal mobility as well as possible. It was passed in and stipulates that the city must promote cycling. What other arguments besides the space problem speak for the bicycle? And finally, the environment.
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Polls in bike cities like Groningen and Copenhagen show that people take to bikes because they are the fastest and most convenient means of transport, at least over shorter distances. As an architectural museum, it was important for us of course to showcase high-quality creative construction projects. Are there any of the eight examples from Europe and other regions selected for the exhibition whose aesthetics really inspires you personally? The Boulevard Passeig de St. Joan is just incredible.
In this project city planning, traffic planning and above all landscape architecture come together in an exemplary way and create new, high quality recreational areas. With plenty of seating, new green areas and playgrounds, public space is upgraded for everyone, not just cyclists. There are cities that always play a leading role in design issues and Barcelona is definitely one of them. Simply put, if fewer people drive around in cars, shut up within their own four walls, what does this mean for social communication?
The bicycle is also a socially aware means of transport. I experience urban space physically and differently, perceive it differently.