The Fruitcake Trade 

Sanctions against other countries don't work in a global economy.

I had been thinking recently that I might start a business that would export fruitcakes to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. That was the most appropriate export I could think of. But the president has put the kibosh on that idea with his tough new sanctions.

Sanctions imposed by President Bush or Congress are always described as tough, but they only apply to Americans. Anybody in any other country who might like to sell fruitcakes to the Iranians is free to do so.

My point is that sanctions are generally stupid, since they affect only American businesses. As much as the president and Congress might wish otherwise, U.S. laws apply only in the U.S. American businesses can be barred from doing business with a country that displeases American politicians, but the ban doesn't apply anywhere else.

And it does seem to me that I have at least heard rumors that today there is something called a global economy. Americans can't invest in Cuba or in any of the other countries on the politicians' scat list, but Europeans, Asians, and others can and do.

Other than substituting empty gestures for real action and appeasing domestic lobbies, I really don't see what good sanctions do. It's no longer 1945. We are not the only surviving industrial power. No matter what product you desire, you can find it in lots of other countries.

This empty gesture is just part of the buildup to attacking Iran militarily. As some noted expert recently said, you have to be living on a different planet to imagine that Iran is or ever would be a threat to the world.

Unfortunately, the president and Vice President Cheney apparently do live on another planet, because after a number of lies, they attacked two countries that were even less of a threat than Iran could ever hope to be.

Never mind that the Israeli foreign minister just said publicly that Israel would not be threatened by a nuclear Iran. Never mind that Iran says it wishes only to enrich uranium enough to fuel its reactors for generating electricity. Never mind that Iran does not have the capability of attacking either us or Israel.

I'd bet a dog that the president has convinced himself that we can stage another "shock and awe" show that will take out Iran's nuclear facilities and its military assets in one easy surgical strike. Strategic bombing has been overrated ever since World War II. The president might know a lot about baseball, but he knows practically nothing about war.

Ask an American veteran who sat on an invasion fleet for days while naval guns and airplanes blasted some small Pacific island to smithereens. He will tell you that when he went ashore, the Japanese were still there ready to fight.

Our bombing campaign against Serbia no doubt killed Serb and Albanian civilians, but when it was over, the Serb army forces came out of Kosovo virtually intact. The famous shock-and-awe show made for good television but missed its intended target: Saddam Hussein and his top lieutenants.

If you hope that bombing can take out Iran's nuclear facilities and its military assets, you are hoping for something that only a magic fairy can deliver. And please, to talk about a "surgical" strike with bombs is like saying a sawed-off shotgun can be fired with pinpoint accuracy. You cannot bomb any urban area without killing innocent civilians.

Nobody can know for sure what will happen if our Great Leader decides to attack Iran, but anybody will tell you that it won't be good. Come to think of it, maybe we all should send fruitcakes to the fruitcakes in the White House, if we can find the address of the planet they are living on.

Charley Reese has been a journalist for 50 years.



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