Time to drop the sanctions against Iran and the Palestinians

Time to drop the sanctions against Iran and the Palestinians
By Bill Fletcher, Jr.
There is something genocidal about the approach of the Trump administration towards sanctions against Iran and the Palestinians. The background, of course, is that vis a vis Iran, Trump destroyed the multinational nuclear deal and wants Iran to surrender to the will of his administration. Regarding the Palestinians, Trump wants the Palestinian people to surrender to the will of the Israeli government and abandon their fight for freedom. It is really that simple.
Sanctions, which more than anything else, are creating misery for the two peoples, have not resulted in any changes on behalf of the government of Iran or, separately, the political representatives of the Palestinian people. What they are doing is laying the foundation for what is emerging as a catastrophic humanitarian situation.
In the context of Covid-19, the Iranian government has been asking for relief from sanctions in order to help to address the depth of the pandemic in their country. Secretary of State Pompeo, on behalf of the Trump administration, has said “no.”
With regard to the Palestinians, and despite the requests of the United Nations, the Trump administration refuses to reverse itself on cuts to humanitarian assistance. Covid-19 has now made its appearance in Gaza, an area that is broadly described as the largest open-air prison on this planet due to the Israeli blockade.
These two situations have recalled the great Athenian plague during the Peloponnesian War (431-405 BC) when thousands of Athenians died during the Spartan siege (some estimates are as high as 25% of the population). The plague, in the second year of the war, weakened and demoralized the Athenians. I have found myself wondering whether, in true maniacal style, the Trump administration is making a similar calculation.
One does not have to go back the Peloponnesian War to find examples of utilizing plagues in order to bring an opponent to its knees. Lord Jeffery Amherst, Commander of British forces in North America during the French & Indian War (1755-1763) and immediately after, utilized blankets infected with smallpox to destroy Native American resistance to the British.
While one can argue that the Trump administration is not directly infecting either Iran or the Palestinians, that becomes a distinction without a difference. The pandemic is expanding exponentially, with the capacity to cripple entire nations—as we are seeing—and the perpetration of sanctions weakens the capacity of institutions to address the medical and humanitarian needs of their respective populations.
Is genocide too strong a word to use?
Bill Fletcher, Jr. is the executive editor of globalafricanworker.com and the former president of TransAfrica Forum.