We're Doing Freedom Fries the Redux
Russian vodka, cat, and video game soccer teams: it's full consumer hysteria.
After the U.S. government and our allies announced further sweeping sanctions on Russia amid its ongoing invasion of Ukraine—which the White House, in its press release, was careful to frame as a “war of choice,” a notion the U.S. should be well acquainted with—the battle has filtered down to the consumer level. And boy are we being hysterical about it!
First, let’s get this out of the way: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is unjust. Yet sanctions, which are widely viewed as a nonviolent alternative to military intervention, are anything but nonviolent. Here’s a bit of recent history on sanctions, along with their impact on the general populations of those countries, via The Conversation:
Even if the sanctions are specifically targeted, there are severe ramifications for the general populace. For instance, United Nations sanctions on Iraq doubled infant and under-five mortality rates. Similarly, sanctions can also have major implications for food security — U.S. sanctions against Cuba contributed to a decline in the availability of nutritious foods and increased infectious diseases and deaths for the adult and elderly population.
More recent evidence suggests that imposing sanctions slows economic growth and development, widens the poverty gap, restricts access to food and medicines and exacerbates inequalities.
Already, we’re watching ordinary Russians bearing the brunt of the ongoing economic sanctions as the ruble has lost 40 per cent of its value and interest rates increased to 20 per cent.
Further isolating Russia and Putin from the international community also gives the Russian autocratic regime yet another opportunity to impose more repressive policies on its citizens and opposition parties.
Moreover, there’s ample historical evidence to show that these sanctions won’t work to reverse Putin’s invasion of Ukraine (one notable exception to this rule, although not a perfect comparison, being international sanctions pushing South Africa to end apartheid), but given our deeply connected world, it’s quite likely to have myriad destabilizing effects on everyone’s economy. Still, as even the Wall Street Journal, not exactly a stalwart against American intervention of all stripes, put it, “sanctions are still widely viewed as better than doing nothing.”
What’s something that’s just as bad, if not more stupid, than doing nothing? Consumers at home and abroad taking up the cause as their own to basically do Freedom Fries the Redux. (The writer Ayesha A. Siddiqi, whom I interviewed back in December, first coined the term “Bush era redux” to describe the moment we’ve been living through since the Bush administration.)
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