WASHINGTON DC. – Today, US Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) spoke in the Senate to oppose proposed sanctions against the Nord Stream II gas pipeline.
Below are Dr. Paul’s remarks as prepared:
“Sanction this. Sanction that. The Treasury Department currently administers dozens of sanctions programs designed to change the behavior of certain countries.
“And yet no one seems to be asking the important question: do sanctions promote peace and understanding or do they exacerbate tensions between nations? What behavior has China changed since the United States began sanctions?
“Sanctions, while lacking proof of effectiveness, are hugely popular with both sides. Embargoes, sanctions’ big brother, also generate bipartisan enthusiasm. The US embargo on Cuba has now lasted for more than 60 years without any evidence of regime change, or even a change in regime policy.
“Embargoes are often described, especially by the embargoed country, as an act of war. Many historians say that the U.S. embargo of 1807 ultimately led to the War of 1812. President Jefferson’s embargo was intended to punish France and England for their aggressions at sea but instead the embargo crippled US maritime exports, which fell by 75%, alongside a reduction in imports.
“Some historians also blame the U.S. embargo on Japan in 1941 for the ensuing war. Franklin Roosevelt seized all of Japan’s assets, and Japan lost access to the vast majority of its international trade and more than 80% of its oil imported From Japan’s point of view, the embargo was an act of war.
“Yet supporters of embargoes and sanctions are always asking for more. Sanctionists point to international sanctions against Iran as the lever that led to the Obama-era nuclear deal with Iran.
“Maybe. But an equally valid argument can be made that it was the extension of carrots rather than sticks that brought Iran to the table. Funny how diplomacy seems to demand give and take not just take, take, take.
“Our interaction with Iran should illuminate today’s debate over sanctions against the Nord Stream II gas pipeline between Russia and Germany. But the shadow of commercialism obscures the light of experience. Opponents of the pipeline, unsurprisingly, are largely from states that compete in the sale of natural gas.
“Reports indicate that the pipeline will cause a significant reduction in U.S. liquid natural gas exports.
Recognizing that this debate is only superficially about national security and more about provincial protectionism helps us better understand the dynamics.
“History demonstrates that trade and interconnectedness between nations is an obstacle to war. Engaging in mutually beneficial trade coupled with powerful military deterrence is the combination that best promises peace.
“Over the past decade, Congress and Presidents have piled sanctions on Russia and China. When I asked State Department officials to reveal behavioral changes resulting from sanctions, I did not All they got was blank stares. Now the sanctionsists want to sanction an already completed pipeline. But what behavior are they asking Russia to change? What exactly are they asking Russia to do? What Russian action is needed for sanctions to change? end?
“I asked the sponsor of these sanctions what he wants Russia to do, what behavior he wants Russia to change. cannot ship natural gas to Germany.
“If the Nord Stream II sanctions were really aimed at changing Russian policy or deterring aggression, then NATO, including Germany, could threaten sanctions if Russia invades Ukraine. Now this threat of sanctions, with Germany as an ally, could in fact have deterrent value.
“In fact, last summer the United States and Germany announced an agreement that warns Russia that “any attempt to weaponize energy or commit further acts of aggression against Ukraine “will be sanctioned. The pledge is designed to ensure that Russia does not misuse any pipeline, including Nord Stream II, for aggressive political purposes.
“The rush to impose sanctions now undermines the threat of sanctions aimed at deterring Russian aggression against Ukraine.
“But as today’s debate unfolds, I think you will find that the sanctions against Nord Stream II are more about profiteering and protectionism than national security.”
You can watch Dr. Paul’s remarks HERE and read Dr. Paul’s recent op-ed in the American Conservative HERE.