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An Interview by Kourosh Ziabari
Kenneth O’Keefe: U.S. sanctions on Iran tantamount to collective punishment

The United States claims that Iran is after developing nuclear weapons, and has been repeating this allegation for nearly one decade. Although it has constantly failed to confirm its claims by presenting reliable and valid evidences and witnesses, it has imposed hard-hitting economic sanctions against Iran which have taken a heavy toll on the ordinary Iranian citizens, but interestingly haven’t demoralized them or undermined their solidarity and resistance.

11 March 2013

Hundreds of academicians, peace activists, journalists, media personalities, authors and thinkers have admitted that these sanctions are criminal and tantamount to a gross violation of human rights, but the United States officials have been relentlessly persistent on renewing the sanctions every week and every day that they are now incredibly unpopular and disliked by the Iranian people. The final objective of the sanctions, as some American officials have confessed, is to create a social unrest in Iran and pit the Iranian nation against their government, but the sanctions, despite damaging Iran’s economy, have failed to realize the malicious goal they are aimed at.

The member states of the- European Union have blindly followed the footsteps of Washington and imposed an oil embargo against Iran so as to intensify pressure on Tehran over its nuclear program. All of these pressures and threats come while there’s no single page of evidence showing that Iran’s nuclear program has diverted toward producing nuclear weapons.

In order to investigate the various aspects of the anti-Iranian sanctions, Iran Review has opened a new dossier to interview world’s renowned political commentators, academics and thinkers and ask their ideas about the sanctions, how they’re affecting Iranian people, what they are aimed at and how they will shape the future of Iran’s foreign policy.

At the first step, we conducted an extensive interview with Kenneth O’Keefe, an Irish-Palestinian citizen, peace activist and former United States marine who calls himself a citizen of the world and renounced his U.S. citizenship in 2001 in protest at the hawkish policies of the U.S. government and its support for the Israeli regime. He was onboard the MV Mavi Marmara during the Gaza flotilla raid in 2010 and was brutally attacked and beaten by the Israeli commandoes. O’Keefe has appeared on several TV and radio shows across the world and is a popular political commentator in the progressive, anti-war circles. What follows is the text of Iran Review’s interview with Kenneth O’Keefe about the sanctions imposed on Iran by the United States and the European Union.

Q: You know that the United States claims that Iran is trying to acquire nuclear weapons, and it has imposed sanctions on Iran to prevent it from doing so; but why have the sanctions swiftly diverted from disarmament and targeted the daily lives of the ordinary citizens, denying them access to foodstuff, medicine and other consumer goods?

A: I find it incredible that the United States can even get away with sanctioning another country based an accusation that it seeks nuclear weapons, while in fact the United States has thousands of nuclear weapons, has already used them twice on civilian populations and has used other weapons of mass destruction more than virtually every other nation combined, and it apparently is accepting the fact that it can tell Iran what it can or can’t do. Aside from that, if the invasion of Iraq told us anything, it told us that having no weapons of mass destruction is no defense against the American aggression. So, it’s just pure insanity that we allow the United States and the West as a whole to get away with this kind of hypocrisy. The fact that their sanctions on you are harming the civilians is just a standard part of the coarse reality. We look back to what they did to Iraq, which of course was our best friend and ally, when Saddam Hussein was killing the Iranians. We look back to the sanctions against Iraq, and Madeline Albright famously said in response to 500,000 children being dead as a direct result of the sanctions, she said she felt it was worth it. So, it’s nothing new that the United States would punish civilian populations.

We have the same thing in Gaza. Hamas, a democratically-elected government came to power. This is democracy, and you say you believe in democracy. Here you go! People made a democratic decision, and what happens? The United States supports more than sanctions, a blockade, and supports Israel and its illegal collective punishment of the people of Gaza, so what they’re doing to Iran is just normal.

Q: Do the sanctions conform to the standards of the globalized economy? Are they acceptable in the contemporary era of economic integration and globalization?

A: Well; the world is not functioning under law. It’s the color of law. So, regardless of whether or not one expert or another expert says that this is lawful, I don’t think that there’s any sane way for anyone to justify or excuse civilians being punished while in fact no crime is being committed. It’s only the accusations of an apparent crime, but I don’t even know how it could be a crime to seek nuclear weapons when in fact the United States has made it clear that it will not attack those countries that have nuclear weapons but it has not any problem whatsoever in attacking the nations that don’t have nuclear weapons and don’t even have the weapons of mass destruction.

Q: The United States has always claimed that it cares for the protection of human rights. However, don’t you think that its sanctions on Iran and banning of medicine and foodstuff and other goods are some kind of violation of human rights?

A: Well, they certainly are. It’s an act of war quite frankly and economic warfare. It punishes civilians, which is a violation of the Geneva Conventions; it’s a form of collective punishment and it’s just pure propaganda that it doesn’t harm civilian population. The United States is the biggest violator of human rights on the planet, and I say that because the United States does not only violate people’s rights in America; you’ve got the largest prisoner population in the world and the standard things that happen within the U.S. prisons are things such as anal rape. If anal rape isn’t a kind of torture and violation of human rights, then I don’t know what it is. Black people have continued to this date, despite a black president, to be treated in ways that can only be described as racist and you still have black people overwhelmingly filling the prison’s populations. You have human rights violations in very extreme ways in the United States, but more than that, the United States invests in brutal dictatorships; it props up dictatorships around the world, it rewards corrupt leaders in various parts of the world; it gives arms, weapons and what not to some of the worst regimes and Saudi Arabia can be an excellent example of a place that doesn’t have any concept of human rights. Here in the United States we talk about respect for women, and yet we give arms to and support in every single way Saudi Arabia which pretty much treats women as bad as a woman can possibly be treated. It exports human rights violations around the world. That’s what makes it the greatest perpetrator of the human rights violations in the planet; not just for what it does at home, but for what it exports around the world.

Q: Some Russian officials have admitted that the sanctions are not simply aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear program, but to create a social unrest in the country with the final objective of a regime change. What’s your viewpoint on that? How much accurate is this analysis?

A: It’s absolutely undeniable. There’s no question at all that America has an agenda of destabilizing the countries that it doesn’t approve of. It is clearly doing that to not only Iran, but obviously Syria, as it previously did in Libya. There’s no question at all that you have operatives of the CIA that will do everything they can to infiltrate the Iranian society and when they get inside, their job is to disrupt and to cause havoc, so there’s no question that this is the American policy. Even if we can’t prove it, we certainly know that they have a major incentive to carry out such a policy. It’s again historically established.

Q: Along with the expansion of the sanctions, the resistance of the Iranian nation has also increased. They reached self-sufficiency in many areas. Have the United States and its allies succeeded in harming the Iranian people and bringing them to their knees?

A: Well, they most certainly have not. They made life difficult. They have decreased the value of your currency, and obviously life is more difficult but far from bringing the Iranian people to their knees. Obviously you can see the Iranian people can withstand a hell of a lot more of what the U.S. will do to them. I have no doubt at all that despite the immense power of the U.S. military, they will never defeat the Iranian people and I have no doubt of this. There’s simply no way for an extermination of the entire population by a nuclear launch. The American people don’t have the stomach for another invasion, and even if they did, if American troops were to invade Iran, they will be immersed in a hell of a shock, and there’s no way that they’re going to achieve anything other than more body-bags being returned to America and no matter how many Iranians they will kill, I have no doubt whatsoever that the Iranians will never go to submit.

Q: It’s widely believed that around 15 to 20 percent of the current price of the oil is a result of the EU’s oil embargo against Iran. How much has the EU’s oil embargo contributed to the deterioration of the Europe’s economy, especially in the wake of the current economic crisis and depression?

A: It’s not helping the economies of the West and it’s certainly not helping America at all. This is another example of where the strings of the American puppets are being pulled by an Israeli agenda. It may suit Israel’s agenda for America to impose sanctions and cut off supply of oil which thereby increases costs to the American consumer and otherwise harms an already ailing economy. It may suit Israel’s agenda but certainly doesn’t suit America’s agenda. It certainly doesn’t suit the interests of the people so it really begs the question why America is doing this. I think the answer is pretty much clear. I think the only beneficiary of this policy is Israel.

Q: It seems that through issuing repeated war threats against Iran, Israel is trying to persuade the United States and EU countries to impose harder sanctions on Iran. How much accurate is this analysis? What’s your perspective on that?

A: Israel is going to do everything it can to increase the hardship on the Iranian people and to goad the Americans into attacking Iran and fighting another war for Israel’s interests and there’s no question about that. I would not, in any way, dismiss the very distinct possibility that Israel will carry out yet another false flag operation so that the Americans will be sucked into a war that will do nothing but again returning more body-bags to America. Israel will do anything and everything to bring hardship, discord and sow the seeds of violent conflict between the United States and Iran.

Q: Complementing the sanctions with valid threats of military strike and intelligence operations are among the most important advices given by Israel to Europe and the United States. How much successful have these countries been in realizing these goals, through assassinating Iranian nuclear scientists, gathering intelligence information, etc.?

A: They obviously have many assets, some of which would be inside Iran. You know that you obviously terrorists within Iran whose agenda only aligns with America out of convenience. America has no problem supporting terrorists when it suits its agenda. As you can see in Syria right now, America is supporting fundamentalists like Al-Qaeda, but of course Al-Qaeda is CIA and CIA is Al-Qaeda, so wherever its suits our purposes, we are happy to pay the most brutal, sadistic psychopaths to carry out violent acts and wherever they are given the opportunity to do so, they will do so, but again, that is not going to defeat the Iranian people. It’s not going to achieve the goal of getting Iran to submit. It’s not going make Iran accept Rothschild’s controlled central banks. It’s not going to achieve anything but more violence, more pain and suffering for those who get sucked into it. Again it seems to suit only one nation’s agenda, and that is Israel.

Q: And finally, do you think that the United States is entitled to the right to ask the other countries to follow its domestic policies regarding Iran, that is a policy of continued hostility and antagonism toward Iran? Can the U.S. force the other nations of the world to take a hostile stance vis-à-vis Iran?

A: In order to answer this question, I need to explain what my position is with regards to how the world functions. I actually don’t believe that the United States government itself has a real power more than any of the governments of the West. The governments are all comprised of the puppets. Those puppets do exactly what they are told. They are all prostitutes, quite frankly. They have sold their souls, whereas the prostitute on the streets sells her body. So these people what they are told and each nation has its own role. The United States is the enforcer. It’s also a political force, but mostly an enforcer; a military enforcer. And so it carries out that role. The British have become a sort of legitimizer. Although that role has become less effective because people can see that Britain is just as bad as America, on the same path as Israel, making the true Axis of Evil, if you ask me: the United States, Britain and Israel. Behind the governments, you have the real power. If you want to know the real power, then you need to know controls the issuance of money. Our traders and governments have relegated that power to the banksters, the richest of the rich, the Rothschild’s family and the other banking families, all of them blood-related, all of them operating in a secretive way, all of them carrying out an agenda which is beneficial to nobody but themselves and in fact injurious to everyone on this planet. The real powers, therefore, are not Barack Obama, David Cameron and any of these puppets. They are all only carrying out the orders, so if you want to understand the power, you need to know who controls the private control and the issuance of money so that would be the Rothschild’s family and the other banksters, and so they use the other various nations in some other ways. Israel is the Rothschild land; that’s all it is, and that’s why it has such a power. It’s not the Knesset or the Israeli people who have the real power. It’s the Rothschild family behind Israel. That’s where the power is.

By Kourosh Ziabari
March 10, 2013
Journalist, writer and media correspondent