The Banality of Evil on Sanctions

by | Mar 25, 2021


The banality of evil within the mainstream press when it comes to actions carried out by the US national-security establishment never ceases to amaze me. The latest example appears in the New York Times in an investigative piece that absolutely stunned me. The piece consists of a video that details an extensive investigation into a ship that was suspected of violating the system of economic sanctions that the US government and the UN have imposed on North Korea.

The video was put together by what the Times calls its “Visual Investigative Team.” The video, according to the Times, “examines the maze of connections behind secret oil deliveries to North Korea, in defiance of international sanctions.” There are five staff members who were assigned this task. They say that they “spent months reviewing ship-tracking data, corporate records and satellite imagery to uncover one way North Korea evades strict international sanctions.” They didn’t say how much their investigation cost but my hunch is at least a few million dollars.

To which I ask: Who cares? Or to put it another way: Why shouldn’t North Korea evade those “strict international sanctions”? What’s wrong with doing so? Why should their attempts to evade the sanctions be investigated and reported on by the US mainstream press?

I can’t help but think that those types of questions never enter the minds of the people serving on that investigative team. Their assumption is undoubtedly that since the US and UN imposed the sanctions, they must be legitimate and, therefore, that it is illegitimate for North Korea to be violating them.

After all, that investigative team could have instead spent their time, efforts, and money studying the horrific effects of the sanctions on the people of North Korea. For example, an extensive study of the deaths from starvation would have been edifying. So would an examination of how the sanctions have contributed, in combination with North Korea’s socialist economic system, to the economic impoverishment of the North Korean people.

There is another important point to consider about what the Times has done with its investigation: Its research into how North Korea evades the sanctions could assist the US national-security state to clamp down on such evasive efforts. Clamping down would, of course, help to bring about more deaths and more suffering among the North Korean people.

The mindset of those investigators is obviously mired in the notion that the US and UN are the “good guys” and North Korea is the “bad guy.” The “good guy” has imposed the sanctions. The “bad guy” is evading the sanctions. So they do an extensive investigation into how the “bad guy” is evading the “good guy’s” sanctions. If the investigation helps the “good guy” to enforce his sanctions, so be it. After all, he’s the “good guy.”

That’s been the mindset of most of the mainstream press ever since the US government was converted to a national-security state after World War II, with the ostensible mission of preventing the United States from being enveloped by what US officials said was an international communist conspiracy that was supposedly based in Moscow, Russia. (Yes, that Russia — the same Russia with which US officials and the mainstream press are still so obsessed today.)

North Korea was supposedly part of that supposed international communist conspiracy. That’s why the US and UN intervened in the Korean civil war in the early 1950s. The idea was that if North Korea were permitted to win the war, the Reds would soon be taking control of the United States.

It’s also why the CIA had such an easy time recruiting assets within the US mainstream press as part of its secret Operation Mockingbird. Publishers, editors, and reporters considered it a big honor to be serving the CIA as a trusted asset in the global war on communism.

The mainstream mindset is the same when it comes to Cuba. The US government has maintained a strict economic embargo on that country since 1959. In combination with Cuba’s socialist system, the embargo has squeezed the lifeblood out of the Cuban people.

Yet, how often have we seen the mainstream press over the past several decades objecting to the evil and immorality of that embargo? Rarely. The assumption has simply been that the “good guy” has the legitimate authority to impose an embargo on the “bad guy.” Even when some in the mainstream press now call for ending the embargo, more often than not it’s because they “haven’t worked” rather than the fact that they are evil and immoral.

And why is Cuba considered to be the “bad guy.” Because it is ruled by a communist regime. In the eyes of the US national-security establishment, that automatically makes it the “bad guy” and, therefore, subject to sanctions and embargoes that kill and impoverish its citizens. For that matter, it also means that the “good guy” wields the authority to assassinate people serving in the regime of the “bad guy.” Of course, a dark irony in all this is how the mainstream press praises these “bad guys” for developing and maintaining such socialist programs as government-provided old-age retirement benefits (i.e., Social Security), government-provided healthcare (i.e. Medicare and Medicaid), and government-provided education for children (i.e., public schooling).

The fact is that from a moral, legal, and constitutional perspective, the US government and the UN have no legitimate authority to impose sanctions or embargoes on North Korea, Cuba, or anyone else. For that matter, the US government and the UN never had the legitimate authority to involve themselves in the Korean War and kill millions of Koreans in the process. The US government also never had the legitimate authority to assassinate any Cuban official, including Cuba’s leader Fidel Castro.

Moreover, North Korea has the legitimate authority to use nuclear weapons to deter or defend against another US military attack on their country, especially given the willingness of US officials to use nuclear weapons on populated cities. Under what authority do the US government and the UN deny people the right of self-defense? Let’s not forget, after all, that the United States is still formally at war with North Korea given that no peace treaty was ever signed to end the Korean War. Let’s also not forget that the US war is illegal under our form of government, given that Congress has never declared war on North Korea, as the Constitution requires.

These are the types of points that unfortunately the mainstream press rarely raises. They just assume that the US government and the UN must be in the right and that their targeted regimes must be in the wrong. They are unable to break out of that pro-national-security state mindset, which is why they waste their time, efforts, and money in studying how people are violating sanctions rather than pursuing the moral high ground by investigating and reporting on the horrific consequences of sanctions, with the aim of bringing them to an end.

Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.


  • Jacob G. Hornberger

    Jacob George Hornberger is an American attorney, author, and politician who was a Libertarian candidate for president in 2000 and 2020. He is the founder and president of the Future of Freedom Foundation.

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