President Trump’s sanctions against Iran have intersected with his trade war against China. The intersection comes in the form of the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, an executive with Huawei Technologies, one of the most prominent companies in China. Meng was arrested by Canadian officials on the request of U.S. officials as she was changing planes in Vancouver.
U.S. officials are now seeking Meng’s extradition to face criminal charges in the United States. The charges? Get this: They are alleging that she violated Trump’s sanctions against Iran.
What? Meng isn’t a U.S. citizen. What does she have to do with Trump’s sanctions against Iran?
Well, you see, when the U.S. government imposes sanctions on a foreign country, it expects not just U.S. citizens to comply with its dictates. It expects everyone in the world to comply with its dictates. That’s how the U.S. worldwide empire operates. The empire has worldwide jurisdiction. Its criminal laws apply to everyone in the world. Our country’s ruler issues the orders, and everyone in the world must obey or face the prospect of being arrested, brought to the United States, and placed in a federal penitentiary.
Meng’s arrest, of course, cannot be divorced from Trump’s trade war against China. By arresting Meng, Trump, the self-labeled “Tariff Man,” is obviously upping the ante in his trade war to bring further pressure to bear on China to succumb to his trade demands.
That might happen. But it is also possible that something else might happen. Executives of major U.S. companies who travel to China now might well find themselves in the same straits that Meng finds herself. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if lots of U.S. businessmen suddenly find reasons not to travel to China.
How can any of this Trumpian nonsense be considered good for the American people? How can it possibly be reconciled with the principles of a free society?
It is not the job of the president of the United States to be a negotiator or agent for U.S. businesses. It is not his job to rectify any trade injustices in foreign countries. If American businessmen don’t like the trade conditions in some foreign country, there is a simple remedy: Negotiate better terms or just stay out of that country. No American businessman needs for Trump to be his daddy and to wage trade wars on his behalf.
By the same token, it is not the job of the president of the United States to target the citizenry of a foreign country with economic privation and death as a way to secure regime change in that country. That’s what Trump is doing with his sanctions on Iran. He’s trying to kill or impoverish as many Iranians as he can until the Iranian regime cries, “We’ve had enough. We’ll do whatever you say. Please, just stop killing and impoverishing our citizens.”
Trump’s trade wars and his sanctions are moral, economic, and political abominations. They infringe on the fundamental, God-given right of people to travel and trade with whomever they want. They bring untold misery, suffering, and death to countless innocent people. And they engender ever-increasing and unnecessary anger and hatred toward the American people, making it unsafe for Americans to travel around the world.
Unfortunately, Trump’s sanctions and embargoes reflect the statist mindset of the entire conservative movement. A perfect example was a December 6 article in the Washington Post by columnist Marc A. Theissen, who is a standard conservative.
Thiessen extols Trump for waging his trade war against China and praises his toughness in confronting Chinese officials. He ridicules China for retaliating against Midwest farmers, who, he said, continue to support Trump and his war despite massive economic losses. As he put it, “China went for a kill shot — and ended up shooting itself in the foot.” He says that the arrest of Meng show that Trump is feeling “emboldened.”
That’s the standard conservative position on trade and economic liberty. Unfortunately, it also happens to be the standard progressive-leftist-socialist position as well, as reflected by the minimal amount of criticism coming from the left against Trump’s trade wars and sanctions.
It is only we libertarians who are standing foursquare against Tariff Man, both on his sanctions and his trade wars. Sanctions and trade wars destroy freedom. They destroy prosperity. They destroy harmony. They are the essence of tyranny and oppression.
Unilaterally lift all U.S. sanctions and embargoes. Unilaterally end all U.S. trade wars. Unilaterally lift all tariffs and trade restrictions. No trade negotiations and no trade treaties are necessary. Just free the American people, including American businesses, to travel and buy and sell with whomever they want anywhere in the world without U.S. governmental interference, taxation, regulation, or control. That is the key to liberty, peace, harmony, and prosperity.
Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.