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By Jacob G. Hornberger

In his Fourth of July address to Congress in 1821, U.S. Secretary of State John Quincy Adams stated that if America were ever to abandon its founding foreign policy of non-interventionism, she would inevitably become the world’s “dictatress” and begin behaving accordingly.

No can can deny that Adams’ prediction has come true. America has truly become the world’s dictatress — an arrogant, ruthless, brutal dictatress that brooks no dissent from anyone in the world.

Now, I use the term “America” because that’s the term Adams used. In actuality, however, it’s not America that has become the world’s dictatress. It is the U.S. government that has become the world’s dictatress.

A good example of this phenomenon involves Meng Wanzhou, a Chinese citizen who serves as chief financial officer of the giant Chinese technology firm Huawei. Having been arrested by Canadian authorities and placed under house arrest, Meng is suffering the wrath of the world’s dictatress.

What is her purported crime? That she violated U.S. sanctions against Iran.

What do U.S. sanctions on Iran have to do with her? Exactly! She’s a Chinese citizen, not an American citizen. So, why is she being prosecuted by the U.S. government?

Sanctions have become a standard tool of U.S. foreign policy. With the exception of libertarians, hardly anyone raises an eyebrow over their imposition and enforcement. Their objective is to target foreign citizens with death, suffering, and economic privation as a way to bend their regime to the will of the U.S. dictratress and her brutal and ruthless agents.

After all, what could be more brutal and ruthless than to target innocent people with death and impoverishment as a way to get to their government? Most foreign citizens have as little control over the actions of their government as individual American citizens have over the actions of their government. Where is the morality in targeting innocent people, especially as a way to achieve a political goal? Isn’t that why people condemn terrorism?

It’s bad enough to target innocent foreign citizens with death and impoverishment to achieve a political goal. But it’s also important to keep in mind that sanctions are an attack on the economic liberty of the American people. Sanctions impose criminal penalties on U.S. citizens who trade with Iranians. If an American trades with Iranians, the dictatress goes after him with a vengeance, either with criminal prosecution or civil fines or both.

A good example of this phenomenon took place when the dictatress was enforcing its system of sanctions against Iraq during the 1990s. The sanctions were killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children. That’s didn’t bother the dictatress, at least not enough to bring an end to the sanctions. The idea was that if a sufficiently large number of children could be killed, Iraq’s dictator Saddam Hussein would abdicate in favor of a U.S.-approved dictator, or that there would be a coup or a violent revolution that would accomplish the same thing. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright expressed the official view of the dictatress when she announced that the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children from the sanctions were “worth it.”

An American citizen named Bert Sacks, who was stricken by a crisis of conscience, traveled to Iraq with medicines to help out the Iraqi people. The dictatress went after him with a vengeance, hitting him with a fine and then pursuing its collection for around a decade. See here and here.)

That is bad enough. But here is where Adams’ point comes into play. The federal government is not satisfied with just requiring its own citizens to comply with its evil system. In its role as worldwide dictatress, the federal government requires everyone in the world to comply with its evil system. The dictatress claims worldwide jurisdiction for its evil system of sanctions.

That’s why Meng Wanzhou was arrested and placed under house arrest in Canada. Yes, Canada! She wasn’t even in the United States when she was arrested. The dictatress announced that she had violated its Iran sanctions in some dealings that she supposedly had with some bank located thousands of miles away from American shores. The dictatress then prevailed on Canada to arrest her while she was in that country so that she could be extradited to the United States to stand trial for her purported violation of U.S. sanctions on Iran.

Why are innocent foreign citizens be targeted for death and economic suffering simply because U.S. officials don’t like their government? Why are American citizens have their freedoms destroyed for the same reason? And why are foreign citizens around the world be targeted with criminal prosecution for violating the federal government’s evil system of sanctions?

It’s all because of what John Quincy Adams observed almost 200 years ago: If the United States were ever to abandon its founding foreign policy of non-interventionism, the federal government would inevitably become the world’s dictatress, and a brutal, ruthless one at that.

This article was originally published at The Future of Freedom Foundation.

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