Sanctions Are Useless Without Implementation

By Lynda Lamp

It was a rough summer in America. Instead of playing we spent our days worrying. And we’re still worrying and watching as America’s international relationships with multiple countries fall into complete disarray, chaos and even threaten war.

Sanctions Are Punishment

The three countries the Trump Administration seems to have the most difficulty with are North Korea, Iran, and Russia. It has been a long-standing tradition that the way America shows their displeasure with other countries is to sanction them. Sanctions are the way we control the interactions we have with other countries. It also controls the way other countries can interact with us.

On August 2, 2017, President Trump signed into law the “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.” He signed the act reluctantly and begrudgingly because he knew he could not veto the act. The House and the Senate had passed it with almost unanimous support. Therefore Trump knew they could and would override his veto. He got skunked into signing the act against his “friends.” Trump was given 60 days by Congress to implement the law and to spell out what entities belong to Russia’s defense and intelligence sectors.

Signing Isn’t The Same As Implementing

Sign it, Trump did but as of Friday morning, September 29, 2017, nothing further had happened.  This spurred John McCain, the Republican chairman of the Armed Services Committee, and Ben Cardin, the ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee to write the Administration a letter.

In the letter, as seen by Reuters, the Senators drew attention to the lack of effort made by the White House.

Also, with just two days to go, his administration has not provided information related to Russia’s defense and intelligence sectors required under the measure by Sunday, they said.

Can you imagine what the leaders of these countries think when a Sanctions Act is signed and then languishes for lack of implementation? The message sent from our President to these countries is: “I am with you, not America.”

At Least Someone Cares About Implementing Sanctions

In the letter to the White House from Senators McCain and Cardin, they wrote:

“Congress’ swift and united action, and your signature, sent a strong message to our allies and adversaries alike, and particularly to those such as Russia, who have sought to undermine our democracy,” said the letter, dated Thursday.

“Now, as critical deadlines are approaching, it is imperative that your Administration implement the law to its fullest extent to uphold and protect American interests,” it said.

Thank goodness for these Senators staying on top of the situation. Although how about next time you don’t wait so long? We’re all busy. But next time, put a reminder on your calendar! What message are you sending when you wait till 48 hours before the deadline to say something.

The Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act includes provisions that will keep the President from lifting sanctions in the future without an act of Congress. President Trump was not happy about that clause.  It should be no surprise to any of us that he’s dragging his feet implementing the sanctions.

The Implementation Deadline is Ticking

The sanctions law imposes new, stiff sanctions on Russia for their efforts to interfere in the 2016 United States election. It also sanctions Iran for their ballistic missile program. Finally, it sanctions North Korea for their nuclear weapons development.

But it’s not that simple. We don’t just issue a law and then sit back.  Once a law is created, it’s a requirement that it be spelled out how the law will be implemented. The deadline for implementation is October 1, 2017.

Apparently, the Trump Administration doesn’t know how this works. Or they have just been stonewalling the effort.

After receiving the Senator’s letter on Friday, the White House finally issued a presidential memorandum regarding the sanctions act. In the memorandum, the different agencies designated with starting the sanctions process were identified.

Will that be enough or come October 1, 2017, will the sanctioned countries just laugh at us?

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