by Michael Krieger, Liberty Blitzkrieg: There is a true law, a right reason, conformable to nature, universal, unchangeable, eternal, whose commands urge us to duty, and whose prohibitions restrain us from evil. Whether it enjoins or forbids, the good respect its injunctions, and the wicked treat them with indifference. This law cannot be contradicted by any other law, and is not liable either to derogation or abrogation.
Neither the senate nor the people can give us any dispensation for not obeying this universal law of justice. It needs no other expositor and interpreter than our own conscience. It is not one thing at Rome and another at Athens; one thing today and another tomorrow; but in all times and nations this universal law must for ever reign, eternal and imperishable. It is the sovereign master and emperor of all beings. God himself is its author,—its promulgator,—its enforcer. He who obeys it not, flies from himself, and does violence to the very nature of man. For his crime he must endure the severest penalties hereafter, even if he avoid the usual misfortunes of the present life.
– Marcus Tullius Cicero
There’s been a lot going on this week, so it’s unsurprising that an extremely important vote in Congress failed to get the attention it deserves. What I’m referring to is the recent Russia/Iran/North Korea sanctions bill passed by the House of Representatives in a frighteningly lopsided 419-3 vote.
Let’s turn to Bloomberg for a quick analysis on the Russian reaction:
Russia threatened to retaliate against new sanctions passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, saying they made it all but impossible to achieve the Trump administration’s goal of improved relations.
The measures push U.S.-Russia ties into uncharted territory and “don’t leave room for the normalization of relations” in the foreseeable future, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Wednesday, according to the Interfax news service.
Hope “is dying” for improved relations because the scale of “the anti-Russian consensus in Congress makes dialogue impossible and for a long time,” Konstantin Kosachyov, chairman of the international affairs committee in Russia’s upper house of parliament, said on Facebook. Russia should prepare a response to the sanctions that’s “painful for the Americans,” he said.
The bill, passed by a vote of 419-3 on Tuesday, would strengthen sanctions against Russia less than three weeks after President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin held their first official meeting at the Group of 20 summit. The measure, which now goes to the Senate, would let Congress block any effort by Trump to unilaterally weaken sanctions imposed under the Obama administration for Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential elections and its support for separatists in Ukraine. The White House has sent mixed signals about whether Trump will sign the bill.
U.S. Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said Wednesday that senators want to examine North Korea sanctions added to the bill by the House. If senators insist on changes to the bill, passage could be delayed, possibly until September, when lawmakers return from a recess.
“We all want this to become law before we leave here for the recess,” Corker told reporters in Washington. He added: “The White House doesn’t like this bill. The State Department doesn’t like this bill. This bill is going to become law, OK.”
The sanctions are “pretty sad from the viewpoint of Russian-American relations and prospects for developing them, and no less depressing from the perspective of international law and international trade,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Wednesday on a conference call. Putin will decide on a response if the bill becomes law, he said.
Trump will sign the law because “he’s a prisoner of Congress and anti-Russian hysteria,” Alexei Pushkov, a senator in Russia’s upper house of parliament, said on Twitter. The sanctions are “a new stage of confrontation,” he said.
Russia has prepared “economic and political measures that will be adopted if the Senate and Trump support the bill,” said Vladimir Dzhabarov, deputy chairman of the international affairs committee in the upper house, the RIA Novosti news service reported. Relations with the U.S. “are at such a low level that we have nothing to lose” by retaliating, he said.
To summarize, the entire House of Representatives other than three Republicans, Justin Amash of Michigan, Thomas Massie of Kentucky, and John Duncan of Tennessee, voted for this thing. Not a single Democrat voted against the sanctions.
We supposedly live in a “representative democracy,” but 99% of our so-called representatives voted for this bill. Does this really represent the will of 99% of the public? These are the kind of numbers you’d expect to see in totalitarian states, and the ironic thing is the vote was driven by a desire to put a stop to supposedly fascist Trump. We’ve got much bigger problems than Trump.
Michael Tracey put it perfectly on Twitter earlier today:
The complete conformity of views in the political/media class re: sanctions -- virtually no dissent at all -- should be a major warning sign
— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) July 26, 2017
As troubling as the bill is for relations with nuclear armed Russia where tensions are already high, the response from European allies is arguably more concerning.