In Bruno Drweski, Economic Sanctions as Collective Punishment, Europe, NATO, Sanctions, USA

By Bruno Drweski,

Published on NCW, Sept 9, 2022:

It is already well-known that the United States is waging a proxy war on Russia through Ukraine and is willing to ‘fight to the last Ukrainian’. The ongoing destruction being wreaked by European sanctions on Russia on Europe itself raises, however, the question of whether the United States is also waging a war of a certain sort on Europe, which it seems to want to fight to the last European.

Exclusive to the New Cold War website, we publish here an English translation of the speech given by Bruno Drweski’s to the Académie de Géopolitique de Paris, which explores these realities. They remind us that NATO, in Lord Ismay’s words, at once apocryphal and infamous, aimed to ‘Keep the Americans in, the Russians out and the Germans down’ in Europe.

Translation by Arnold August

Recommended reading: The Specter of Germany Is Rising – By Diana Johnstone

Cliquez ici pour lire en français : Alignement de la politique internationale européenne sur celle des États-Unis

(Academy of Geopolitics – September 2022)

The current international situation with the generalization and exacerbation of extreme sanctions taken by the European Union and its member governments, and aimed at countries targeted for political reasons, has several characteristics that are ultimately surprising:

– These sanctions are meant to target Russia, just as previous sanctions were meant to target Iran, Syria, Cuba and more than a dozen other countries,

– But these sanctions are in fact aimed at the interests of European companies and European populations at least as often and sometimes even more often,

– At a time when, for its part, the United States is continuing, and sometimes even increasing where necessary for its economy, its own trade with Russia or with other countries that it is targeting in principle.

 It is therefore important to ask the question of the ultimate goal of sanctions policies, and of the enemy that is really targeted by the United States, since it is certain that the dynamic of sanctions around the world for several decades has undoubtedly had an origin on the other side of the Atlantic.

What are the objectives, causes and effects of sanctions policies?

The current crisis between Russia and the NATO countries, with the use of the tool of sanctions at an unprecedented level, allows us to go back in time, to analyze with hindsight and with a much sharper eye the whole process that has led to these successive sanctions, blockades and stigmatizations by European states against very different states, Russia, Iran, Syria, Cuba, Belarus, Korea (North), Venezuela, Yemen, Zimbabwe, Iraq, China, etc. We have indeed reached a peak in international tensions that should make any human being with a capacity for rational analysis think.

The United States is now officially and directly confronting some twenty states in the world and, each time, after some hesitation that can be observed in the case of Iran, Cuba or Venezuela, for example, the member countries of the EU have finally aligned themselves, officially or not, with these policies of marginalization of Washington’s declared enemies. The latter is now confronted above all by three countries: Russia, Iran and China. Strategic logic would suggest that the United States should seek to separate these three enemies from each other instead of targeting them together, whereas in fact, it is pushing them closer together by supporting a bloc logic, aimed above all at securing support for them from the small powers of the EU, Japan, the other Anglo-Saxon countries and their direct allies or protégés. This raises the question of who Washington’s real adversaries are, and in what order of importance.

The economic logic would indeed like on the other hand that the European countries cooperate with each of the three countries mentioned above and which undergo various sanctions which are both commercial and scientific but which cannot be analyzed without resorting to geo-economic factors, since Europe has a direct continental access to these Eurasian and Asian countries whereas the United States, seen from Europe, occupies a peripheral place. We can therefore see from these contradictions that the United States certainly aims to exclude (and perhaps eventually to conquer?) Russia, Iran and China from the circle of nations cooperating with them, but that their main present concern is in Europe, in their own camp, whose submission must first be guaranteed before they can even really target their external adversaries. This explains why, instead of taking advantage of the potential competition on the gas and oil market between Russia and Iran, for example, the Europeans are applying sanctions that increase energy prices and hit themselves first. The North American sanctions policy thus prevents the Europeans from playing on the competition for the benefit of their own economies. As a result, instead of falling, energy costs are rising, threatening Europe’s supply and making it even more dependent on even more expensive energy, that of North American shale gas. Knowing that the other gas producing countries are not in a position to substantially increase their own production.

It is therefore not on the basis of economic interests that the powers within the EU and therefore also within NATO can legitimize the policy of sanctions and cold war aimed at the countries excluded from the “Western center”. Hence the need to appeal to ideological arguments, human rights, women’s rights, the rights of real or invented minorities, etc., coupled with the agitated fear of “threats” posed by countries like Iran, Russia, Korea, etc. However, any thoughtful observer can only dismiss this idealistic argument out of hand, given the often much more lamentable state of these rights in many states carried at arm’s length by Washington and the European powers, absolutist petro-monarchies, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Israel, Egypt, Sudan, Rwanda, Colombia, etc., to give just a few examples. As for threats, as far as the atomic bomb is concerned, it is clear that since 1948 Israel has been a hotbed of warlike intentions and recurrent threats far more durable than any of the states targeted by sanctions and stigmatization. As for the number of armed aggressions, the countries denounced by Washington and European leaders have not participated, or have played a minor role, in the list of conflicts of the last thirty years, Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Gaza, Syria, and Donbass since 2014. So we have to look elsewhere for the fundamental reasons why we are presented with a list of target states. Countries with economies that are otherwise potentially capable by their very economic development of pushing North America to the periphery and promoting modes of development that are not necessarily centered on the core of a military-industrial complex.

We can therefore see that the decision-makers within the EU defend neither their own economic interests nor their declared moral values when they embark on policies of intervention, interference, blockade or sanctions. On the             other hand, one can notice that they follow, sometimes after some fleeting hesitations, policies that have their sources in Washington or on Wall Street and that correspond exactly to the interests of the military-industrial, chemical-pharmaceutical, agro-industrial and energetic sectors of the large transnational corporations that are mainly based across the Atlantic….and whose interests do not necessarily correspond to those of the mass of the inhabitants of the United States, hence the phenomena of discontent that give rise to “populist” movements such as the Tea Party or Trump, but also to the recent rise of socialist ideas among the youth of North America.

This situation does not date from yesterday, President Eisenhower had already mentioned it in his departure speech, but it has been clearly reinforced since 1991, when the EU found itself without a counterweight to its protector, at the same time as its industries were caught up in a neo-liberal logic of an “open” market that it did not control, since it was linked to the reign of the dollar and “terms of trade” concocted in Wall Street, and that late capitalism, virtual and financialized, found itself placed in the logic of a globalized headlong rush that was less and less productive.

 All European countries have followed the Anglo-American Thatcherite policy of “Reaganomics” one after the other, even if Germany has been able to retain some of its productive capacity, which has ensured it a hegemonic position within the European Union, partly because of its trade agreements with Russia and China. It is therefore Germany that the United States is attacking today as a priority, since it is in a dominant position in the European theater and, in this geographical context, it is necessary to invent the idea of the entre-trois-mers as a cordon sanitaire cutting Germany and Europe off from its Eurasian and Asian rear.

All this raises the question of how it is that countries that are in principle independent can pursue policies that are the opposite of those of their economic elites and their peoples. This leads us to note that, in Europe, the North American worm was to be found in the fruit not just since 1991, but since at least 1945. It is clear that it was at that time that the occupying power, the United States, mastered the process of building the new states reconstituted after the war, in Germany and Italy of course, but also in several other “allied” countries. In France, they had also planned the creation of an occupation government with an occupation dollar, the “AMGOT,” but the entrenchment of two local forces, Gaullism and the Communist Party, made it possible to curb these hegemonic ardours. Nevertheless, the revival of Pétainist circles linked to the policy of collaboration during the Nazi occupation and the long period of colonial wars, from 1946 to 1962, contributed to maintaining networks of power in France that relied on the United States to survive… and that finally allowed them to regain a foothold in French politics, while the defenders of a French “specificity,” on the right as well as on the left, saw their positions crumble after the two successive shocks of 1968-69 and then of 1989-91. To this must be added the immense role of the American cultural hegemony since the end of the Second World War, a psychological hegemony that also brought great financial benefits to its promoters. In this regard, we should mention the information provided by German journalist Udo Ulfkotte and the studies that, for example, show the role played in France by the EHESS/MSH to promote an “American left” that could counter the CNRS in the field of research, and both Gaullism and Communism in the intellectual world. Moreover, we know today that the European Union project was promoted in the United States from the beginning in such a way that it took over for the Germans the mental habits of the Germanic Holy Roman Empire, whose internal contradictions and institutional blockages made it ungovernable, and capable of being permanently bogged down in insoluble internal tensions. Let us recall that the fathers of Europe, in France, Jean Monnet and Robert Schuman, were enemies of Gaullism and of course of communism, and that Walter Hallstein, for West Germany, had been the jurist of Hitler’s “new European order” before tackling the Brussels institutions.

The intellectual, cultural, scientific and economic elites, independent of these circles of influence, as well as public opinion in European societies, are often well aware of the sterilizing character of the functioning of NATO, as a gendarme, and of the EU, as an economic controller, but also of the counter-productive character, in relation to their interests, of the policies of marginalization, exclusion, sanctions and blockades aimed at Iran, Russia, Belarus, Cuba, China, etc. This can be seen in a thorough analysis of opinion polls. The same is true if one hears what many diplomats, policemen, military officers and former secret service executives say mezzo voce, even if the NATO or EU channels open up attractive prospects for promotion. But the existing structures are there to block any dissident path within them.

This contributes to the acceleration of tensions and therefore of history, and what we are witnessing at the moment is the fact that the current world crisis is that of the entire “globalized virtual economy” and its carrier currency, the dollar. So if the US has succeeded in controlling its vassals and excluding its potential competitors, it finds itself, after thirty years of neoliberal policies without counterbalance, in the situation well-known in history of an empire blocked by its own extension, gangrenous by gigantic and immobilizing administrative structures and on the way to stagnation, and therefore in the long run to decadence. This implies for them that they should lead policies of permanent tension and war to preserve an acquired domination that no longer makes any sense and that the vassals would leave if they were not under permanent pressure, in a logic of war against enemies that are at least partly imaginary.

Where is Europe?

Europe, as we should know, is not strictly speaking a continent, since it is a peninsula of Asia, and with the recent technological developments in the fields of transport, this geographical fact becomes more important than in older times when the intra-continental routes were not really in a position to compete with the maritime routes. And this European subcontinent is also the direct neighbour, via the Mediterranean, of Africa and Western Asia. The North Atlantic “drift” of European civilization from the shores of the Mediterranean in recent centuries is a de facto Anglo-Saxon drift, which is losing some of its original dynamism. And the United States is well aware that it is threatened with peripheralization in the event of continued development of East Asia, West Asia and the countries of the Eurasian interior. This explains the brutality of the policies of sanctions and wars that have been carried out since 1991, because previously, in the framework of the bipolar world, the island maritime powers had significant advantages over the continental forces, which at the time were in a peripheral situation.

The only way to block the “natural” geo-economic and geopolitical evolution of Europe at a time when new transport and communication technologies are pushing it towards Eurasia (Russia and its neighbours), Western Asia (Iran and its neighbours), Eastern Asia (China and its neighbours) and Africa, is through walls, sanctions, blockades and wars. And to achieve this, it is necessary to maintain the hegemony of the dollar and the SWIFT system at all costs, not by playing on the industrialists or the European working classes, who are objectively opposed to this policy, but by playing on the agents of influence and their networks established since 1945, in the cultural domain, in the media domain (the “virtual world”), in the political parties, in the administrations, in the security and military forces, etc. It should be remembered that the vast majority of economic espionage that we see in Europe comes from across the Atlantic, while the repression of these phenomena is almost non-existent and the media very rarely addresses this issue. This cannot be due to chance.

Despite popular and national “sovereigntist” resistance here and there, European countries do not have leaders in positions of authority who can respond to the collective interests of their societies, and this is also why denunciations of sanctions policies aimed at Iran, Syria or Russia, among others, are mostly lost in the desert. Because the elites in Europe are unwilling or unable to take the means to be autonomous, which would allow them to free themselves from the permanent blackmail of the extra-territorial law proclaimed on the banks of the Potomac, and which all humanity has an interest in seeing disappear. Regardless of what one may think of this or that political regime of a target country or of another.

All observers of the economic scene agree today on the fact that the dominant globalized system is in a deep, existential crisis, and that there is no other way out than the reconstruction of developmentalist, productivist and re-industrialization policies. Of course, taking into account the question of the necessary environmental balance, but to be preserved in a dynamic way and not static or regressive as the “neo-Malthusian” theorists of global warming would too often like to impose on us today. A policy of re-industrialization and re-localization is the indispensable condition for a revival of our European societies, and it is also in the interest of all the peoples targeted by the sanctions policies. But if, in the case of Iran or Russia, we see that these countries have alternative development perspectives, even if this may be costly for them in the short term, in the case of European countries, the sanctions policies risk throwing them off the train of history for good.

Today, as can be seen from the votes in the United Nations General Assembly on sanctions against Russia, 85% of humanity represented by their states is distancing itself from the “Western bloc” that until recently claimed to call itself “the international community.” The positions taken against the dollar by countries as different as India, Saudi Arabia and Brazil, the requests to join the BRICS+, the Non-Aligned Movement, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, etc., all demonstrate, for those who are still capable of seeing and looking, that a considerable shift is taking place in the world towards multipolarity and the limitation of the United States’ capacity to influence. The peoples of Europe are therefore seeing an “alternative continent” opening up before their eyes, on which they can rely to rebalance international relations, in the economic, political and security fields. To do this, they must first get out of the mental straitjacket that pushed the European elites in the 20th century to see the “West” as being definitively placed at the centre of the world, which led some to pursue policies of collaboration with the powerful Westerners of the moment, yesterday Nazi Germany, today the United States. The development of alternative currents, multipolar in principle and therefore opposed to the very logic of sanctions, is in the interest of the peoples of the world, including Europeans and Americans, hence the emergence of what the establishment of the unipolar system contemptuously calls “populisms,” due to the lack of intellectual elites who carry these projects in many countries. These currents are certainly heterogeneous and sometimes threatening, but they represent something much deeper, the desire of all peoples and all human beings to control their own destiny here and now, and in the long term the desire for equality in international and national cooperation.

Bibliographic guidance:

– Louis Adam, <>

– AMGOT , <é_des_territoires_occupés >

– Bruno Drweski,

1/ ” Le conflit Russie-Ukraine : contexte mondial et facteurs locaux “, in La Russie sans oeillères – Du conflit en Ukraine au tournant géopolitique mondial, Delga 2022, pp. 13-28.

2/ “The Baltic-Black Sea Isthmus (Ukraine, Belarus, Poland, Hungary…) or the ideal blocking point of the Asia-Eurasia-Europe cooperation process”, in La Russie sans oeillères – Du conflit en Ukraine au tournant géopolitique mondial, Delga, 2022, pp. 307-320

– Richard Kuisel, The Americanization of France (1945-1970), < >

– A. Garapon and P. Servan-Schreiber (eds.), Deals of Justice, The American Market of Globalized Obedience, Puf, 2013.

– Marion Leblanc-Wohrer, “Law as an Economic and Geopolitical Weapon of the United States,” Foreign Policy, 2019, Hivr, nᵒ 4, p. 37.

– Tamara Kunanayakam,

1/ ” La ‘nouvelle guerre froide’ ou ‘la guerre impossible’ “, in La Chine sans oeillères – Tout ce que vous avez toujours voulu savoir…, Delga 2021, pp. 29-50.

 2/ ” Le jour où le vaste monde s’est rebellé “, in La Russie sans oeillères – Du conflit en Ukraine au tournant géopolitique mondial, Delga 2022, pp. 231-264 (see also Annexes, pp. 321 – 340)

– Domenico Moro, The Bilderberg Group – the global power “elite”, Delga 2014, 238 pp.

– Nicholas Mulder, The Economic Weapon: The Rise of Sanctions As a Tool of Modern War, Yale University Press, 2022.

– Udo Ulfkotte, Gekaufte Journalisten – Wie Politiker, Geheimdienste und Hochfinanz Deutschlands Massenmedien lenken, Rottenburg am Neckar, Kopp Verlag, 2014.


Bruno Drweski is a historian, political scientist, HDR lecturer at INALCO, former editor-in-chief of La Pensée and International Research, co-founder and former member of the management of Espaces Marx, editor at Ruptures. He is also an active member of the ARAC [Association républicaine des anciens combattants], and an author of books and articles on Eastern Europe and the Arab world.


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