Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

There are only a few days left in our critical Mid-Year Campaign and we truly might not make it without your help.
Please join us. If you rely on independent media, support Common Dreams today. This is crunch time. We need you now.

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive at the White House on January 05, 2020 in Washington, DC. The Trumps were returning from spending the holidays at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Bach, Florida after last week’s U.S. drone strike that killed Iranian military leader, Major Gen. Qasem Soleimani. (Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive at the White House on January 05, 2020 in Washington, DC. The Trumps were returning from spending the holidays at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Bach, Florida after last week’s U.S. drone strike that killed Iranian military leader, Major Gen. Qasem Soleimani. (Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

Trump Threatens Iraq—Previously Decimated by US Sanctions—With Sanctions 'Like They've Never Seen Before'

"First we invade you, then we break you, and then sanction you."

Jon Queally

Progressive anti-war voices expressed fresh condemnation of President Donald Trump overnight after he told reporters late Sunday that the people of Iraq would be sanctioned "like they've never seen before ever" if they follow through with an effort to force all U.S. military forces out of the country.

"It's hard to overstate how bonkers this is." —Jeet Heer, The Nation

Answering questions aboard Air Force One on his way back from a two-week vacation in Florida to the White House, Trump was asked about Sunday's passage of a two-fold resolution in the Iraqi Parliament that called on the government to expel all American troops from the country and file a United Nations complaint against the U.S. for violating Iraq's sovereignty with last week's assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad.

In response, Trump said that the U.S. would not leave on "a friendly basis" and vowed to make the Iraqis pay the U.S. back for military expenditures made in the country during the occupation that followed the 2003 invasion.

"We will charge them sanctions like they've never seen before ever. It'll make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame," Trump told the pool reporters. "If there's any hostility, that they do anything we think is inappropriate, we are going to put sanctions on Iraq, very big sanctions on Iraq." 

The fact is that the people of Iraq have seen devastating sanctions imposed by the U.S. before and the results were catastrophic. A study published in The Lancet in 1995 put the number of child deaths attributable to U.S. sanctions following the first Gulf War as high a 576,000—over a period of less than four years. While other estimates are lower—and vary depending on the time period considered—the numbers remain in the hundreds of thousands of young children who would otherwise have lived if not for the devastating—and predictable—impacts of U.S. economic and trade sanctions.

In his comments about new U.S. sanctions, Trump specifically mentioned "a very extraordinarily expensive air base" the U.S. built in Iraq. "It cost billions of dollars to build. Long before my time," Trump said. "We're not leaving, until they pay us back for it."

Given the standing international call that the U.S. should be made to pay reparations for its destruction of Iraq over the last 17 years, Trump's threats to impose crushing sanctions was met with immediate rebuke by critics.

"It's hard to overstate how bonkers this is," tweeted Jeet Heer, national-affairs correspondent for The Nation magazine.

At Anti-War.com, Jason Ditz writes:

Iraq, of course, was already under heavy US sanctions from 1989 to the 2003 invasion and occupation. The sanctions are estimated to have killed 1.6 million Iraqis, a great many of them children. Those sanctions were to punish Iraq for weapons of mass destruction that they didn't have.

Trump's threat is meant to imply he'll inflict something even worse on Iraq this time. This is perhaps even more galling in that the threat is the result not of anything wrong that Iraq has done, but just because Trump is very cross with them.

Progressive activist Derrick Crowe, meanwhile, described Trump's latest threat "as insane, imperial horseshit."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Just a few days left in our crucial Mid-Year Campaign and we might not make it without your help.
Who funds our independent journalism? Readers like you who believe in our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. No corporate advertisers. No billionaire founder. Our non-partisan, nonprofit media model has only one source of revenue: The people who read and value this work and our mission. That's it.
And the model is simple: If everyone just gives whatever amount they can afford and think is reasonable—$3, $9, $29, or more—we can continue. If not enough do, we go dark.

All the small gifts add up to something otherwise impossible. Please join us today. Donate to Common Dreams. This is crunch time. We need you now.

Flint Residents 'Disgusted' After Court Throws Out Indictments of Top Officials

"It has become increasingly clear that the judicial system is not a viable option for a poor majority Black community facing injustice," said Flint Rising.

Jessica Corbett ·


Sanders, Fetterman Urge Buttigieg to Fine Airlines Over Flight Cancellations

"The American people are sick of airlines ripping them off, canceling flights at the last minute, and delaying flights for hours on end," said the Vermont senator.

Jake Johnson ·


In Blow to Voting Rights, SCOTUS Saves Louisiana's Racially Rigged Electoral Map

"Black Louisianans deserve fair representation. The fight for racial justice and equality is far from over," vowed one civil rights group.

Brett Wilkins ·


Watching US With Horror, European Groups Push Leaders to Strengthen Abortion Rights

"This is an important moment for leaders across Europe who are committed to reproductive rights to lead by example and galvanize action in their own countries," said one campaigner.

Jake Johnson ·


Women Face Chaos, Torment as Abortion Clinics Shutter Across US

Clinic workers are attempting to get patients appointments out-of-state while women stockpile emergency contraception, fearing overcrowded clinics even in states that protect reproductive rights.

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo