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Last Monday, I was drawn to Eric Schansberg’s lecture on Chris­tianity and lib­er­tar­i­anism — a subject that inter­ested me because I con­sider myself a Christian and lib­er­tarian. He pre­sented three cri­teria that Chris­tians or lib­er­tarians could use to evaluate any policy: it must be ethical, con­sistent, and prac­tical.

In order for a policy to be ethical, he explained, the ends must achieve the common good by upholding justice, while employing means that min­imize unin­tended con­se­quences for innocent indi­viduals. A gov­ernment must enforce policies the same way in every cir­cum­stance for a policy to be con­sistent. And a prac­tical policy must be capable of suc­cess­fully achieving the desired end.

With these cri­teria in mind, it is clear that Iranian sanc­tions are not a good policy.

Iran threatens Israel and the West through its attempts to produce a nuclear bomb, and the United States is more than jus­tified in seeking a policy to prevent a political Islamist regime from becoming armed with atom-splitting fire­power. But the U.S. must proceed with caution in the future nego­ti­a­tions with their new pres­ident.

I pray there will not be another nuclear standoff with Iran; but sanc­tions are not means by which we will achieve the end of non-pro­lif­er­ation. In fact, I believe sanc­tions are an unethical way of trying to prevent Iran from attaining a nuclear bomb.

The goal of the sanc­tions is to stop Iran from devel­oping a nuclear weapon, an ethical end in itself. While I think it should remain the goal of our foreign policy in the future, sanc­tions as the means are not ethical.

The fact is the real impact of the sanc­tions has landed on the civilians. The Iranian economy is in shambles, cur­rency and nec­essary med­ica­tions are scarce because imports and bank activity are so heavily restricted.

The sanc­tions deny the Iranian people the ability to pursue a good life. Because they are unable to obtain what they need legally, they must turn to smug­glers and the black markets, where, even there, sup­plies are scarce. In reality, the sanc­tions are pun­ishing the civilians for the wrongs of the gov­ernment,  which, essen­tially, goes unpun­ished.

Iranian civilians showed their frus­tration with the pre­vious regime during the Green Rev­o­lution in 2011 and 2012. However, the weight of a healthy gov­ernment crushed the pro­testers, exposing the dis­parity in strength between the gov­ernment and civilians. Without decades of sanc­tions, Iran may have fol­lowed other Middle Eastern nations by changing regimes.

Regarding con­sis­tency, the U.S. has con­demned the pro­lif­er­ation of Iran and North Korea, as well as their bel­ligerent atti­tudes and rhetoric. In fact, the U.S. dis­courages any country acquiring nuclear weapons.  While this stance of non-pro­lif­er­ation is com­mendable, it is time to find a better policy to carry out this goal.

Unin­tended con­se­quences on the civilians, as well as the fact that sanc­tions are not a prac­tical solution for Iranian pro­lif­er­ation, war­rants the aban­donment this policy. Even if we tightened sanc­tions, as advo­cated by some in Con­gress, it would not slow down the progress of their nuclear program, if that is indeed their goal.

While we may have con­sis­tency going for our sanction policy, sanc­tions as means to stop Iranian pro­lif­er­ation are not ethical nor are they prac­tical. Scoring one out of three — a whopping 33%.  It is time to acknowledge our policy failure and pursue a new, more prac­tical policy to stop Iran.

Instead of con­tinuing sanc­tions, our pol­i­cy­makers should devote time to devel­oping a more ethical and effective policy. Our current approach to Iran will only exac­erbate the sit­u­ation, pun­ishing civilians and further polar­izing Iran from the West.