Severing trade with tyrants

Around the world, there are countless brutal governments who terrorize their own people.  Yet American foreign policy regarding oppressive regimes is paradoxical.  Some we rightly shun, while others get a pass for the purpose of trade.

Political leadership in this country should call for an end to trade with any non-democratic nation, as American markets should not be financing tyranny throughout the world.  The Chinese government, one of the most notorious aggressors against human rights, is winning in a trade war against the U.S. — every American dollar spent buying "Made in China" products enriches the Chinese Communist Party.

But it's not just the Chinese.  We need to sever ties with them all.  Force American companies to choose: liberty or tyranny.  If they choose tyranny, they lose all access to American markets.

Refusing to engage in trade with oppressive nations would send a clear message to the world.  If countries want to do business with the third most populated country in the world, they must be free.

Whatever business is lost by taking the moral high road can be recouped in other countries that value freedom — increased trade between democracies is a good thing for the world.

It is time for the United States to return to being the leader of the free world.  We took on the USSR and won, and we can do the same against any nation that brings the same Soviet-style brutality to its people.

Why do we profit from theocracies around the world?  Why do we finance modern-day slavery in China and other nations?  Why do we trade with countries exploiting child labor?  Why do we conduct business with nations that treat their female citizens as less than human?

Freedom is the rising tide that lifts all ships.  Free and competing markets lead to innovation — a unique aspect that only comes from a free citizenry, and does not exist under tyranny. 

Morally, there should be no picking and choosing between tyrants — tyranny is tyranny.

We do not trade with Iran and North Korea, but we trade with China?  Is the CCP a kinder, gentler thug than the others?  Of course not.  The Chinese are just as brutal to their people as the other tyrants.

The United States should not be helping to prop up tyranny in the world.  Rather, it should be severing ties.

Now, democratic nations are not perfect.  There is no perfect government, since there are no perfect people.  However, there is some ability to redress grievances, and the government is answerable to its people, to at least some degree.

If the United States makes clear that we will trade with only democracies, future revolutions will result in at least some going the democratic route.  The more democracies there are, the better for the world.

Are there any resources that necessitate trade with a tyrannical government that we can't get at home or elsewhere in the world? 

It is certainly not energy.  We have enough oil and natural gas to crash the global economy if we wanted to unleash it on the world.

Is it rare earth minerals?  No — there are other suppliers in the world who have what we need, and the truth is far from the media narrative regarding the hype and concern.  From Scientific American:

But in the long run, many experts say the global market involving these materials would likely survive even if China completely stopped exporting them.

China has nothing we need, including access to their markets.  Most people in China are slaves to their government, lacking the resources to buy much of anything.

There is absolutely no moral reason to trade with tyrants anywhere in the world.  Continuing to trade only props up tyrants.  We cannot be the leader of the free world and trade with those who brutalize and enslave their own people.

Severing trade with tyrants is the moral thing to do.

Bob Ryan is a writer who has an MBA.  He is an American Christian Zionist who staunchly supports Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state.  He has been a weekly blogger at the Times of Israel since 2019.

Image: David Lienemann, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

If you experience technical problems, please write to