of Congressman Paul on HR 180
Accountability and Divestment Act
Madam Speaker, HR 180 is premised on the assumption that divestment,
sanctions, and other punitive measures are effective in influencing repressive
regimes, when in fact nothing could be further from the truth.
Proponents of such methods fail to remember that where goods cannot cross
borders, troops will. Sanctions
against Cuba, Iraq, and numerous other countries failed to topple their
governments. Rather than weakening
dictators, these sanctions strengthened their hold on power and led to more
suffering on the part of the Cuban and Iraqi people. To the extent that divestment effected change in South
Africa, it was brought about by private individuals working through the market
to influence others.
No one denies that the humanitarian situation in Darfur is dire, but the
United States government has no business entangling itself in this situation,
nor in forcing divestment on unwilling parties.
Any further divestment action should be undertaken through voluntary
means and not by government fiat.
180 is an interventionist piece of legislation which will extend the power of
the federal government over American businesses, force this country into yet
another foreign policy debacle, and do nothing to alleviate the suffering of the
residents of Darfur. By allowing
state and local governments to label pension and retirement funds as state
assets, the federal government is giving the go-ahead for state and local
governments to play politics with the savings upon which millions of Americans
depend for security in their old age. The
safe harbor provision opens another dangerous loophole, allowing fund managers
to escape responsibility for any potential financial mismanagement, and it sets
a dangerous precedent. Would the
Congress offer the same safe harbor provision to fund managers who wish to
divest from firms offering fatty foods, growing tobacco, or doing business in
This bill would fail in its aim of influencing the government of the
Sudan, and would likely result in the exact opposite of its intended effects.
The regime in Khartoum would see no loss of oil revenues, and the civil
conflict will eventually flare up again. The
unintended consequences of this bill on American workers, investors, and
companies need to be considered as well. Forcing
American workers to divest from companies which may only be tangentially related
to supporting the Sudanese government could have serious economic repercussions
which need to be taken into account.