As Gas Prices Soar, the US Reaps What It Sows on Economic Sanctions

By imposing energy restrictions, crown prince Mohammed bin Salman gives Joe Biden a taste of his own medicine.

Zach Salcido
3 min readNov 13, 2021
Photo by Yassine Khalfalli on Unsplash

Almost a full year into the Biden Administration, there has been little departure from Trump-era economic sanctions around the world, including but not limited to North Korea, Cuba, and the Middle East more broadly. This advancement of the neoliberal project is of little surprise to the many Americans who remember the similar perils that afflicted former presidents in the ongoing era of gangster capitalism. No state before the United States has been able to wield the idea of free market enterprise as such a powerful weapon against its global enemies. And now, as domestic gas prices are quickly burgeoning, Joe Biden and the American neoliberal machine are experiencing the effect of economic sanctions that are fueled by personal and political vendettas.

As domestic petroleum production, like everything else, is being slowed in the midst of an ongoing pandemic, we are ramping up imports of the commodity, allowing it to once again be leveraged against us by foreign powers. What we are seeing play out at the gas pump is essentially de facto economic sanctions, likely the result of Biden’s refusal to meet with the crown prince following the nefarious Jamal Khashoggi assassination at their embassy in Istanbul.

Just this summer, we witnessed the civil unrest in Cuba, largely the fault of aggravations on the part of the US government and intelligence sector. This sinful sabotage of hemispheric politics from the Pentagon denied Cubans the proprietary COVID vaccines and other important medicine, and many other crucial goods to the island country. This is the culmination of six decades of embargo and economic sabotage on the part of the United States, a bitter political vendetta with brutal consequences to those that inhabit the small country.

We see the same story with respect to Yemen, where humanitarian work is often at odds with the US government over sanctions due to labeling of much of the country as a terrorist network. Life-saving medication and medical services are denied to a huge portion of the population, and food insecurity and hunger are reaching unprecedented levels. These are the insidious consequences of intentionally cruel economic sanctions with life-and-death implications. And now, we are seeing the strategy flipped on its head, although to a much lesser degree than the United States routinely dishes out.

After former President Donald Trump’s cozying up with the crown prince and his friends in the Middle East, a sudden refusal to even garner a meeting is dissatisfactory for a country with so much leverage over our domestic energy sector. For the planners of the American economy, the answer will likely be to ask OPEC to drill more oil, or to once again ramp up domestic oil production as we have been for the last decade, so much so that America is now the world leader in oil production. The destruction of our atmosphere and environment along with it, the oil industry stands to profit massively from this seven-year high at the gas pump.

While it has been the standard of American foreign policy throughout the neoliberal era to infect the economic practices of every region with late-stage capitalism, the lesson here should most certainly be that that practice is not one we should wish to employ if we as well do not want to get dirty slinging mud. And even though the consequences we are observing at the pump cannot hold a candle light to those that result from our own state department and intelligence community’s foreign policy, it should be a signal to the American planners that those who live in glass houses most certainly should not throw stones.



Zach Salcido

Oregon Law student. Interested in writing about politics, public policy, and law.