Publishing with the Enemy


A recent New York Times article addresses a law against editing material from countries under trade embargoes – effectively banning scholarly publications originating in those areas.

Some quotes: "They can print anything as is. But they can't correct typos?" (from an EFF lawyer); "This means that the publication of the PEN Anthology of Contemporary Persian Literature ... would constitute aiding and abetting the enemy." (from a frustrated translation committee chair); "I also don't understand why it's not in our interest to get information into Iran." (from Representative Howard Berman [Cal-D]). IEEE Spectrum had a piece on the sanctions last October.


"....effectively banning scholarly publications originating in those areas."

Nonsense. The article says nothing of the kind. Editing is a service, provided by editors. A trade embargo is a ban on goods and services to the targeted country. Any questions?

Don't hurt yourself shaking it.

Economically speaking this is not correct.

We were talking about "effectively banning" scholarly publications, not rapeseed--which is to say that I was not "economically speaking." I should have been clearer. The claim, as I understood it, was that the Treasury Department rule against providing editorial sevice to nationals of countries under trade embargo amounts to censorship ("banning" of intellectual products). My point was, and is, that this is hooey.

The library left yawns and scratches at prisoners of conscience in Cuba while raising shrill alarm about Treasury Department restrictions on American editors. I can only shake my head...

Glad someone else noticed that one. Thanks.

>>The expression "effectively ban" is nonsense in itself. Either a government bans something, or it does not.

Economically speaking this is not correct. You are painting with a very wide brush.

There are varying degrees of punitive trade policy. Embargoes are just one tool. Tariffs, quotas, licenses, subsidies, standards, all “effectively ban� something to a degree. But not all completely.

Furthermore embargoes are not strictly punitive.

A recent example is the gmo issue with the EU. While technically an embargo or “ban� of genetically modified seed has been placed on US exports, some European countries still legally import gmo seed under strict provisions for testing. (You may recall stories of the Greenpeace crowd vandalizing these secret government testing fields)

The EU Food Agency's recent decision regarding genetically modified rapeseed is another example of how such statements as “ Either a government bans something, or it does not�, are factually incorrect and potential “crank� fodder.

Why am I so completely unsurprised by the moderators rating Conservator's comment as flamebait? Fang-Fang's streak of ad hominen attacks against opposing views remains unbroken, and remains a hit with moderators.

How on earth do you know what I have taken into consideration?

Do I understand you correctly that the principal problem for the free flow of ideas during the Cold War was embargoes and paranoia? Ever heard of the Berlin Wall?

To begin with, Why is it that support for something you disagree with must necessarily be "blind" support? Is denegrating people just part of discussing things for you? Don't you ever stop to consider that there might be *reasons* for other viewpoints? Give it a try some time.

The application of the law is precisely the question here. Trade embargoes cover goods and services. Editing is a service. It's a syllogism. The question is not why one might "support" a logical aspect of a clear rule, but rather why one would *exempt* a particular type of service from the rule. Until such an exemption is made, the rule applies to all instances. Offer your reasons to Treasury...

U.S. researchers can translate all they want for their own use. If translation and/or editing is done in order to enable publication, then this is a service to nationals of that nation, and is covered by the law. You may not like it, but it makes perfect sense.

The expression "effectively ban" is nonsense in itself. Either a government bans something, or it does not. There is a question of deliberateness involved. Yes, a trade embargo makes things more difficult in many ways. Oil companies could just as easily argue that their business is being "effectively banned." Life is rough all over.

Yeah. How come you didn't take into consideration that a trade embargo also forbids goods and services FROM the target country? It is just as illegal for you to sell American cars to Cuba as it is for you to buy Cuban cigars from Cuba.

Furthermore, if I write a story and I sell it, that makes the story a good. You've already identified editing as a service, so I won't bother going over that point again.

And if you'd like to get an idea of how such embargoes can effect the free flow of ideas, I recommend Kip Thorne's Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein's Outrageous Legacy. There's a very nice section in that about how much Cold War Paranoia chafed the scientific communities on both sides of the curtain.

Sure, here's a question: Why the blind support of an idiotic (application of a) law? For one thing, translating or editing material from Iran or Cuba so it can reach researches in the U.S. isn't servicing the "outlaw" nation--it's helping our own researchers.

So, yes, it is effectively banning (or substantially reducing access to) scholarly publications (scholarly research) originating in those areas, by making it illegal to edit or translate them. It doesn't matter if the law doesn't use those words. That's the direct effect.

I would like to know how a trade embargo is not in the realm of economics - ie: economically speaking.Trade has nothing to do with economics? What pray tell *DOES* it have to do with?-- Ender, Duke_of_URLˆ

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