Economic Sanctions Ought not be used to Achieve Foreign Policy Objectives
Should economic sanctions be used?
Please cast your vote after you've read the arguments.
You can also add to the debate by leaving a comment at the end of the page.
Damages everyone's economies
For countries that believe in free trade sanctions are not a good option. While it is targeted at one country it damages those who are imposing the sanctions as well. A good example of this is Iran. At the moment there are scanctions on Iran by the EU and US meaning that despite being a major producer of oil and gas Iran does not export much of it. For the EU in particular this has serious consequences. There are very few options for importing gas; Algeria and Lybia provide a little, some is domestic (from Britain, the Netherlands and Norway) and the rest comes from Russia or Central Asia through Russia. The only alternative is liquified natural gas from Qatar which is both very expensive as it needs to be cooled to be liquified and transported before being warmed up again for use at the other end, it can also be highly explosive and therefore dangerous.
This leaves dependence on Russia or Iran. Iran could help build and fill a pipeline to Southern Europe (Nabucco) that is already being constructed but because of sanctions it cannot take part despite being the obvious partner. This forces Europe to rely on Russia to meet our rising demand for gas supplies. Russia has already demonstrated that allowing them to have a monopoly on our gas supplies is dangerous by regularly cutting off supply to Eastern European and former soviet states. Russia has also succeded in cutting off the possibility of filling nabucco with gas from central asia by winning contracts to sell on the gas from Central Asian states.
The only way out of this would be to drop sanctions on Iran so that we can get our gas from there and prevent our dependence on Russia. This would benefit both of our economies rather than harming both as the sanctions are doing. Prices would come down due to competition so benefiting us while some revinues would go to Iran.
Okay, let's talk about Iran. I noticed in your evidence how you talked about how the sanctions were damaging to the economy and all the trouble they're going through to find natural gas somewhere else, but you never talked about the initial reason for the sanctions, which was the enrichment of Uranium. Iran is too unstable of a country set in too unstable of an environment to be trusted with Uranium. Therefore we sanction because we can't continue to fund Iran's nuclear program with our trade. The costs of the sanctions are a decrease in natural gas but if you look at what would happen if we didn't have sanctions, there is the threat of nuclear war.
Economic Sanctions Do NOT Work for the reason of cost
Recent research suggests that US implemented economic sanctions are costing the United States approximately $15 billion to $19 billion each year in potential exports, and costing approximately 200,000 jobs as well.
The U.S economy is going through enough problems as it is. Frivolous expenditure is hardly a solution to these.
economic sanctions are effective in certain situations. they do help deter future misbehavior and also help to get the country "back in line". there are a few documents that say that ever possible option must be exhausted before a "just" war is able to be entered into. if people are excluding an option, they could get into a war that would end up costing more money and more lives than a sanction would. sanctions come before wars. that, in and of itself, is worth the cost.
Economic Sanctions don’t have any affect in small countries if they opt themselves out of the market; they strengthen the country by forcing them to be independent.
Therefore the country with sanctions imposed on it, benefits and has little incentive/reason to not do what The U.S is trying to starve it/her from doing.
So what are the alternatives to scantions? more diplomacy and military action. These have the problem of being two extremes meaning that there needs to be something in the middle.
Diplomacy is the most obvious alternative. It would be lovely if all foreign policy objectives could be met simply by diplomacy but with contradictoryinterests this is never going to happen in all cases. Many countries, particularly dictatorships but quite often also democracies such as the US, feel they can just ignore diplomacy if it is not backed up by anything more than a verbal lashing. Diplomacy needs something backing it up. At the moment this is the threat of some form of sanction (be it direct economic sanctions or more indirect be reducing the opportunities for that countries firms to operate in your market) or military action of some kind. Using military action as a threat can be extreme. How do you move between diplomacy and on to military action without something in the middle to show how serious your country is? If a country does not believe your threats, and you dont really want to attack him you have to be the one to back down. Providing economic sanctions creates a way of hurting him without having to go to the worse stage.
Alternatives: Military action?
Military action is the obvious 'hard' alternative to sanctions. However it is not always possible. This could be because of domestic politics or because there are other significant actors in the international system who would react unfavourably to you engaging in military action, or else the consequences might be too severe.
There are quite a few problems with military action apart from that it cant always be used due to politics. The most obvious is that it is an immense step up from diplomacy. The country you are going to attack needs to have done something serious to be able to justify an attack. Even if it is justifiable there are problems. Military action relies upon your country being powerful and being able to engage in military action - whereas anyone can implement some form of sanctions - and it is very costly. This is not only of course in terms of monetary cost to your country but also in lives lost and destroyed. There can also me many unintended consequences. You can intend the action to be a small police action but there is no guarantee that your opponent will see it that way so he may well strike back escallating towards full scale war. At the other extreem your actions my push a country towards falling appart and becoming a failed state.
Yes it provides a very powerful tool for changing a state's behaviour but most people would believe that it is not worth keeping the possibility of military action while getting rid of sanctions. Get rid of both and you essentially have no stick at all. States do not always respond to carrots - you need to provide a big enough carrot that they can forgo a national interest afterall. In the case of two interests being diametrically opposed then this cost could be immense.
In the world today military action is not an option except in extremis, we should however be moving towards sanctions being similarly a weapon of last resort rather than as it is used now as the first resort. At the moment if we cant resolve something we sanction it, either individual nations do so or else if they can get others to agree they take sanctions through the UN. Instead sanctions should become much rarer, they should simply be a threat as military action should be.
What do you think?