Economic Sanctions Ought not be used to Achieve Foreign Policy Objectives
Should economic sanctions be used?
Damages everyone's economies
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.
Economic Sanctions Do NOT Work for the reason of cost
The U.S economy is going through enough problems as it is. Frivolous expenditure is hardly a solution to these.
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.
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?
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.