Embargoes and Sanctions - On sanctions

Historians, analysts, and politicians differ passionately about the efficacy and morality of America's record in using sanctions, as one can readily see from the following quotations:

"A nation that is boycotted is a nation that is in sight of surrender. Apply this economic, peaceful, silent, deadly remedy and there will be no need for force. It is a terrible remedy. It does not cost a life outside the nation boycotted, but it brings a pressure upon the nation which, in my judgment, no modern nation could resist."

—Woodrow Wilson, quoted in Hufbauer, Schott, and Elliott, vol. 1, p. 9.—

"We use sanctions so often—nearly 100 times this century—that they have become America's grand diplomatic experiment. This experiment, repeated many times, shows [that sanctions do not work and are America's folly]…. A nation boycotted is not in sight of surrender: recall North Korea, Cuba, and Iran…. In achieving 'high' foreign policy goals, sanctions are not a substitute for force, but they can be a prelude to force—consider Iraq, Haiti, Bosnia…. Contrary to [Woodrow] Wilson's belief, economy sanctions have turned out to be an offer that nearly every target can refuse—not only powerful China, but also powerless Panama."

—From Gary C. Hufbauer, "Economic Sanctions: America's Folly," in Singleton and Griswold, pp. 91–92.—

"Sanctions can offer a nonmilitary alternative to the terrible options of war or indifference when confronted with aggression or injustice."

—National Conference of Catholic Bishops, quoted in Haass, p. 2.—

"[Sanctions] do not work…. it is important for us to rec ognize as a nation the enormous value of having American businesses engaged around the world. To recognize that engagement does more to encourage democracy and freedom, to open up societies, to create opportunities for millions of people who up until now have not been able to participate, than just about anything else we can do."

—Richard B. Cheney, "Defending Liberty in a Global Economy," quoted in Singleton and Griswold, p.27.—

"It is indisputable that the myriad pressures generated by the many forms of sanctions imposed on South Africa forced the previously immovable and inflexible system of apartheid to recognize the necessity of change."

—Jennifer Davis, "Sanctions and Apartheid: The Economic Challenge to Discrimination," in Cortright and Lopez, p.181.—

"The economic sanctions continued to strangle the people of Iraq, and the country has been pushed to the verge of collapse, placing the life of its civilian population in great peril."

—Bashsir Al-Samarrai, "Economic Sanctions Against Iraq: Do They Contribute to a Just Settlement?" in Cortright and Lopez, p. 135.—

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