Sanctions Don't Work. U.S. Foreign Policy Should Forget Them.
Examining the 6 Cases of U.S. Embargo
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The new year always brings a brief moment of reflection, helping us understand our successes and learn from our failures. But one group that refuses to partake in this annual pastime is the U.S. Foreign Policy Establishment (a.k.a. “The Blob”), which spent another year “defining insanity” (same thing while expecting different results) by relying on sanctions as its main geopolitical tool.
In theory, economic sanctions upon a country are supposed to motivate a behavior change by crippling the target nation’s economy. Once economic hardship sets in, either the ruling forces will yield and cease the provoking activity, or the nation’s citizens (the real victims of economic blockade) will overthrow their leaders and institute a government that abides by the U.S.’s wishes.
But like I said, this is only a theory, one that has been proven not to work many times over.
While many countries and regions face “targeted sanctions” or “special policies” (think of these as “mini sanctions”), it is the blanket, nationwide embargo that is the U.S.’s biggest cudgel. In 2022, the Treasury Department laid new sanctions on Russia as punishment for invading Ukraine while choosing to continue the total embargoes already imposed on five other nations.
By examining these six nations we can see how America’s weapon of choice has failed to achieve stated goals, all while inflicting dire suffering on those who have no say in the policies The Blob claims to oppose.
The Big 6
Implemented after the Korean War, the sanctions on North Korea began as an attempt to halt Communist momentum in Asia. But like other nations on this list, the justification has shifted to a response to North Korea’s increasingly belligerent nuclear activity and human rights abuses.
And while the hermit kingdom is shunned by many other nations, the case of North Korea provides a clear example of the failure of sanctions. The country has a functioning nuclear program, and its political dynasty remains intact after seventy years of embargo. If sanctions worked, North Korea would look very different.
To the bane of National Review readers everywhere, Cuba has survived under the most complete economic lockdown in human history. Since 1960 the U.S. Government has prohibited trade to and from the small island nation. Though there is an exemption for food and medicine, it exists only on paper. Studies have found the exemption has no effect, leaving the Cuban people wanting basic sustenance and medical needs.
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