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reed11b
12-15-2008, 08:15 PM
I have noticed that punitive sanctions rarely (perhaps never) seem to work as intended, rarely hurt dictators or corrupt governments, and actually seem to entrench them by creating an "us against them" mentality within the sanctioned countries population and severely damage the middle-class of the sanctioned country. I am one who believes that a solid middle class is an indicator of a countryís over all health.
I wanted to know A) what was the councilís opinion on sanctions and B) due to this countries use of sanctions in place of conflicts or in conjunction with conflicts, was this a subject that warranted some extra research and a blog posting?
Reed

Fuchs
12-15-2008, 09:01 PM
I see two exceptions:

1st
Arms sanctions - you don't want to arm your friends' foes (except with monkey models and duds).

2nd
Short-term sanctions (U.N.-authorized) that add to a strategic campaign.
Imagine we had only bombed the powerplant turbine rooms in Yugoslavia with a single cruise missile salvo (and alternatively the switching stations that connected their nuclear powerplant to the national grid).
An electricity embargo by the neighbor countries would have helped very much to achieve a near-total blackout.

(This is a favorite scenario of mine; no less and no more able to influence what happened on the ground in Kosovo, but as coercive with a will-breaking degree of hopelessness as the actual campaign.)

reed11b
12-15-2008, 09:59 PM
I see two exceptions:

1st
Arms sanctions - you don't want to arm your friends' foes (except with monkey models and duds).

2nd
Short-term sanctions (U.N.-authorized) that add to a strategic campaign.
Imagine we had only bombed the powerplant turbine rooms in Yugoslavia with a single cruise missile salvo (and alternatively the switching stations that connected their nuclear powerplant to the national grid).
An electricity embargo by the neighbor countries would have helped very much to achieve a near-total blackout.

(This is a favorite scenario of mine; no less and no more able to influence what happened on the ground in Kosovo, but as coercive with a will-breaking degree of hopelessness as the actual campaign.)

I disagree
On (1st) not selling weapons to potential enemies or potential enemies of our friends only drives them closer to our enemies. If a country chose to purchase most there military equipment from us and then got antagonistic with us, what would happen to there military equipment? It would languish without spares or support or the constant upgrades that our equipment receives over it's lifetime. Same if they became antagonistic with allies. On top of this, there would be a very real pressure for the large weapons manufactures to censor themselves on arms deals due to public relations. The other option is that they get all there equipment from an unfriendly near competitor that will support them in anti-US actions. By being very selective in who we can and can't sell weapons too, we create a very political aspect to who does get them. Look at Pakistan, they have a lot of US equipment and always have. If we chose to sanction them, they will happily embrace China. Plus our support of them in the past has created tension with India. If our policy had always been more open, then perhaps that tension would not be as great.

On (2nd), when has a population EVER been bullied into surrendering? Would not that scenario create a situation of Belgrade vs. the World? Is that not exactly the opposite of what you would want to accomplish?
Reed

120mm
12-15-2008, 10:02 PM
I'm not a big fan of sanctions. We have plentiful proof that they don't work.

They tend to not punish the folks they are intended to punish, imo.

Entropy
12-15-2008, 11:23 PM
...do exactly what they are supposed to do: punish. They usually don't do much to change behavior, however, and as others note, they tend to affect others besides the intended target.

More often, the threat of sanctions can be very useful as part of an overall strategy.

selil
12-16-2008, 12:00 AM
Sanctions rarely have the expected results. There are however other ways to create sanctions that do work. For example grain subsidies for US agriculture can be a powerful motivator, or tarriffs for imported goods from another country. Internalize and reflect the desired result so we control the implementation and it becomes a win-win (domestic-international politics) for us. Of course that requires thinking and strategizing with industry.

Cue curmudgeon Ken.

reed11b
12-16-2008, 12:12 AM
...do exactly what they are supposed to do: punish. They usually don't do much to change behavior, however, and as others note, they tend to affect others besides the intended target.

More often, the threat of sanctions can be very useful as part of an overall strategy.
If they are failing to punish the leaders, and in fact strengthening there hold on the country, along with destroying the middle-class so that healthy reform is now more difficult, then that punishment becomes about as paradoxal as beating a child to teach him that violence is wrong.
Reed

reed11b
12-16-2008, 12:22 AM
Sanctions rarely have the expected results. There are however other ways to create sanctions that do work. For example grain subsidies for US agriculture can be a powerful motivator, or tarriffs for imported goods from another country. Internalize and reflect the desired result so we control the implementation and it becomes a win-win (domestic-international politics) for us. Of course that requires thinking and strategizing with industry.

Cue curmudgeon Ken.

While trade sanctions are a type of sanction, they are not what one thinks of when one talks of sanctions. By definition, trade sanctions are non-political, while ALL other sanctions are purly political and punitive. To avoid traveling to far down this road let's clearify the position...The lifting of all punitive
sanctions.
Reed

selil
12-16-2008, 12:24 AM
While trade sanctions are a type of sanction, they are not what one thinks of when one talks of sanctions. By definition, trade sanctions are non-political, while ALL other sanctions are purly political and punitive. To avoid traveling to far down this road let's clearify the position...The lifting of all punitive
sanctions.
Reed

So, what does punitive sanctions without trade look like?

reed11b
12-16-2008, 12:30 AM
So, what does punitive sanctions without trade look like?
Easy now, I know I am going to lose in an academic discourse with you, but; yes all sanctions involve trade, but the definition of trade sanctions is non-political sanctions to influence local economy, while economic and international sanctions are punitive sanctions designed to influence another countries behavior. Or am I completly wrong?
Reed

selil
12-16-2008, 12:47 AM
Easy now, I know I am going to lose in an academic discourse with you, but; yes all sanctions involve trade, but the definition of trade sanctions is non-political sanctions to influence local economy, while economic and international sanctions are punitive sanctions designed to influence another countries behavior. Or am I completly wrong?
Reed

Okey dokey.

So my proposition is that you can get the best of both worlds.

You can get successful punitive sanctions by effecting the foreign nations trade in a significant way.

You can effect domestic trade in a positive way by using trade sanctions against foreign countries.

At first nobody would believe it works, but once enacted they become very hard to reverse due to domestic pressures. By reducing or favoring trade with third parties you can drastically impact trade balances of entities that don't even trade with the United States.

Some criticisms I think of my ideas is that it is gerrymandering the economy and is not laise faire capitalism though I think the last nail is in that coffin.

I guess my guiding principle is that for punitive sanctions to work they need to be positive to domestic needs. My example is Cuban sanctions where everybody else trades with them their nearest neighbor not doing so is basically an inconvenience. There is no domestic component so even our political machinery is at odds with the policy. Think it out a bit better and sanctions could be fairly effective if others wanted to trade with us more than them.

reed11b
12-16-2008, 01:12 AM
Okey dokey.

So my proposition is that you can get the best of both worlds.

You can get successful punitive sanctions by effecting the foreign nations trade in a significant way.

You can effect domestic trade in a positive way by using trade sanctions against foreign countries.

At first nobody would believe it works, but once enacted they become very hard to reverse due to domestic pressures. By reducing or favoring trade with third parties you can drastically impact trade balances of entities that don't even trade with the United States.

Some criticisms I think of my ideas is that it is gerrymandering the economy and is not laise faire capitalism though I think the last nail is in that coffin.

I guess my guiding principle is that for punitive sanctions to work they need to be positive to domestic needs. My example is Cuban sanctions where everybody else trades with them their nearest neighbor not doing so is basically an inconvenience. There is no domestic component so even our political machinery is at odds with the policy. Think it out a bit better and sanctions could be fairly effective if others wanted to trade with us more than them.

Selil, I can not argue with your premise that trade sanctions can be used to influence other countries' behavior. That would be true diplomacy and not political grandstanding. Unfortunately my belief in the governmentís ability to make that transition is limited, and I would favor taking away the broken tool of punitive sanctions from the toolbox. Perhaps if we take out the broken tools, they will learn how to use the tools that do work.
Reed

AmericanPride
12-16-2008, 02:10 PM
I think the problem with sancations is the difficulty in drafting a policy that targets the specific source of the unwanted action within the target state. I would argue that the unilateral British blockade of German ports during WW1 constitutes a "sanction", and that it contributed to the capitulation of Germany and the overthrow of the imperial government as a result of widespread social unrest. IMO, the Iraq sanctions failed to topple Saddam because of the strength of that country's internal security apparatus and political-economic characteristics of the country. The sanctions did not target Saddam's sources of power because we (wrongly) assumed that it ultimately rested with the people. Arguably, the Iraq sanctions did succeed in degrading Iraq's military capabilities; so to that extent, perhaps it did work.

davidbfpo
12-16-2008, 07:09 PM
I have noticed that punitive sanctions rarely (perhaps never) seem to work as intended, rarely hurt dictators or corrupt governments, and actually seem to entrench them by creating an "us against them" mentality within the sanctioned countries population and severely damage the middle-class of the sanctioned country. I am one who believes that a solid middle class is an indicator of a country’s over all health.
I wanted to know A) what was the council’s opinion on sanctions and B) due to this countries use of sanctions in place of conflicts or in conjunction with conflicts, was this a subject that warranted some extra research and a blog posting?
Reed

Reed,

Politicians all too often see sanctions as an easy to use symbol of dislike, for appearance's sake - more for the international audience than domestic opinion. The EU uses travel restrictions on a governing elite, notably with Mugabe's Zimbabwe, to show displeasure and he still travels to Rome for a FAO meeting.

If I was a Kurd I'd have supported the sanction(s) of a no-fly zone, which did restrict Saddam Hussein's options and the other sanctions on Iraq had a mixed impact on his regime's capabilities. Note it also reduced the powerless middle class even further.

So in summary - sanctions can be useful as a symbol and in practice if commitment to their original intention is maintained.

Entropy
12-16-2008, 08:17 PM
I think part of the problem is that sanctions become the default policy when nothing else works and the use of force isn't an option. In that case they become a future card at the negotiating table for the resolution of a larger dispute. For example, we used the lifting of sanctions successfully as a carrot with Libya (which exposed the AQ Khan network) and we have to some effect with North Korea as well.

Still it can certainly be argued that even in those cases sanctions may have been a net counterproductive strategy. Hard to proved definitively one way or the other.

Van
12-16-2008, 11:39 PM
Sanctions, whether economic or other, need to be placed in the context of national strategy.

For example; if promotion of democracy is an objective of national strategy, how exactly do the trade sanctions against Cuba promote democracy? The short answer is they don't. The sanctions most hurt the people who would be the popular support for a democratic movement while denying the U.S. a legitimate avenue into Cuba to develop contacts and rapport with a diverse cross section of their society. Those santions have everything to do with electoral college votes from the state of Florida.

The case could be made that easing sanctions on trade and other interaction with the Soviet Union was essential to Ronald Reagan's victory over the Soviet Union. The logic being that as goods and information filtered in from the West, it became increasingly obvious that all that communism offered was hardship, where capitolism offered comfort and a degree of luxury to all members of society, not just party members.

I would argue for a methodical reassessment of all sanctions, rooted in the context of U.S. national strategy and security concerns. The implied challenge would be to develop a coherent security strategy and a set of rational and consistant security concerns (too much to ask from the government that funds studies on the dangers of tobacco use while subsidizing tobacco farmers).

davidbfpo
12-20-2008, 12:39 PM
Maybe of interest, although a bit lightweight, a BBC report on how sanctions affect Cuba: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00g1rmv/From_Our_Own_Correspondent_20_12_2008/

It is an item within a thirty minute broadcast, starts about 0640. Enjoy.

davidbfpo