The Futility And Cruelty Of Sanctions,

Daniel Larison, senior editor at TAC,

Richard Hanania has written a new report for the Cato Institute on the ineffectiveness and immorality of sanctions:

“Sanctions have massive humanitarian costs and are not only ineffective but likely counterproductive. On these points, there is overwhelming agreement in the academic literature. Such policies can reduce the economic performance of the targeted state, degrade public health, and cause tens of thousands of deaths per year under the most crushing sanctions regimes. Moreover, they almost always fail to achieve their goals, particularly when the aim is regime change or significant behavioral changes pertaining to what states consider their fundamental interests. Sanctions can even backfire, making mass killing and repression more likely, while decreasing the probability of democratization.”

The futility and cruelty of sanctions will be familiar to regular readers here. We see the same story repeated over and over in Iran, Venezuela, Syria, and North Korea today just as we saw it in Myanmar and Iraq before them: authoritarian regimes grow stronger while the civilian population suffers, and regime behavior remains unchanged or grows worse.

Tens of thousands of innocents die from preventable causes as a result, and nothing comes from the sanctions except widespread misery and hardship. Given this dismal and ugly track record of this economic warfare, why is it still used so frequently when all of the evidence shows that it fails and imposes horrific costs on the targeted populations? Hanania’s answer is straightforward: sanctions are used because they represent a less risky form of intervention in another country’s affairs and therefore they are politically convenient for politicians and policymakers that want to be able to “do something” to another country at a low cost to them. Läs artikel