Powell wants to scrap most US sanctions
January 23, 2001 8:49 AM   Subscribe

Powell wants to scrap most US sanctions (IHT via Robot Wisdom) Is this a good idea? We've talked before on here about the damage sanctions can do. But is it a good idea to dismantle them in such a wholesale way? The primary motivation seems to be economic.
posted by Sean Meade (17 comments total)
Why not? Our economy isn't doing so well right now, a boom would more than help. A lot of the sanctions have little affect on those they are imposed on.
posted by tiaka at 9:03 AM on January 23, 2001

Wholesale and massive lifting of sanctions could not only be beneficial to our economy (and the economies of our sanctioned nations) but could open the door to future diplomatic discussions. I'm failing to see a downside.
posted by Dreama at 9:16 AM on January 23, 2001

Dreama, the downside is that some of the sanctioned countries might use the money to oppress their own people, or to be more accurate, oppress them even more.

Why do I feel that many of the new administrations decisions are going to based on economic issues, rather than social or humanitarian.
posted by iain at 9:37 AM on January 23, 2001

the social and humanitarian issues are my concern, iain, the downside i'm worried about (though i know sanctions don't always work or even usually work).
posted by Sean Meade at 9:47 AM on January 23, 2001

the social and humanitarian issues are my concern, iain, the downside i'm worried about (though i know sanctions don't always work or even usually work) are moon flights. I'm leaving for Europa tomorrow, and there's a sanction on it for selling bad moon cheese.

Was that a cut-off sentence? "The current ecological state of the planet is really bad, but... on the other hand, I look fabulous in a bikini" sorta thing?

posted by tiaka at 9:52 AM on January 23, 2001

On the up side, if corrupt governments keep the excess money resulting from lifted sanctions for themselves, that only hastens the day when their public will revolt.
posted by kindall at 11:02 AM on January 23, 2001

nope, it wasn't a cutoff sentence, more like 'the social and humanitarian issues are my concern, iain, [the social and the humanitarian issues are] the downside i'm worried about.' it was kind of a continuation of the subject, adding another predicate.
posted by Sean Meade at 11:14 AM on January 23, 2001

Does that include the Cuban embargo? Hmm.
posted by holgate at 11:41 AM on January 23, 2001

tiaka, our economy is doing fine -- it's growing at a faster rate than during most of the 1980s and all of the 1970s. It's just growing slower than it did the last 8 years.

Don't let the tax-cut sales job fool you: we are not in a recession. 2% growth is just a surprise after years of 4-5%. And it's a correction we need.

The obvious direction to go is "smart sanctions", which the US has experimented with in the case of Serbia. Rather than wholesale sanctions against an entire people, such as the Iraq strategy, they're targeted directly at the assets and economic interests of the regime we intend to punish.
posted by dhartung at 12:52 PM on January 23, 2001

Tiaka: I'm curious about what makes you think the economy isn't doing very well... Can you enlighten me?

The only thing that I've noticed that isn't doing very well is the stock market (which isn't doing all that badly), and that's resulting purely from people's perceptions and expectations.
posted by Neb at 1:00 PM on January 23, 2001

Doh. What dhartung said.
posted by Neb at 1:01 PM on January 23, 2001


While I generally agree with you that economic sanctions don't seem to derive any substantial benefit other than conscience-soothing, it seems to me that there should be some level of stare decisis in foreign policy matters like this one.

If we go about lifting sanctions simply because the new administration doesn't find them an effective tool, or becuase we prefer the economic benefit to ourselves, that sends a message to our enemies: just ride it out for four years, and we'll change our minds.

The only way this would not be the case is if we either: 1) substitute non-economic sanctions that are equally punitive and/or effective, or 2) we relax sanctions in proportion to the achievement of the original goal.
posted by mikewas at 1:37 PM on January 23, 2001

It depends on your perspective whether or not lifting sanctions is good or not. Since this “economic boom” benefited the very rich the most, and had almost no effect on the middle and lower classes, then it would stand that putting further markets under the thumb of the IMF and WTO would add to their heaping fortunes.
posted by capt.crackpipe at 4:49 PM on January 23, 2001

And how successful have these policies been in achieving their goals so far? What are their goals again?
posted by lagado at 4:58 PM on January 23, 2001

Colin Powell has been doing a lot of interesting stuff at the State Dept., though. For instance, he's moving to rid all of the bureaucratic middle management. He also instituted a rule where all documents need to have the author and a contact on the front page, so that Mr. Powell can contact the author personally (these nameless authors rarely even saw the old Sec. of States, let alone talked policy with them). His processes basically seem like an attempt to bring the State Dept. into "new economy" management styles, much as he did in ridding the military of many useless traditions.

If Colin would just run for President...

posted by Kevs at 8:25 PM on January 23, 2001

mikewas: I understand your contention, but it would seem to me that we could say the same thing about all foreign policy. Then every administration would be hamstrung when it came to making changes, fearful of the message that it might send to our enemies. Where do you draw the line on stare decisis and say "Okay, we have a new idea and we're going to implement it." with conviction?
posted by Dreama at 9:15 PM on January 23, 2001

First, list the countries against whom we have asked that sanctions be applied. Nexzt, ask how long they have been in place. Then ask how many countries have gone along with our sanctions or have broken them and gone their own way. Next ask how the sanctions have seemed thus far to have worked. Then you can ask if they are worth keeping.
The real issue raised, however, is whether or not there ought to be any sanctions against any nation at all, ever. And if not,. what to do instead.
So long as other nations care not a whit about our sanctions, then business folks in our country will know they are missing out on making money and that others jump at the chance to get it and be non-competitive with us.
posted by Postroad at 4:02 AM on January 24, 2001

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