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Posts Tagged ‘who do sanctions hurt’

Who do sanctions really hurt?

In foreign policy, war and peace on October 28, 2009 at 12:08 am

We often hear the term sanctions being thrown around by media. Economic sanctions, military sanctions, U.N. sanctions — they’re all perceived as a more humanitarian tool for achieving political ends; with war being the last result.

But who do sanctions really hurt? The rich and powerful government officials residing in their palaces? Or do the actually harm the everyday people in these countries struggling to survive?

Are sanctions a more humanitarian tool than war? I don’t know. But I do know that sanctions, like war, are force.

Imagine what would happen to America if the rest of the world imposed sanctions on us. The result would be great hardship for the American people. And we are a wealthy nation.

Consider this recent statement by AEI resident scholar Fred Kagan and supporter of sanctions on Iran:

“Look, we need to be honest about this, Iranians are going to die if we impose additional sanctions.”

Rebecca Griffin, a writer for Peace Action West’s Groundswell Blog, makes the argument that sanctions don’t work and actually empower the current regime. In her opinion, sanctions create a “sanctions economy” where smuggling is the money maker.

Not only can private individuals take advantage of a sanctions atmosphere, but so too can governments. Griffin argues that sanctions actually serve those in power by increasing their control of an economy and knocking out foreign competition. She also says that sanctions in Iran will inhibit the pro-democracy movement:

“Some people are inclined to take the more punitive route based on their disgust at the Iranian government’s treatment of protesters. While the outrage is warranted, sanctions are a misguided and dangerous response. If we want to support the pro-democracy movement in Iran, we must follow its lead.”

For more of Griffin’s news and views on sanctions, click here.