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Sanctions

A stack of currency chained together and padlocked. Used for any money inference where money is tight or protected.

Definition and Purpose

  • Sanctions can be administered to an entity by one state or many countries banding against it. In modern history, the U.S. as well as other powerful nations have used economic sanctions to influence foreign countries in specific ways. 

Source: Foreignpolicy.com

A Brief History

The term sanctions came to prominence after World War I (WWI) with the creation of the League of Nations although its principles have been used since ancient times. 

3 Notable Sanctions that have ended

Against Italy (1935) and Japan (1940)

  • Allied powers imposed these sanctions to try and force the countries to withdraw troops from specific locations because they considered it to be a violation of previous peace treaties. These disputes among other things pushed Italy and Japan to join Germany and begin World War II (WWII). 

Against South Africa (1948)

  • When South Africa began apartheid in 1948, a policy of segregation/discrimination based on race, they were forced into isolation by the majority of the world. Finally in 1994, the apartheid ended and sanctions were lifted.

Against Iraq (1990)

  • After Iraq attacked Kuwait in 1990, the United Nations (UN) Security Council began sanctions, keeping them after Iraq left Kuwait in hopes for total disarmament. The U.S. and U.K. governments always held that they would block the lifting or reforming of sanctions as long as Hussein remained in power. After more than 12 years, the U.S. and the UK made war on Iraq in 2003 ousting Hussein’s government.

Current Sanctions

Against Iran 

  • Following the 1979 seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, the capital of Iran, the country has been under sanctions. The 2012 Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act expanded sanctions related to Iran’s energy and financial sectors, weapons of mass destruction, support for terrorism, and human rights abuses.

Against North Korea

 

  • North Korea, formally known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, was founded after WWII. They are a communist and totalitarian state known to be especially isolated and secretive to the rest of the world. Kim Jong-Un, the current leader of the state, has significantly advanced its nuclear program that may threaten world stability, causing the UN to place the state under severe sanctions. Famine and malnutrition are common themes in North Korean history. In 1996, 3 million citizens reportedly died from starvation, known as the March of Suffering. 

 

Against Russia

  • In this decade, “the U.S. has imposed more than 60 rounds of sanctions on Russian individuals, companies, and government agencies spanning nine issue areas. When considered individually, most of these sanctions have clear objectives. Ukraine-related sanctions aim to deter further Russian aggression against Ukraine and encourage Russia to comply with the Minsk ceasefire agreement. The United States also sanctions Russian individuals and companies for not complying with North Korea sanctions, for meddling in U.S. elections, and for hacking U.S. entities. These sanctions impose costs to deter future aggressive actions and uphold international standards.”

Also against Syria, Sudan, Cuba, and Venezuela 

Varying Viewpoints

There are advocates for the use of sanctions as well as advocates against them with debates centered around their effectiveness. 

Sanctions condemn nations for wrongdoing

  • While the effectiveness of sanctions may be debated, supporters say the message of sanctions is most important. By condemning a wrongdoing nation, one shows one does not approve of their actions. 
It hurts innocent citizens more than the entities the sanctions were intended for 

  • Sanctions tend to hurt the most vulnerable rather than those in power. Sanctions can affect the citizen by limiting goods to buy, salaries, jobs and medicine. 
Hurts targeted nation more; develops national strength 

Hurts US economy

  • Many offending nations such as Iran have oil supplies that the U.S. relies on. According to the Peterson Institute for International Economics, “US sanctions in 1995 may have reduced US exports to 26 target countries by as much as $15 billion to $19 billion.”
Effective

  • South Africa ended its discriminatory appartheid by sanctions.
  • According to a study by Neuenkirc and Neumeier (2015) the U.S. and UN economic sanctions reduce the target countries GDP growth by more than 2 percent a year.
Ineffective

  • Iraq had sanctions for decades yet still it was war that resolved the issue of Hussein’s leadership. 
  • The majority of sanctions have dragged on and been ineffective for its primary goal. 

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