Economic sanctions are a tool in the world of diplomacy that nations use to influence other countries. Further explained in The Impact of Economic Sanctions, “Sanctions can be applied for a variety of reasons, including punishing or weakening a target, to signal disapproval, to induce a change in policy, or to bring about regime change” (The impact of Economic Sanctions 2007 ,9). Sanctions are a more aggressive tool than diplomacy yet not as extreme as war, as Hovie Huseby and Sprinz assert “Sanctions might be imposed or sustained primarily to satisfy a domestic interest group or simply to demonstrate that the government cares and is doing something.” (Hovie, Huseby, & Sprinz 2005, 482). However sanctions as they are have been proven ineffective a theory that this paper will continue to explore. Background
It is important to assess the effectiveness of the tool that is being applied to over sixteen countries by America alone. This paper will analyze the effectiveness of economic sanctions by looking at historical and current data to determine the effect on a country's economy. Economic sanctions are a diplomatic tool that has been around since the rise of trade. It is simply one country or group refusing to trade with another. In the present day with the globalization of the world, the number of economic sanctions has increased sharply. It is very difficult to measure the actual success of economic sanctions, as multiple tools are used, making it difficult to identify which tool had an effect, as well as the constant paradigm shift that may take place in those nations. As seen in the case of the economic sanctions in South Africa explained in the impact of Economic Sanctions “Economic sanctions did not bring the South African economy to its knees. But the growing isolation of South Africa, of which economic sanctions were one element and the severance of sporting links another, and lack of support for its position in Europe and North America, helped convince the South African government and its domestic supporters that their attempt to maintain white supremacy was ultimately doomed to failure (The impact of Economic Sanctions 2007, 15). South Africa is commonly thought of as an economic sanctions success; however, there were a multitude of factors that led to change in South Africa. World unity was key to the success of sanctions against South Africa. While it is important to note that economic sanctions will damage the economy of the targeted country, the damage may not be severe enough to achieve the desired outcome.
The general effectiveness of economic sanctions has been questioned and studied time and time again. As Hovie and Huseby and Sprinz stated, “A somewhat more positive view of economic sanctions is offered in the comprehensive and influential study by Hafbauer, Schoot, and Elliot. They studied 116 cases and found a success rate of 34 percent. However Pape reanalyzed the same material and concluded that only 4 percent of the 116 cases actually resulted in “significant political concessions by the target country” (Hovie, Huseby, & Sprinz 2005, 481). Iran is currently being sanctioned for its pursuit of a nuclear program. These sanctions have resulted in a 22.2 percent increase in inflation and an unemployment rate of 35 percent; however Iran has not ended its nuclear program. The sanctions against Syria also demonstrate the empirical evidence that sanctions will damage the economy. As stated by Lyons “Sanctions against Syria’s oil industry are taking a substantial toll, draining 4 billion from the country’s economy so far and causing widespread fuel shortages, a top official of the embattled government of President Bashar al-Assad said” (Lyons 2012). Once again this appears to have done little to persuade the hard line taken by the Syrian Regime.
An important issue with the influence economic sanctions have is that sanctions have a disproportional effect on the demographics of a...
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