Evaluation Of The Effectiveness Of Trade Embargoes

1310 words - 6 pages

Evaluation of the Effectiveness of Trade EmbargoesAlthough I am a strong critic of the use and effectiveness of economic sanctions, such as trade embargoes, for the sake of this assignment, I will present both their theoretical advantages and their disadvantages based upon my research. Trade embargoes and blockades have traditionally been used to entice nations to alter their behavior or to punish them for certain behavior. The intentions behind these policies are generally noble, at least on the surface. However, these policies can have side effects. For example, FDR's blockade of raw materials against the Japanese in Manchuria in the 1930s arguably led to the bombing of Pearl Harbor, wh ...view middle of the document...

At the same time, trade sanctions may narrow the domestic support of authoritarian regimes and aggravate internal divisions.Economic sanctions can raise the cost of trade and finance to the targeted nations, but in most cases do not ruin their economies. Denied finance can compound the cost to the target country by inhibiting its ability to engage in trade without formal trade controls being imposed. Over time the target nation can develop alternative suppliers and markets, although at increased cost. The target country may receive economic or military aid from other countries opposing the embargoes. If "saving face" is important to the target nation, or if the embargo receives substantial publicity, it may provoke a backlash from the targeted regime and instead increase violent conflict. Backlash from the sender's allies may be exacerbated if attempts are made to enforce the sanctions extraterritorially.WeaknessesSkeptics question whether the costs paid by senders of trade embargoes are worth the benefits derived, or if the costs to innocent groups in the target countries are justified. Trade embargoes often do not succeed in changing the behavior of other countries, depending on various factors. In contrast to most foreign and defense actions financed by the government treasury, the embargo's costs are mostly felt by businesses whose trade is affected. They can amount to a discriminatory, sector-specific tax to finance foreign policy. Complaints of losses to domestic firms may undermine an embargo's initiative when it interrupts trade and financial contacts; businesses may fear loss of their reputation for reliability. Trade embargoes may alienate the sender's foreign allies.Popular regimes are more vulnerable than authoritarian regimes to domestic pressure for the state to change its behavior. Governments with high degrees of control over information can manipulate the public to blame foreign countries for unjustifiably inflicting damages against them. Embargoes can impose a high cost on noncombatants in the target country.In addition to trade embargoes, diplomatic sanctions such as breaking bilateral ties or denying a target country organizational membership, deny sender states and organizations some of their direct leverage against the target regime.Sender governments may fail to honor their commitments to enforce embargoes, gaining political advantage from cooperating in international efforts while reaping economic benefits by looking the other way as their companies evade the embargoes and illicitly take over the market share of other sanctioning countries.Trade embargoes are blunt tools with limited ability to focus economic pressure against particular groups in the target society. They can have substantial inadvertent adverse impact on the economy and non-targeted population groups; more authoritarian regimes may use their population's suffering to motivate senders to lift sanctions. Senders can try to design embargoes to impact m...

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