Monday, October 5, 2009

Will Sanctions Deter Iran?

As news has emerged recently about Iran's nuclear weapons program, discussion of trade sanctions has heated up. But

as the focus on sanctions intensifies, a review of the United States’ experiences in enforcing its own longstanding restrictions on trade with Iran suggests it would be difficult to truly quarantine the Iranian economy.

Black market networks have sprouted up all over the globe to circumvent the sanctions.

This makes perfect sense. Any ban on profitable economic activity, whether it is drug sales, prostitution, or international trade, creates the incentive to evade the ban. Evidence from history suggests that trade sanctions, like other prohibitions, are difficult to enforce and usually have minimal impact.

The unfortunate reality is that the U.S. has only two choices on Iran: accept that they will soon possess nuclear weapons, or use military force to destroy their capabilities. Trade sanctions are just a way of pretending to "do something" without having any impact.

13 comments:

Fady said...

I generally agree with your assessment, with one exception. Transporting gasoline overland (or by small sea vessels) is EXPENSIVE. Such an embargo might not stop the flow of fuel, but it will raise its cost enough to have an impact.

That said, I just cannot see Russia (or China for that matter) agreeing to any sactions with teeth. Russia wants nothing more that instability in the middle to goose oil prices critical to its economy.

happyjuggler0 said...

I don't think that trade sanctions have ever worked against dictators, they only work against democracies, and even then they don't always work.

Therefore trade sanctions against nondemocracies only serve to hurt innocent people in those countries. Is that really our goal?

Jess Austin said...

Haha, I was mistaken; it seems Prof. Miron does read his comments. Bravo!

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