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An analysis of why economic sanctions are good Essay

“A person may cause evil to others not only by his actions but by his inaction, and in either case he is justly accountable to them for the injury.” John Mills

OR Senator John Kerry once said “We must retool our nation to prepare for the challenge we already face to maintain our position in the global economy. And this much is certain: America will not have national security without economic security.”

Therefore, I negate the resolution that:

Resolved: Economic sanctions ought not to be used to achieve foreign policy objectives

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Economic Sanctions- Economic penalties, such as stoppage of trade and financial transactions, imposed upon a country to force compliance with another country’s or UN’s or WTO’s demands. (businessdictionary.com)

Ought- used to express obligation.

Foreign Policy- the policy of a sovereign state in its interaction with other sovereign states.

Objectives- : an aim, goal, or end of action.

(In case of argumentation relating to resolve not confined to U.S.A)

Sovereign- one that exercises supreme authority within a limited sphere.

All unspecified definitions are from Merriam Webster

Core Value: Societal Welfare- What is best for most of society

Value Criterion- The neg shall prevail if I can prove that economic sanctions are a worthwhile method to achieve foreign policy objectives. But the aff shall prevail if, and only if he can prove otherwise……

C1: Smart economic sanctions are needed to compel foreign leaders.

The resolution calls for a general ban on economic sanctions in dealing with foreign policy objectives. One of the foremost arguments against sanctions is the harm they may potentially bring. But these potential harms are mostly caused the imposition of broad, wide-ranging sanctions. But not all sanctions are harmful- there are good sanctions. The sanctions in the 21st century are targeted and narrow, not general. One of the common criticisms of economic sanctions is that they have injured civilian populations in the past. The problem with this line of reasoning is that it assumes that there is only one type of sanction to use, and that this type of sanctioning must necessarily hurt civilians. Most countries now understand that wide, indiscriminate sanction use may be counterproductive, so they take a smarter, tailored approach to economic sanctions that make sanctions more likely to achieve their policy objectives. Many countries now tailor their sanctions to specific goods. For example, many countries place specific sanctions on narcotics related items or on materials that could be used to make weapons.

These tailored sanctions still allow civilians to meet their basic needs, but also make it so that rogue states are unable to use their material resources to cause further harm. Additionally, economic sanctions are now being used to freeze assets and limit the travel of high ranking state officials, which puts pressure only on them to change their country’s policies. These “smart sanctions” create an opportunity for change without the harms that occurred from past sanctions. Another line of argument for the Neg is the “toolbox” argument: that the Affirmative would remove critical tools, including targeted sanctions, from the government’s disposal. This would lead to a second dilemma, this time for the Affirmative: without the carrot and stick of economic sanctions, the government is left with a feather of non-economic sanctions and the bloody spike of war.

C2: Economic sanctions are necessary foreign policy tools

So what are the alternatives to sanctions? More diplomacy and military action. These have the problem of being two extremes meaning that there needs to be something in the middle.

Diplomacy is the most obvious alternative. It would be lovely if all foreign policy objectives could be met simply by diplomacy but with contradictory interests, this is never going to happen in all cases. Many countries, particularly dictatorships but quite often also democracies such as the US, feel they can just ignore diplomacy if it is not backed up by anything more than a verbal lashing. Diplomacy needs something backing it up. At the moment this is the threat of some form of sanction (be it direct economic sanctions or more indirect be reducing the opportunities for that countries firms to operate in your market) or military action of some kind.

Using military action as a threat can be extreme. How do you move between diplomacy and on to military action without something in the middle to show how serious your country is? If a country does not believe your threats, and you don’t really want to attack him you have to be the one to back down. Providing economic sanctions creates a way of hurting him without having to go to the worse stage… which is military action. Military action is the obvious ‘hard’ alternative to sanctions. However it is not always possible. This could be because of domestic politics or because there is other significant actors in the international system who would react unfavorably to you engaging in military action, or else the consequences might be too severe.

There are quite a few problems with military action apart from that it cant always be used due to politics. The most obvious is that it is an immense step up from diplomacy. The country you are going to attack needs to have done something serious to be able to justify an attack. Even if it is justifiable there are problems.

Military action relies upon your country being powerful and being able to engage in military action – whereas anyone can implement some form of sanctions – and it is very costly. This is not only of course in terms of monetary cost to your country but also in lives lost and destroyed. There can also me many unintended consequences. You can intend the action to be a small police action but there is no guarantee that your opponent will see it that way so he may well strike back escalating towards full scale war. At the other extreme your actions my push a country towards falling apart and becoming a failed state.

Yes it provides a very powerful tool for changing a state’s behavior- but most people would believe that it is not worth keeping the possibility of military action while getting rid of sanctions. Get rid of both and you essentially have no stick at all. States do not always respond to carrots – you need to provide a big enough carrot that they can forgo a national interest after all. In the case of two interests being diametrically opposed then this cost could be immense.

C3: Violation of Human Rights

Natural rights of citizens are selfishly violated by corrupt leaders of governments. This impacts not only the natural rights of citizens from other countries; it also affects the natural rights of their own citizens.

a. Citizens of countries oppressed by economic sanctions suffer when intended relief efforts are suppressed by their own government intercepting supplies. The citizens are never the target, but rather the behaviors of corrupt leaders.

Natural rights of citizens are denied when a corrupt leader interrupts the harmonious relations and it becomes necessary to impose sanctions. Further, I extend my VPC in that when the naturals rights of other nations are infringed upon by these corrupt leaders, political justification demands punishment in the least destructive manner after diplomacy has failed.

b. Citizens are justified to demand their natural rights which are being denied to them by the very government which is supposed to protect them. When corrupt leaders give in to decency and cooperate, the sanctions go away. Sanctions are nothing more than a legitimate form of punishment to achieve a defined and acceptable code of behavior.

Natural rights of citizens are denied when a corrupt leader interrupts the harmonious relations and it becomes necessary to impose sanctions. Further, I extend my VPC in that when the naturals rights of other nations are infringed upon by these corrupt leaders, political justification demands punishment in the least destructive manner after diplomacy has failed.

Possible Rebuttal:

Although careful studies of economic sanctions have cast doubt on their effectiveness, 1 anecdote can be powerful rhetorical tools. A single important case that demonstrates sanctions’ potential allows advocates to argue that their cause is more akin to the success than to the failures. Frequently, advocates point to the case of sanctions applied in the mid-1980s against the apartheid regime in South Africa as just such a case.

On the face of it, South African sanctions appear to have been successful. In response to the outrages of apartheid, many countries adopted trade and financial sanctions and a significant amount of foreign investment was withdrawn from South

Africa. After the adoption of sanctions, South Africa experienced economic difficulty and numerous domestic actors commented on how the economic situation was untenable and required political change. By 1994, Nelson Mandela had been elected President of South

Africa. He and other black leaders attributed to economic sanctions a significant role in bringing about the democratic transition.

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