The Problem With Economic Sanctions
By David Henderson
When governments impose sanctions on people in another country, the main goal of the officials who favor the policy is to harm the person or people in charge of that country’s government so that they will change their policies. That’s the goal. What they do to achieve it is intentionally harm many innocent people in those countries, in this case by trying to reduce their supply of gasoline. The sanctions often work in a limited sense: they impose some harm on innocent people in the target country. But that’s not the goal. Nor is the goal to cut off the “bad guy” from gasoline. You can be sure that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, approximately the 18th most-powerful politician in Iran, and Ali Khamenei, the most powerful politician in Iran, will not do without gasoline. No. Instead, imposing sanctions is hurting innocent people so that they, like our neighbor’s cat, will lash out at whoever’s face is right in front of them. The idea is to induce people to see their own government as the enemy and to try to put pressure on it.
This is from my latest antiwar.com article, “The Case Against Iran Sanctions.” I go on to ask the reader to imagine how we would react if another country’s government imposed sanctions on us.