Essay Sample on U.S. Economic Sanctions: The Costs and Benefits

Posted on February 11, 2008

What are the Costs and Benefits of U.S. Economic Sanctions?
Before moving on it’s important to start by defining the meaning of economic sanctions. The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines sanctions as penalties that are applied by one or a group of countries on another for various reasons. Sanctions come in the form of tariffs, import or export quotas, trade barriers and import duties.

Economic sanctions rarely work. The US and some other UN countries Trade and investment sanctions against Burma, Iran, cuba, and North Korea have failed to change the behavior of any of those oppressive regimes; sanctions have only made the situation of the very people being helped worse.We should remember that for a country to impose sanctions on another there is always a good reason behind it – usually motivated by political, trade or security differences and concerns. The imposing country/ countries rarely listen or are ready to share the same viewpoint and perspectives as the accused. These hardened stances often lead to a protracted feud that can last years and decades. A good example of this is the US relationship with Cuba. The US has lost many opportunities of winning this Caribbean Island nation over to itself due to this long standing indifference perfected by successive regimes since the 1960s.

Our informed opinion regarding the issue of economic sanctions is that the US should continue to use them. However, it should apply them with approval from the UN and other countries in order to give it validity. A careful assessment of cost benefit analysis of imposing economic sanctions needs to be done to see which measures the US can take.The US should consider adopting strategies that only exert pressure on the ruling elite and avoid punishing the citizens of the country being investigated. Again, when a country imposes sanctions on another, it indirectly punishes itself as well. This is because it cannot transact any business with the said country until the misunderstanding is sorted out. Constructive engagement approach would do the trick as it allows both countries to be courteous with each other thus allowing other things to continue with some normalcy. This is where a country tries to correct an erring country though constructive dialogue rather than issue orders and ultimatums.

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