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Are economic sanctions a moral alternative to force?

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Nora B.
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  1. The concept of economic sanctions.
  2. It is all history.
  3. Can sanctions be moral?
  4. Sanctions or/and War?
  5. Smart Sanctions?
  6. Iraq: a case study.
  7. Immoral means to end immorality?
  8. Can politics be moral?
  9. Conclusion.

Having witnessed so many wars in history, it would seem an obvious answer that any other solution than force should be welcomed for resolving conflicts in international politics. Economic sanctions, as means of economic statecraft has frequently been used as an alternative. However, not only its efficacy but also its morality is highly questionable and is subject of continuing debate among scholars of international relations. The main dilemma concerning economic sanctions is that even though at first they seem a much more humane solution than war, on the long run their consequences can be devastating. In this essay I will present a brief introduction to the history of the concept of sanctions as a moral alternative, then give an overview of academic literature, then compare sanctions and wars in respect to morality, then the case of Iraq will be presented. Finally I will reflect on the problem of a superior morality, then generally question the presence of morality in international politics (economic or military).

[...] As in most cases economic sanctions are most likely to be aiming at a government or a dictator not respecting human rights, it is highly possible that the suffering of his/her/their people will not lead to a change of policy, instead, sanctions will only be used by the government to take a moral stance against the imposing nation in front of their people. Thus, it can be concluded that sanctions are rarely effective in themselves and possibly will not cause less harm than wars, not mentioning the fact that they are very often followed by them. [...]


[...] As Weiss claims, 'sanctions are ideal when governments have no vital interests, as non-forcible sanctions give politicians the ability to engage in cheap moralizing but refrain from serious engagement' Weiss, T.G. (1999) 'Sanctions as a Foreign' . Conclusion It can be therefore concluded that economic sanctions are not a moral alternative to force, as they mostly result in the total devastation of the target country, leading to casualties from the most vulnerable groups, children and women. There are sanctions which aim at the needs of the responsible parties,these are in most cases ineffective, however. Moreover economic sanctions are usually followed by war, thus further worsening the situation. [...]


[...] Available from: JSTOR at www.jstor.com . This might seem an exageration, however, it just proves again that imposing such an extensive embargo on a country, is dangerous and can by no means be called moral. Halliday intends to point out that even bombing a country is less worse than waiting until the population starves to death. Thus,we can conclude that the case of Iraq proves our point that economic sanctions are certainly not more ethical than wars. Immoral means to end immorality? [...]

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