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. [...]
[...] Finally, the presence of morality in politics was questioned. Bibliography Books van Bergeijk, A.G. Economic Diplomacy, Trade and Commercial Policy.Hants: Edward Elgar Publishing Limited Electroning Resources Barber, J. (1979) Economic Sanctions As a Policy Instrument. International Affairs, Vol No Available from: JSTOR at www.jstor.com. Cortright, D. (1995) Humanitarian Sanctions? The Moral and Political Isssues. The Human Rights Brief. Available at: http://www.wcl.american.edu/hrbrief/. Drezner, D.W. (2003) How Smart Are Smart Sanctions?. International Studies Review. Available at:www.danieldrezner.com. Gordon, J. (2004) When Economic Sanctions [...]
[...] However, there exists the possibility of economic sanctions that are designed to target the government instead of the civilian population. These are called smart sanctions, and they mostly refer to arms embargoes, freezing assets, communication and travel limitations and bans on the import of luxury items. These sanctions are often preferred by theorists as being a more humane option, 'as they single out groups and individuals responsible for wrongdoing and pinpoint elite needs and desires' Weiss, T.G. (1999) 'Sanctions as a Foreign' . [...]
[...] It is quite obvious that providing aid in these cases would only serve as a way to ease the burden on the imposing country's conscience, moreover it would not prove effective on the long run either. Sanctions or/and War? Having already presented the original idea behind the origins of moral economic sanctions and questioned its validity, it is quite surprising that some theorists claim with certainty that economic sanctions are ethical alternatives. David Cortright asserts that 'multilateral sanctions offer the prospect of a more civilized world where international norms are actually enforced not through military violence but through the power of trade' Cortright, D. Humanitarian Sanctions? The Moral and Political Isssues. [...]
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