So, as you may or may not know, Mr. Watchlist writes commentary for his company’s weekly sanctions newsletter. And a lot of that job is reading sanctions-related stories.
Now, very few of those stories are about the actual imposition of sanctions or passage of laws and regulations. A lot of what he has to read is stories about the impact of sanctions (or lack thereof) on both targeted parties and on sanctioned countries’ economies and the general wellbeing of their populaces. Related to this, Mr. Watchlist has to read lots of stories about public statements made by public officials in the targeted countries, those of their allies, and officials at international organizations like the United Nations.
And a lot of that reaction is about how sanctions are “illegal”, “cruel”, “inhumane”, etc.
Given that sanctions exist to exert pressure over bad actors without having to resort to violence (e.g. military action), here is Mr. Watchlist’s question that I really want to see some responses to:
What’s the alternative to economic sanctions? Not symbolic ones, but ones that actually have a chance of influencing the actions of bad actors?
For nations that have a history of saying one thing, but doing the opposite (Mr. Watchlist sees you, North Korea, Iran & Venezuela), does the international community just sit by and let them continue their actions, hoping that they don’t end up starting a war? For nations committing what are considered by the international community to be excessive force or coercion in suppressing dissent or diversity, is the response supposed to be limited to disapproving statements that allow those actions to continue without consequence (see Cuba, Nicaragua and Xinjiang)?
Really – is there an effective alternative to economic sanctions, other than forceful actions like sabotage or war?
Mr. Watchlist would really like to know…