The Economic Warfare Body Count

Source: Eunomia
by Daniel Larison

“Sanctions advocates always point to sanctions’ economic destructiveness as proof that the policy is ‘working,’ but in most cases this doesn’t lead to the targeted state making any of the desired policy changes. Adversarial authoritarian states are least likely to make concessions under sanctions pressure, so whenever there is a debate over the efficacy of sanctioning an authoritarian state the supporters of the economic war have to resort to the equivalent of a body count to back up their claims. … ‘Look at all the destruction we have caused!’ they say, and then redefine success as nothing more than inflicting economic pain. This was a standard Trump administration defense of their ‘maximum pressure’ campaigns. It didn’t matter if the targeted government’s behavior changed for the better (it didn’t) or if they became more conciliatory (they hadn’t), because their economies were being strangled.” (01/19/23)