Worldwide violence leads to question of urgency. Civil unrest around the globe has existed since the end of the Cold War, dashing hopes for an “End of History”. Western nations have imposed sanctions on countries like Syria (2001) to protect the liberties of the citizens and to deter a possible action that would affect various actors in the global arena. Economic sanctions have been used often, including in Syria, but rarely worked to achieve goals, for the following 10 reasons.
1. Will not work:
Robert Frisk doubts that sanctions will work. He argues that sanctions get the coercive and repressive government to do what US, EU and NATO want. In the case of Iraq in the early 1990s, economic sanctions hurt the people more than the government. It caused widespread famine and more reliance on Saddam Hussein.
2. International Trade:
Success is rare. Syria may be able to tap into international trade through globalization. They can easily find alternative suppliers goods andcapital.
3. Not everyone is sanctioning:
In order for a coercive state to be impacted, all countries who have direct ties with it, need to be part of the punishment. Alternatively, at least major suppliers of capital and goods need to be on the same page. Iran is one country that Syria may turn to, and who will not impose sanctions.
4. Deterrence has rarely been achieved:
US and NATO have utilized economic sanctions for deterrence. This has rarely worked, especially when the United States tried to deter India and Pakistan from testing nuclear bombs.
5. Costly to firms:
Many firms have business relations with Syria. By imposing a sanction, all business relations will cease. Given this, firms and workers pay an immediate price.
6. Will not back down:
As in the cases with Iran, Egypt and Libya, the leader is authoritarian and almost never wants to back down. In Libya, 1000s of protestors were murdered, raped and arrested for defying Gadaffi. Sanctions may thus not be enough to eliminate the tyrant in Syria.
7. Goals hardly achieved in the past:
Economic sanctions have had a poor track record in the past. Between 1914 and 1990, countries around the world imposed economic sanctions in 116 cases. They failed to achieve their stated objectives in 66 percent of those cases.
8. Multilateral problems:
Sometimes unilateral sanctions are better than multilateral ones. One sanction may be enough to persuade a country or its state to change. In the case of Syria, the unilateral decision must come from an influential country, not a number of smaller countries.
9. Too often used:
When something is used too often without effect, it will lose significance. It would be called an empty threat. There should be conditions that Syria should meet if it does not comply, other than sanctions.
10. New approach:
Sometimes a different approach is necessary. This approach must have nothing to do with sanctions.