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Symbolic or Substantive? Financial Sanctions Against Russia
March 21st, 2014
I’ve noted before that sanctions, while certainly well-intentioned, are often meaningless in practice. In large part, this occurs because of many of the opacity issues in the international financial system. As a result of these flaws, whether intentionally or not, sanctions are often (although not always) purely symbolic. So in the case of Russia, which is now on the receiving end of the so-called “toughest sanctions since the Cold War,” are financial sanctions symbolic or substantive? Given the current dynamics in Russia and abroad, are they likely to work? If you’ve been reading the news at all,...
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Why Did Sanctions Against Iran Work?
November 28th, 2013
After decades of sanctions and years of negotiations, the permanent members of the UN Security Council (and Germany) have reached a temporary deal on Iran’s nuclear program. Under the agreement, for the next six months, Iran will halt activities that would enable it to make a nuclear weapon and allow international inspectors to dramatically increase their oversight of the program. In exchange, the United Nations and the United States will ease international economic and financial sanctions (including by unfreezing billions in Iranian assets abroad). Not everyone is happy with the deal. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it an “historic...
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Poverty, Sanctions, and North Korea's Nuclear Ambitions
February 20th, 2013
This week North Korea released an inflammatory new propaganda video showing President Obama and United States troops in flames. The video then credits America’s “gangster-like policy of hostility” for the country’s decision to become a “strong military power” and conduct its latest nuclear test. Like many other North Korean propaganda videos, this one also blames the nation's overwhelming poverty—including chronic food shortages—to the imperialist bullying of America. Although the video and its sentiment is far from new—North Korea has been releasing such propaganda for years—the implications of this one are a little more pressing this time around. That’s because North...
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