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Jewish World Review June 10, 2002 / 1 Tamuz, 5762

Dick Morris

Dick Morris
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Sanctions are a potent weapon | Military action dominates the media coverage, but recent developments underscore, once again, the effectiveness of economic sanctions in punishing rogue regimes and persuading them to rejoin the global community.

Libya's offer to settle with the victims of Pan Am flight 103 if, and only if, sanctions are lifted by the United Nations and the United States, graphically illustrates the impact such measures can have.

Sudan, hurt by its State Department listing as a nation that encourages terrorism, has been falling all over itself to get back in America's good graces.

In 1995, Sudan was reported to have been willing to turn bin Laden over to American authorities, an offer we refused because Clinton's FBI and CIA had not yet discovered his role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and, hence, did not have grounds to hold him.

Across the Mediterranean, the new democratic regime in Serbia risks domestic unrest by demanding that those wanted for war crimes trials by the Hague turn themselves in - again as part of an effort to get sanctions lifted.

Indeed, Pakistani cooperation with the United States in pursuing bin Laden in the first place was likely catalyzed by its desire to end American sanctions imposed in the aftermath of its explosion of a nuclear bomb during the end of the Clinton years.

Though economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation will do nothing to discipline the likes of Saddam Hussein, a dictator willing to make his people suffer in starved silence while he uses secret police to bludgeon them into submission, it works well against most regimes - even rogue ones. As our military action clearly brings results, so do our sanctions.

Even though the United States had to go to war with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic over Kosovo, the threat of economic sanctions were sufficient to give Dick Holbrook the leverage he needed to force the Serbian dictator to curb the role of his war criminal allies in the emerging Bosnian State during a diplomatic high wire act in 1996. As Holbrook attests, Milosevic would never have budged had not sanctions been waiting in the wings.

The most ingenious application of sanctions was that suggested by Republican Alfonse D'Amato, the former New York senator, when he pioneered the passage of economic sanctions against specific companies that helped enrich Iran's oil industry. The D'Amato law requires imposition of a wide range of imaginative sanctions against these companies, even if they're located on foreign soil. It cut off Export-Import Bank and Overseas Private Investment Corporation financing for any such companies and banned them from handling U.S. government bonds.

Unfortunately Clinton, never comfortable with the D'Amato law, waived the sanctions and refused to apply them, bowing to European pressure. Bush would do well to revisit the D'Amato law as he seeks to confront Iran.

The idea of economic sanctions had its origin in Thomas Jefferson's determination to develop alternatives to war in international relations. His first step was to decide to try to buy land rather than kill for it, as he did with the Louisiana Purchase. Faced with British impressments of American sailors, our third president chose to impose an economic embargo rather than go to war with our historic adversary. Jefferson's America was too vulnerable and economic sanctions backfired, but today's United States is such an economic powerhouse that sanctions send a strong message.

There is a tendency on the right of our domestic politics to see sanctions as a weak response and military action as a strong one. But the track record of sanctions suggests that this view of the effectiveness of sanctions and diplomatic isolation is misleading and outdated.

As the United States expands its military clout as the world's only superpower, we must not forget our economic power as the world's largest economy. When national sanctions are coupled with U.N. action, economic boycott can be a particularly potent weapon.

Look at how well it is working.

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JWR contributor Dick Morris is the author of, among others, "Power Plays: Top 20 Winning and Losing Strategies of History's Great Political Leaders" Comment by clicking here.


06/04/02: Al Qaeda's more dangerous new front
05/31/02: Why '04 looks tough for liberal Dems
05/24/02: Democratic self-destruction
05/22/02: The Clinton failures
05/15/02: Pataki positioned to win
05/08/02: A wakeup-call for American Jewry
05/03/02: Give Bush back his focus
05/01/02: Immigration fault li(n)es
04/25/02: It's the war, stupid
04/17/02: Bush goes small bore
04/12/02: Bush must be a gentle partisan
04/10/02: In defense of polling
04/08/02: Focus on Iraq, not the Palestinians
04/01/02: Only Internet will bring real campaign finance reform
03/27/02: Where W's drawn a line in the sand
03/22/02: Enron scandal will not trigger a wave of economic populism
03/20/02: Term-limited --- by war
03/15/02: Europe doesn't have a clue
03/11/02: Bush popularity = GOP win?
03/01/02: Will America be forced to chase its tail in its war on terrorism?
02/27/02: The Arafat/Saddam equilibrium must be destroyed
02/21/02: Campaign finance reform won't hurt GOPers
02/13/02: Dodd scurries for cover
02/11/02: U.S. 'unilateralism'? The Europeans don't have a case
02/06/02: WAR: What women want
02/01/02: They all talk in the end
01/30/01: The odd couple: Chris Dodd and Arthur Andersen
01/22/01: His father's son? Bush better get an 'Act II' fast!
01/18/01: Dubya & the 'vision thing'
01/14/01: The Rumsfeld Doctrine 01/03/01: A President Gore would have been a disaster
01/03/02: Clinton's priority: Political correctness over fighting terror
12/27/01: Terror network grew out of Clinton's inaction, despite warnings
12/24/01: Call 'em back, George
12/18/01: What Bush did right
12/13/01: Libs worry too much
12/11/01: "Open Sesame": Feinstein's proposed bill allows 100,000 non-immigrant students from anti-American countries to our shores
12/07/01: The non-partisan president
12/05/01: Both parties are phony on stimulus debate
11/29/01: When terrorists can enter legally, it's time to change the laws
11/21/01: Go for the jugular!
11/16/01: You are all incumbents
11/14/01: Clinton's failure to mobilize America to confront foreign terror after the 1993 attack led directly to 9-11 disaster
11/12/01: To the generals: Don't worry about losing support
11/08/01: The death of the white liberal
11/07/01: Our leaders are being transformed in a way unprecedented in post-World War II history

© 2001, Dick Morris