Friday, July 18, 2003


William of Baude says why he opposes sanctions against Burma, and by implication sanctions against most other governments, as well. I think he makes at least one excellent point: "I think it's not just bad policy but profoundly perverse to punish American citizen and Burmese citizen alike when all that most of the Burmese citizens have done wrong is to fail to stop their chosen leader from being ousted by the military."

I can find no evidence whatsoever that sanctions work, except against countries that have a strong semblance of democracy among at least some segment of the population, as in the cases of Yugoslavia and South Africa. But have they affected Iraq? North Korea? Cuba? Moammar Qadhafi has been attempting to get Libya off the "rogue state" list, but I kind of doubt simply escaping sanctions was the reason. When you look at Iraq today, remember that the Iraqi economy was torn apart not by the war or Saddam's dictatorship, but by 12 years of sanctions, sanctions which maye have emasculated the regime with respect to its neighbors but left its population clinging to minimal standards of living and dependent on aid from that regime for their day-to-day living.

I will now for the first and probably only time on this blog agree with something Pat Buchanan said during his 2000 Presidentian campaign: Sanctions are a weapon of cowards. They allow politicians to look like they're standing up for something without making any real sacrifices. Do I always support going to war in these cases? No, of course not. But in Iraq, the sanctions killed far more people than the war. Those now cheering the sanctions on Burma should probably ask the Burmese people what they think.


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