The Instigator
Pro (for)
5 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

Economic Sanctions Should Not Be Used To Achieve Foreign Policy Objectives

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/21/2014 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 586 times Debate No: 55178
Debate Rounds (4)
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Votes (1)




First round is for acceptance only. I look forward to an interesting debate.


As do I, round 2 then?
Debate Round No. 1


Thanks for accepting the challenge, Con. Before I begin, I"ll define a few key terms to ensure clarity.

1.Economic sanction- domestic penalties applied by one country (or group of countries) on another country (or group of countries). Economic sanctions may include various forms of trade barriers and restrictions on financial transactions.

2.Societal Welfare- doing what is best for society as a whole

3.Morality- conformity to ideals of right human conduct (Webster"s New Collegiate Dictionary)

Economic sanctions should not be used to achieve foreign policy objectives. When we do not impose economic sanctions on other countries we are being moral because we must not coerce a nation to conform to our ideals simply because they deviate from our standards of conduct in certain areas. We must recognize other nation"s sovereignty and autonomy and only respond with physical force when directly attacked. Therefore, we must base our decisions (in order to achieve morality) on the criterion of societal welfare. When we have achieved societal welfare we have reached a state of morality because we have implemented the best possible option for members of a society.

I will demonstrate how sanctions violate societal welfare in three ways: first that they are extremely unlikely to succeed, next that sanctions are a form of warfare targeted against innocent civilians and the poor, and finally that almost all past efforts involving sanctions have failed.

I.Sanctions Are Unlikely To Succeed

I would like to begin with a fairly lengthy quotation from Ivan Eland"s article "Sanctions: Useless or Worse than Useless?" "With some qualifications, economic sanctions usually fail, both economically and politically. Although bans on trade, investment, lending, travel, etc. can bite initially, smuggling and black markets are lucrative and, over time, become rampant. Over the long term, the best that can be accomplished is to raise the prices paid by the target nation for the things it wants. Because sanctions use economic coercion to try to achieve political ends, attenuation of the economic pain through adaptation lessens the chance that sanctions will produce the desired political outcome. The possibility of political success is further diminished by the oft grandiose goals of the sanctioning nations- for example, sanctions attempting to change the nature of an oppressive regime, such as those proposed against the government of Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus. Furthermore, although apartheid was eventually eliminated in South Africa, the mild international sanctions imposed on that country had less to do with its removal than did the internal social movement for the reform of a ghastly social anachronism."

As is apparent from the examples presented in this article in countless others, economic sanctions are not only ineffective, but they also often create more problems than they solve. When our imposed sanctions negatively affect the population purposelessly we do not achieve societal welfare and are thereby also immoral.

II.Sanctions Are A Form Of Warfare Targeted Against Civilians

I begin with a quote from Robert M. Hayden"s article "Sanctions and Collective Guilt". "The catastrophic effects of sanctions should come as no surprise. While many writers seem to think of sanctions as an alternative to war, in international law a blockade has always been recognized as an act of war. Since the military, police and ruling political elites will always get the first and best access to whatever goods that still reach the targeted country, sanctions are a form of warfare aimed primarily at the civilian population and, among them at those least well connected to the political leadership."

Again, the parties which any declaration of war is meant to include are not majorly involved. Sanctioning not only attacks the poor, but often affects most those who are most sympathetic to the idea of an overthrow of whatever corrupt leadership may be in place at the time. Causing such blatant damage to innocent members of a country"s populace clearly does not uphold societal welfare and is immoral.

III.Economic Sanctions Generally Fail

I begin my final contention with a quote from Robert P. Quinn"s "A User"s Guide to Economic Sanctions". "Historically, economic sanctions have a poor track record. Between 1914 and 1990, various countries imposed economic sanctions in 116 cases. They failed to achieve their stated objective in 66 percent of those cases and were at best only partially successful in most of the rest. Since 1973, the success ratio for economic sanctions has fallen precipitously to 24 percent for all cases."

This evidence shows empirically that sanctions are typically completely unsuccessful and even the occasion success is only partial. To follow any system with such a poor track record of failure does not uphold societal welfare.

You see, demanding that trade be ceased with a country might be acceptable if it achieved the greater good for the people, but instead it only hurts the businesses of the sanctioning country and the innocent in the sanctioned country.


I do not believe that sanctions are made to be successful, and i also agree that they target innocent civilians but that would be the point, crippling the economy of a country and having its people unhappy with the way that there leader is handling it, yes smuggling does become rampant which is something im sure leaders know of, which is another tool to use against the leader of what ever country is getting sanctioned news would cover the subject and the country seems even worse, sanctions create problems that everyone can see the outcome of they make more problems but for the country there put on, for example on may, 4th an article was published about Canada "putin" (joke) economic sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine situation this puts into the effects that I stated no there not made to be successful, and they target the citizens of Russia making them fussy and unhappy this situation is much better than if we were to directly attack Russia because 1. no one would win that fight and 2. people would most defiantly die like a lot of them, i think of sanctions as economic warfare its less violent and way less people die cause of it Sanctions unlike Actual war one side wins and its normally a majority over a topic that most countries feel is ill morale and just not right this is why they are used instead of warfare the convince countries to stop what there doing like Russia moving its troop away from the border to lessen the sanction put on it
i do not know your side of the Ukraine crisis but i feel it wrong and sanctions aside from war and sitting back and watch a country get taken over is the best option, Sanctions are effective in the sense they get a country to think
Debate Round No. 2


My opponent has conceded all of my points and offered no evidence to the contrary. He has not shown that economic sanctions are moral or in any way uphold societal welfare. He even states that sanctions are intrinsically unsuccessful and are in fact a form of economic war targeted against civilians. By that logic, carpet bombing cities is also an ethically just military strategy, as it would cause the general populous to become disgruntled and would ensure that we assume less casualties. I contend that my opponent cannot show how punishing the people is in any way a desirable or ethical system.

My opponent offers only two solid arguments in favor of economic sanctions.
I. That Economic Sanctions Are A Positive Alternative To War
II. Sanctions Have The Positive Effect Of Causing The Sanctioned Nation To "Think"

To my opponent's first contention, I ask this simple question: at what point between war and peace is the just alternative to punish the innocent populous? If a regime is so corrupt that our nation cannot tolerate its existence we are compelled to declare war on that regime. If not, then we must be content to sit by and allow them their autonomy. There is no middle ground in which the situation is not severe enough to warrant war, but is negative enough to allow for the punishment of the innocent and often their deaths.

As to his later contention, I ask how economic sanctions mandate a nation to think in a way that a formal reprimand from the UN could not? Neither is a formal deceleration of war and both are explicit statements of disapproval of some aspect of the countries government, but one punishes the innocent while the other does not.

My opponent has not justified sanctions, and has in fact by his acknowledgement of their corrupt nature condemned them.


The argument is sanctions shouldn't be used to achieve foreign policy objectives, not if there morale which is all you're argument is saying and which was you're rebuttal
1. Economic sanctions are better than war, there more effective, few if any have to die and it doesn't waste human lives my evidence is that on its own
2. the effect of getting a country to think is clear with Russia moving its troops from the border of Ukraine
Punishing the populous is harsh considering the affects of economic sanctions are only felt in the form of inflation there was recently reporters from the US that went into Iran and the people there are doing "fine" even with the inflation they stated people were sill at the shop and spending money, the sanctions target citizens to affect its government Iranian officials also mentioned the smuggling,
Punishing would be bombing schools, torture, or what Israel wants us to do to them "starve them to get rid of the nukes"
that is punishment the prices rising from inflation are what make them effective that prompts the people to not side with there own government,
Something that i would like to add is it says your occupation is military what you are saying is that you would rather be sent into war because a country didn't follow what the rest of the world wants economic sanctions protect people not just in the military but citizens by not forcing them into conflicts that would be not worth it.
Sanctions should be used to achieve political compliance because they will not stray from there ideologies because a officials ask them too economic sanctions act as a first step along with other types of sanctions to prevent war because that would be what was next.
Debate Round No. 3


I'm not sure that I understood my opponent's arguments in their entirety due to grammar and spelling, but I will address them to the best of my abilities in this final round.

I point out first and most importantly that my opponent has failed to provide any evidence or sources to support his claims. They simply bear no weight without statistical or at least intellectual authority. I further add, to do so in his final round must be unacceptable as I will not have any further opportunities to offer rebuttal.

My opponent has changed his mind from round two to round three. He initially stated that economic sanctions are ineffective, but now claims that not only are they effective- they are more effective than war. Not only does he fail to provide that less die in sanctioned regions than in war zones, he fails to address my primary contention that the innocent citizens are the members of a sanctioned nation which bear the weight of the punishment.

Punishing is not what my opponent states- bombing schools and torture. That is more than punishment. That is explicit inhumanity. To imply that starving impoverished children and civilians is not punishment, and to reach the definition of punishment one must bomb schools reflects a political psychopathy.

Finally, my opponent claims that sanctions will save more lives by not forcing us into war. He has offered no evidence of this again and has failed to address my contention that in the most extreme scenarios we are compelled to physical retribution (war) but in lesser situations, a simple UN reprimand would be effective enough to convey the general international opinion of an individual country's actions without punishing the innocent.

My opponent has failed to offer any substantial reason to support economic sanctions, while I have shown that they are both unsuccessful and a form of war against the innocent. You must vote Pro.


lopeztb812 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
No comments have been posted on this debate.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Blade-of-Truth 2 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
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Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
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Total points awarded:50 
Reasons for voting decision: Conduct - Pro. Con forfeited R4, which is rarely acceptable behavior in any debate setting. I must therefore take conduct points from Con. S & G - Pro. Con made spelling and grammatical errors throughout the debate. This is evidenced with improper capitalization. misplaced punctuation, etc., therefore Pro takes this category. Arguments - Pro. Con continuously failed to properly rebut Pro's points. Aside from agreeing with certain points raised by Pro, Con failed to utilize the opportunity of using sources to validate certain claims when they call for it. This can be seen in R3 by sharing quotes apparently made by Israeli and claiming bombs are the alternative answer. Without validation of such claims, they hold little to no ground in his favor as Pro pointed out several times. Pro clearly presented better arguments due to the reasons above and therefore wins those points. Sources - Tie. Neither utilized sources in this debate. Therefore this category ends in a tie. Good debate guys!