The Instigator
Pro (for)
7 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
7 Points

Resolved: Economic sanctions ought not be used to achieve foreign policy objectives

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/17/2010 Category: Politics
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,074 times Debate No: 10857
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (9)
Votes (2)




I affirm the resolution which states, Resolved: Economic sanctions ought not be used to achieve foreign policy objectives.

Observation 1: Definitions: I will now clarify the terms of the debate by offering up the following definitions found in Law Legal Dictionary 5th Edition.

a)Economic sanctions - Restrictions upon international trade and finance that one country imposes on another for political reasons.

Observation 2: Value and Criterion.

Value: The supreme value in which to weigh the round is that of protection of human dignity.

Author of Human Dignity: Social Autonomy and the Critique of Capitalism, Werner Bonefeld, explains human dignity as "Dignity cannot be sold, quantified or conferred. Dignity is a concrete human value that belongs to each individual. It is an indivisible human value. Human dignity subsists through the mutual recognition of human needs."

By imposing an economic sanction, it is an innocent citizen within its country who suffers the most. However, the political leaders who were the original target of an economic sanction do not suffer. Therefore, instead of achieving foreign policy objectives, economic sanctions cause poverty for an innocent people. Then, as Bonefeld explained, lacking human needs is a violation of human dignity. Thus, using economic sanction to achieve foreign policy objects only violates innocent human dignity by causing people to live in poverty.

Criterion: The only way to uphold the value of human dignity is the standard of promotion of social welfare. As Bonefeld explains, having all the human needs are the central part of recognizing human dignity. By promoting social welfares, people can achieve what they lack.

According to the 3rd Edition of Business dictionary, it explains social welfare as "It is not the same as standard of living but is more like quality of life that includes factors such as the quality of the environment (air, soil, water), level of crime, extent of drug abuse, availability of essential social services.

Since human dignity encompasses recognizing human needs, social welfare is directly related to human dignity because social welfare provides all kinds of human needs such as financial stability, religious freedom, and social safety. Furthermore, since the resolution discusses about effect of economic sanction, my criterion of social welfare is pertinent.

Furthermore, Santions should not be used to achieve political goals because they ware in violation of the Geneva Protocol for three reason:

1.It targes civilians in breach of Articles 48 and 51.
2.It constitutes indiscriminant attack, in breach of Article 51
3.It employs starvation as a method of warfare, breach of Article 54.

Contention 1: United State's Embargo against Cuba

Salim Lamrani, author of article "The economic sanctions against Cuba: the Failure of a cruel and Irrational Policy", said, "The economic sanctions have also had a disastrous impact on the food availability of Cubans. In fact, the U.S. strictly limits Cuba's acquisition of foodstuffs. Between May 2006 and April 2007 U.S. measures caused losses valued at $258 million in this sector. The health sector also suffers; losses are evaluated at $30 million. The education, culture, transportation, housing, industrial and agricultural sectors are also seriously affected by the economic sanctions."

This quotation illustrates that the true victim of economic sanction was not a political leader but an innocent citizens. Furthermore, economic sanction gave detrimental effect on food availability, education, and transportation, which can be summed up as social welfare.

Furthermore, Lamrani said, "For 15 consecutive years, the general assembly of the United Nations has voted in favor of lifting the economic sanctions that seriously harm the Cuban people. The international community is unanimous on this issue, with the majority continually increasing. In 2006, 183 countries condemned the cruel and illegal state of siege that Washington imposes on Cuba."

Thus, U.S's embargo against Cuba not only was unable to attain foreign policy objects, but also gave huge harmful effect to normal Cubans. Therefore, embargo against Cuba ultimately lead to United States to violate Cuban's dignity with getting international blames.

Impact of this embargo, then, is obvious. United States have violated human dignity which led fall of basic necessity for a Cuban. Then, furthermore, United States did not successfully achieve its foreign policy objects.

Contention 2: United State's Economic sanction against Japan

Ian Johnson, author of The failure of Economic Sanction, said, "[Before World War II], The Japanese involvement in China had caught the attention of the United States. The U.S. wished to apply pressure to the Japanese in order to stop their war in China. The decision was made to place an embargo on oil imported to Japan. In theory, the embargo on oil imported into Japan was meant to deprive the Japanese war machine of its fuel. Without fuel, the Japanese would be forced to seek a peaceful end to their war in China. However, Japan launched a surprise attack against the Americans at Pearl Harbor in late 1941 meant to knock the American Pacific Fleet out of the war.

Thus, although United States aimed for peaceful way to stop Japanese aggression, it led United States into the biggest war in history. Therefore, by imposing an economic sanction to Japan, United States endangered human dignity and social welfare in both United States and Japan by entering into the World War II.

Impact of this economic sanction, then, is conspicuous. United States threatened all its citizens to destructive war, and it resulted to kill thousands of innocent citizens by choosing a policy of economic sanction.

Contention 3: United State's economic sanction against Myanmar
Leon T. Hadar, the author of "U.S Sanctions against Burma: A failure on all fronts", said, "The U.S. policy of imposing unilateral trade and investment sanctions against Burma has proven to be a failure on all fronts. By forcing U.S. firms to disengage from Burma, that policy has done nothing to improve the living conditions or human rights of the people of Burma. Also, United States alienated its allies. Now those allies are legitimately concerned that the United States, having failed to persuade them, will attempt to coerce them to follow its policies against Rangoon."
Thus, due to economic sanction against Myanmar, United States not only brutally violated human dignity of innocent Myanmar citizens but also alienated its allies, thus, unable to attain foreign policy objectives.
Furthermore, due to economic sanction, HIV rates and crime rates have been increasing. According to Larry A. Niksch, who is the author of "Burma: Economic Sanctions" said, "In Myanmar, among people aged 15-24, or the country's future doctors, bureaucrats, commanders, entrepreneurs and parents, the infection rate is a high 2.2%. One in three sex workers tested positive for HIV in 2007, against one in four in 2004, according to the Department of Health and the National AIDS Program."
Then, According to U.N, it said, "The Union of Myanmar is the world's second largest producer of illicit opium, accounting for 8% of global opium production in 2007."

Thus, during the economic sanction, which was from 2007 to present, it clearly shows that starting with the economic sanction, crime rate and HIV rate significantly increased. Thus, these increasing issues clearly violate human dignity by ignoring social welfare.

Thank you for debating with me


I negate the resolution as stated.

Observation 1: The term, "ought" is defined as a moral obligation, further synonymous with should derived from shall which indicates a concrete requirement along the same lines as "will" or "must". By adding "not" indicates that the affirmative's position states that economic sanctions should not be used to achieve foreign policy objectives.

Observation 2: In order for the affirmative to win, the affirmative is required to prove that there is never a circumstance where economic sanctions are to be used.

In order for the negative to win, the negative must demonstrate that at least one circumstance exists in which economic sanctions ought to be used.

Value Premise: Security

Value Criterion: Preservation of Rights & Safety

C-1: Rewards & Consequences

A. Every decision is a choice. A choice to do the right thing and receive self satisfaction, praise, or possibly some type of reward. A choice to do the wrong thing and possibly accept some type of consequence. The international community, as well as the United Nations, issues consequences in the form of a series of increasingly restrictive and aggressive forms of punishment after diplomacy has failed. According to the Heritage Foundation, these measures include levels of diplomacy; non-economic sanctions, economic sanctions; and military action. Economic sanctions are the last resort prior to going to war when the less restrictive measures have proven unsuccessful.

B. The punishment must fit the crime.
1. Initially, the intent of counselling is not to punish, but rather to change the undesirable behavior or action. This can be likened to diplomacy. If diplomacy does not resolve the issue at hand, the next step would be to apply non-economic sanctions such as: denying visas, removing diplomats, blocking membership to prestigious alliances, or boycotting summits, meetings, etc. If this too should fail to achieve the desired result, the next logical step is indeed economic sanctions.

The beauty of economic sanctions is that the imposing nation decides what items to sanction. This goes hand in hand with the punishment fitting the crime. A common misconception is that when economic sanctions are imposed, the nation being sanctioned is isolated from the world and receives nothing. The skies turn gray, everyone wears black sack cloth, everyone is sad and depressed and is forced to go without food, water, clothing, and medicine. To the contrary, the imposing nation may simply deny or restrict as few as 1 single item! The items to be sanctioned are the same items that are causing the controversy. In theory, no one even has to die, and only a select few have to be inconvenienced.

2. One of the most important functions of a government is to protect the legitimate rights and safety of it's citizens. Let's use a semi-hypothetical scenario to illustrate my point. Let's say the fictious nation of Perso-Eran has stated an intent to attack and destroy the nation of Ziono-El Bet. The nature of their attack is based upon the doctrine of intolerance in their religious way of life. Perso-Eran isn't strong enough militarily to accomplish this undertaking in conventional warfare, therefore, they decide that the better strategy would be to develop a nuclear weapon with which to attack the fictitious nation of Ziono-El-Bet, and drive them into the Blue Sea.

They attempt to disguise their declared intent by claiming to obtain items such as centrifuges, plutonium, and uranium for "alternative energy development". The leaders of Ziono-El-Bet see this for what it really appears to be and send their ambassador to discuss the matter. Perso-Eran refuses to see the ambassador, and insists that the items requested from Russland are for energy only. Ziono-El-Bet pulls their ambassador and threatens to deny travel visas to Perso-Eran. While mildly inconvenienced, Perso-Eran continues to seek items for their wmd, I mean, energy program.

The leaders of Ziono-El-Bet impose economic sanctions against Perso-Eran with respect to receipt of plutonium, uranium, and centrifuges. Note they did not kill anyone, they did not inconvenience but a handful of Perso citizens (those which were being hired to develop the wmd, I mean, energy project).

So as to avoid going to war, Ziono-El-Bet has recognized the need to follow protocol, and use the stair step measures in sequence to finally stop a potential attack on their nation. Therefore they validated the value of security by preserving the rights and safety of their citizens. Further, they did so by ensuring that the punishment fit the crime, they only denied the items necessary to protect their security.

C-2: Semantics
Ecclesiastes Chapter 3 tells us that there is a time and place for everything under the sun. "Everything" is an all inclusive term which extends to economic sanctions. Economic sanctions are something, something is part of everything, thus --> there is indeed a time and place for economic sanctions.

Summary, I have successfully negated the resolution as stated.

The Affirmative's case:
The Negative will stipulate the Affirmative's provided definitions.
VP: Protection of Human dignity. Based upon the source provided by the Affirmative, "eg. Dignity cannot be quantified" implies that the stated Value Criterion (which is used to measure the value premise) cannot measure the VP.

I have demonstrated that a possible scenario exists in which the average citizen would not suffer the effects of an imposed economic sanction.

Value Criterion: If nothing can quantify human dignity, but social welfare can, why was it necessary to include that as a source?

Sanctions can be applied that do not violate articles 48, 51, and 54 as stated.

OP C-1: The Negative will stipulate that economic sanctions against Cuba were not only unsuccessful, but also a childish & revengeful debacle of foreign policy. They were unsuccessful because they were unrealistic. Had they been SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, & timely) there likely may have been a different outcome. I extend this same example to Contentions 2 & 3.

OP C-2: The Negative will stipulate that economic sanctions against Japan backfired.

OP C-3: The Negative will stipulate that economic sanctions against Burma/Myanmar were ultimately unsuccessful.

Extended; the Negative will further stipulate that in a study by the Heritage Foundation, economic sanctions were imposed a total of 116 times during the period 1914-1990, and were unsuccessful a whopping 66% of time! Conversely, they were successful 34% of the time.

Do economic sanctions have a history of futility? YES
Do economic sanctions have the capability to degradate? YES
Has there ever been a time to use economic sanctions? YES
Have economic sanctions ever been successful? YES, in fact, mathematically speaking 34% of the time.

Given the above, I have met my responsibility and request a Negative ballot. Thank you!
Debate Round No. 1


First CX to my opponent.
Explain to me clearly about the meaning of your contention 2 about Semantics.

Roadmap: Attack NC, then, Defend AC.

First, my opponent start with a presumption that Negative has only a burden to prove any one sanction that had worked perfectly. This argument, does not meet the true definition of this debate. We are debating about the whole economic sanctions that has been imposed in this world. Furthermore, it gives an unfair burden for an affirmative to prove, and his argument does not meet the status quo of normal economic sanctions that has been imposed. Thus, my opponent is only partially debating about this resolution. Then, most importantly, he does not provide a specific example that actually did not harm any civilians. He does not specify or provide any of an example of it. If his examples were the sanctions that only banned single items, or prevented from creating a nuclear weapons, I will argue about these contentions as I move along.

Then, he clearly stated in definition that word 'ought' is to have a 'moral obligation.' Then, if the negative is arguing about only few of the sanctions that has been worked properlly, (34% only) he does not follow a moral obligation to argue about whole issues on this economic sanction. Then, my opponent has ignored all the 66% of the economic sanctions that has resulted to violation of moral obligation.

My opponent value was a 'Security.' First, he does not give a defintion of a security. Thus, we do not exactly know what kind of security are we talking about. For example, is it mental security, physical security, or etc. Thus, he does not have a warrant to back his value. Then second, how can we know we have achieved security throught economic sanction. U.S has imposed a sanction against all the terrorist group, yet throught Christmas-Day bombing, we still know that we are not fully secure. Then, third, he does not specify whose security we are discussing, then if we are discussing the security of nations that are expiriencing sanctions, I provided a warrant that they are not secure from crime, HIV, and illegal opium. Fourth, I have defined my value of 'human dignity' as having all human needs. Security is just one of the human needs. Thus, my value encompasses my opponent's value.

Moving on, my opponent criterion was a 'preservation of rights & security.' Once again, he does not provide a defintion for it thus he does not have a warrant to back up his criterion. Then, since he does not provide definition of it, we don't know what kinds of rights, and whose right we are discussing. Then if it was the right of person in nation which sanctions are imposed, they lost their human right due to lacking food, education, and housing availability. Third, to preserve a human right, it is essential to have an order in society. Thus, my criterion of promoting a social welfare comes before my opponent's criterion. Therefore, my criterion encompasses my opponent's.

Then, in his contention 1, he said, 'Economic sanctions are the last resort before going to war when all others have proven unsuccessful.' First, he does not provide any of the examples where non-econmic sanctions have proven unsuccessful. Then, even though my opponent provided, why can't we have an another peaceful talk, or diplomacy to solve an issue? Then, if it is an emergency, such as if one nation is threatening others to bomb a nuclear weapon, economic sanction is too slow or mild way to treat that nation. Thus, war is needed in this case.

My opponent also argued that when economic sanctions are imposed, only one items are denied. He, once again, does not provide a warrant or examples of this kinds of sanction. Then, furthermore, even if only one item is sanctioned, if that item is a food, or basic necessity, it will cause a chaos within that nation. Oil sanction on Japan caused War, food sanction on Cuba, caused starvation within Cuba, and food sanction on Burma also caused Chaos.

Then, he provided an example that Economic Sanction can successfully prevent nations from having nuclear weapon. However, that example was just theoratical. It did not have a warrant in real world. Then, to counter attack his argument, although economic sanctions were imposed on North Korea, Iran, and Pakisthan, they all have the nuclear weapon to terrorize the other nations. Thus, his contention falls.
Thus, all his argument about 'Smart Sanctions' does not exist in this real world.
C2 - see CX

Defend AC

The true meaning meaning of 'Dignity can't be quantified' means that Human dignity is immense. Then he argued that social welfare cannot measure Human Dignity. However, I have clearly showed a link between these criterion and my value. (Look all the impacts in my contentions and Criterion). Thus, there are no argument about measuring human dignity.

Then, he did not clearly argue about my contention of Geneva Protocol. Geneva Protocol is an international Treaty that all U.N nations have signed. Thus, all the nations in the world has an obligation to follow it. Then, also, my opponent does not clearly provide an example of not violating these issues. He never showed real world example. So, since we have moral obligation, and opponent actually never argued against it, you can extend my argument.

Moving on, my opponent once again said, Cuban sanction was not 'Smart'. However, this sanction also banned only one section of items, food, thus according to my opponent's definition, it must be the smart sanction. However, it still caused the chaos. Then, furthermore, my opponent never respond to my argument that Sanctions caused U.S to receive international blames and alienated its allies. Thus, you can extend my argument of receiving an international blames. Also, my opponent never argued about educational, housing, industrial, and etc detrimental effect on Cuba. So, voters can extend that.

Second, about my contention on Pearl Harbor, my opponent just said it is just 'unrealistic.' However, he did not provide reason behind it. Thus, his assertion can be just ignored. However, my argument of economic sanctino on Oil export to Japan catalyzed World War II still stands because he never argued about it. Also, this sanction also banned only one item, oil. Thus, this also was 'smart sanction' according to my opponent definition. Therefore, you can extend my whole second contention.

Third, for my contention of sanctions on Burma, opponent just said he will stipulate that economic sanction against Burma was ultimately unsuccessful. However, he does not provide reason, and explanation of his assertion. Thus, you can ignore his argument against my third contention. Then even though my opponent has provided reason, he did not argue against my evidence that shows direct link between increasing crime, HIV, and illegal opium rate. Thus, you can extend all of my third argument. Furthermore, my opponent never argued about U.S alienating its allies. Thus you can extend that argument.

In summary, from the beginning, my opponent's case was built on illogical belief that he has a burden to prove only one kind of sanctions does work. Then as I have proved, if he is debating on these issues, he is only partially agreeing with this resolution. Then, as I have proved, his value and criterion is encompassed my value and criterion, and all of his contentions as I have aruged falls. Then, looking at my case, I have successfully proved that my value and criterion stands firm, and my contentions then, I have successfully defended all of my contentions. Furthermore, voters can extend all of my argument about cuban detrimental effect on food, educational, and other availability, Sanctions on Japan catalyzed World War II, increasing HIV, crime, and illegal opium rate in Burma, and finally U.S allienating its allies. Thus, I urge voters to vote Affirmative.


NR interpreted, pun intended.

Wow, two words for the Affirmative, "Spell Check" that was incredibly painful to read!

I did not state that only one sanction had to work perfectly, I stated that I had to prove that a circumstance existed where economic sanctions ought to be used. The Affirmative has to prove that there is never a circumstance in which economic sanctions ought to be used. Therefore I am not arguing part of the resolution, I am arguing all of the resolution.

I do not have a responsibility to show that an economic resolution has to be successful, nor do I have to show that it can be done without harming civilians. I only have to demonstrate that a circumstance exists where economic sanctions ought to be used.

I have not ignored the 66% that were unsuccessful, in fact I provided the information. Further, 100% of the nations which imposed economic sanctions, felt that they were necessary, or that they "ought" to be used. Thus the resolution is negated.

Without attempting to drop the Affirmative's arguments, I extend the former. I conceded the lack of success of the three economic sanctions my opponent cited. However, they would not have imposed said sanctions if previous less restrictive measures had been successful. Since they were not successful, the next logical step before going to war was the placement of economic sanctions in hopes of achieving their intended foreign policy.

The Affirmative seems to prefer war over economic sanctions yet his value is human dignity with a criterion of social welfare. We will achieve our foreign policy by killing the people we disagree with and putting our own people in harm's way? I can not accept this as an acceptable policy, especially when the Affirmative wishes to encompass my VP/VC in with his, the Affirmative further implies that his VP/VC is morally sound than mine. I disagree.

I assume that there is no food to eat in Cuba because of the overwhelming success of the economic sanction imposed by the United States? Shocking, I could have sworn I saw some MLB baseball players, fully grown, with Cuba as their home of record. Wow!

If a nation has not signed the Geneva Accord, then they are not bound to obey it. Extended, a member nation may choose to disobey it even though they have signed it and accept a consequence.

Contention 2 merely plays semantics to win the debate from a different angle. There is a time and place for everything. Economic sanctions are something, therefore there is a time when they ought to be used.

My case has been defined and proven, my opponent has not shown us that economic sanctions ought not be used, he has shown us that they are largely unsuccessful, chaos can result from them, and that innocent people can get hurt or killed as a result of using them. Ironically, he endorses the jump straight to war where innocent people do get hurt and killed, and chaos results.

A country would not impose a sanction unless they felt it was warranted, therefore, there is a time and situation in which economic sanctions ought to be used. For these reasons I respectfully request a Negative ballot. Thank you!
Debate Round No. 2


leegood21 forfeited this round.


No such thing as a 2NR.
Debate Round No. 3
9 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Posted by Buster_Highman 8 years ago
Its actually not hard to read at all......
Posted by lovedebate 8 years ago
leegood21 dropped 2nr so i feel that twsurber has automatic win in this round, other reasons i voted for twsurber were that leegood21's argument was scattered and made no sence in terms of politics so good job twsurber and i look forward to debating both of you in the future!!!!!!!!!!!

lovedebate, over and out!!!!!!!
Posted by Ore_Ele 8 years ago
A screw driver can too pound in nails, though it will take much longer and much more effort then a hammer, and probably have worse results.
Posted by Metz 8 years ago
Even the best tool can be used incorrectly. A screwdriver cant pound in nails, but sometimes you need one to screw in screws.
Posted by Cherymenthol 8 years ago
You impact through standards...
Posted by leegood21 8 years ago
no i am saying that all sanctions are bad
Posted by Nails 8 years ago
Is the aff only arguing that we should remove 3 specific sanctions?
Posted by wjmelements 8 years ago
Posted by rougeagent21 8 years ago
Too many rounds. I would take this if it were three rounds.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Demauscian 8 years ago
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Vote Placed by twsurber 8 years ago
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