The Instigator
Pro (for)
3 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 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: 1/28/2010 Category: Politics
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,270 times Debate No: 10999
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (2)
Votes (1)




Intro: I affirm the resolution. Economic sanctions have repeatedly been shown as an inefficient and worse inhumane method of accomplishing diplomatic goals. For the purposes of this debate, my value is the efficiency and benevolence of any purported action in the area of foreign policy. The criterion for determining the best possible action will be both the ability of any specific course of action to accomplish stated objectives in addition to the total happiness and prosperity produced in the outcome. Through this case, I will show how economic sanctions are a thoroughly unfavorable method and how there are many better possibilities.

Definitions: To begin my case, I must define certain terms. First off, ‘economic sanctions' are define as "government mandated limitations and domestic penalties applied by one or more countries on customary trade or financial relations among nations." Secondly, ‘achieve' is defined as "to bring to a successful end". Because the successful achievement of an objective is only possible through an efficient strategy and economic sanctions are not as such, the resolution must be affirmed.

C1. Although the purpose of any purported diplomatic action is to achieve certain objectives, economic sanctions fail miserably at this criterion.
S1. Because of the callousness of sanctions, millions of those affected have suffered greatly. Joy Gordon says:
"As Walzer notes, siege is the oldest form of war waged against both soldiers and civilians. In siege, noncombatants are not only exposed, but in fact are more likely to be killed than combatants, given that the goal of siege "is surrender, not by defeat of the enemy army, but by the fearful spectacle of the civilian dead." Thus, siege warfare has the quality of actually inverting the principle of discrimination. Siege operates by restricting the economy of the entire community, creating shortages of food, water, and fuel. Those who are least able to survive the ensuing hunger, illness, and cold are the very young, the elderly, and those who are sick or injured. Thus the direct consequence of siege is that harm is done to those who are least able to defend themselves, who present the least military threat, who have the least input into policy or military decisions, and who are most vulnerable to hunger, cold, and illness." These sanctions, which support the suffering of the young and the elderly, are indefensible and thus obviously to be thrown out.
S2. As history has shown multitudes of times, inhabitants of a country have an innate tendency to group closer in a nationalistic sense when threatened. Joy Gordon says:
"The most extensive study of sanctions episodes in this century estimates that sanctions are "a factor" in achieving the target state's compliance about one-third of the time. But even this figure has been challenged as far too optimistic. The typical response of a people in the face of sanctions is in fact to "rally 'round the flag," and support the leadership in the face of foreign coercion. That response has characterized sanctions situations from Italian support for Mussolini in the face of the League of Nations' boycott and Serbian support of Slobodan Milosevic, to the U.S. response to the Arab oil boycott of the 1970s."
As you can see, the only effect of applying sanctions will have the opposite effect than intended: the people, rather than taking down the opposing regime or leader, will only more forcefully support them, thus making our efforts worse than useless.

C2. Because of the utter inefficiency of and harm done by economic sanctions, they ought not be used for the accomplishment of most if not all foreign policy objectives, thus affirming the resolution.
S1. In terms of the resolution, it is asked if economic sanctions "ought" to be used to accomplish a certain action. The word "ought," in addition to the oft-used meaning relating to morality, can also be put forward the concept that if an object or ideal is unable to or less efficient at accomplishing a particular objectives For example, one would not use a handsaw in order to cut down a tree; one would use a chainsaw. In addition, one would use a flashlight to light up a dark room, and not a fish. Similarly, the term "ought" is based on the efficiency of any particular action; if one purported action is more cost-effective than another, it "ought" to be used, thus fulfilling the resolution. In addition, the negative must show how economic sanctions are better and thus must be used as opposed to any possible alternate course of action. As the negative cannot possibly supply every possible scenario's cons, it is limited only to the defending of the one indefensible position of sanctions.

C3. As the resolution is specifically searching for a viable method of achieving diplomatic objectives, any action that is in itself more efficient than economic sanctions should be used, thus negating the resolution.
S1. The primary issue with the use of sanctions is their indiscriminate nature in the area of unintentional suffering directed at those least able to afford it. However, as a better alternative to the general, malevolent sanctions mentioned in the resolution, better "smart sanctions" exist which, although they may seem similar to the topic being debated, in reality have very little relation to the former. William H. Kaempfer says:
"In the same way, if sufficient intelligence existed on the sources of wealth of specific politically important individuals in a target nation, measures could be carefully aimed to reduce that wealth. Such sanctions are commonly referred to as "smart sanctions." The individuals singled out by smart sanctions could be either major political operatives behind the objectionable policy or their key supporters. In either event, the role of smart sanctions is to identify those responsible and to increase the cost to them of engaging in that behavior found to be objectionable in the sanctioning countries. An example would be the freezing of assets owned abroad by members of the target elite, of which more below.
S2. Secondly, there is always the chance that diplomatic talks will produce fruit. This is especially the case if there are independent warring factions in the sanctioned country; in this situation, the US could offer aid to a faction which holds shared goals in order to jointly take down the present administration. In addition, direct talks with the leaders of the opposing government could have a good chance of being fruitful. For example, talks with North Korea in 2004, at least until the advent of its failed satellite attempt in 2009, offered a great opportunity to achieve normal relations and so freeze its nuclear weapons production.
S3. A final possible route to take, in the extremely unlikely event of all others mentioned failing, would be, although somewhat more objectionable than mentioned before, a militaristic act of diplomacy. In essence, the threat of military invasion is used as a bargaining chip against a regime that would otherwise ignore any efforts to bring it down. Even if primary threats did not always work, the follow through would always be likely; however, the primary target of any such venture would be the elite ruler who the army is being mobilized against. Any obstructionist civilians could be dealt with infinitely more gently than they would otherwise in an economic sanction scenario. The effort would, in effect, a humanitarian war. The only objective would be to remove the opposition quickly and lethally, thus making a quick and successful strike against the heart of the opposition as well as minimizing collateral damage and so winning the minds of the oppressed citizens, as well as other prominent nations.

Due to the evidence presented, there is no possible rational choice but to affirm the resolution.


cross examination:
how would you define diplomatic goals?
clarify your premise and criteris in short?
define diplomatic action:
define the term seige in short:
are you trying to say that you think sanctions are pretty much going into a country and killing everyone?
how are people effected by sanctions?
please source your definition of ought:

i will present my negative constructive when my opponent responds to the cross-ex.
Debate Round No. 1


Thanking my opponent for joining me in this debate, I will continue in the cross-examination.

"how would you define diplomatic goals?"

Diplomatic goals are, put simply, the aim in question of a purported system of action. For example, the wish for an establishment of closer relations with China could be referred to as a "diplomatic goal." Likewise, the wish for control over a particular country's actions, such as military actions, is also such a goal; albeit one too often wrongly solved with the imposition of sanctions.

"clarify your premise and criteris in short?"

I apologize if I was not succinct in my opening. In short, I value a.) how well a policy achieves what it sets out to do
and b.) how many people are positively/negatively affected through this. My premise is to show how sanctions fit neither of these criteria.

"define diplomatic action:"

I do not completely understand the need for such definitions as "diplomatic action" or "diplomatic" goals"; however, I will comply. A diplomatic action can be either be depicted as a political move to achieve a diplomatic goal or, as I explained in my case, one such that focuses entirely on peaceful methods based on diplomacy to achieve goals, one that I have showed to be superior to sanctions in certain cases.

"define the term siege in short:"

Siege: a blockade, whether militaristic or economical, of a city or fortified place to compel. it to surrender. Though sanctions are not a literal "siege" with the accompaniment of catapults, they have much of the same and, may I add, desired, effect on the inhabitants of the targeted nation.

"are you trying to say that you think sanctions are pretty much going into a country and killing everyone?"

I understand the interpretation behind this claim; however, I have not given it support in my case. I simply said that sanctions can cause immense damages to innocents, a fact that is undeniably undesirable in most any situation. Sanctions are not genocidal in nature; however, they have immense destructive potential that is often applied- noting more, nothing less.

"how are people effected by sanctions?"

I believe I have already mentioned this, so I will simply refer my opponent to a further read-through of my case. However, if necessary, I will supply further information. Joseph Galvin, using the case of Panama, says "The indiscriminate distribution of the economic costs of sanctions is another factor that limits their effectiveness. In target countries any economic costs inflicted may fall on the elements of the population that the sanctions are designed to support; that is the case in South Africa where diminished U.S. business presence brings hardships and loss of economic opportunity to former black employees and other blacks who benefited from programs sponsored by those companies. U.S. sanctions reportedly have severely damaged the economic welfare of Panamanians, and there are some reports that the resulting economic hardships are turning Panamanians against the United States, even though popular support for Noriega apparently remains low."

"please source your definition of ought:"

Though I have paraphrased, the original source can be seen at

I thank my opponent for asking intelligent questions and await the response.


lovedebate forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


It's a shame that my opponent forfeited. Perhaps next round?


hey, sorry about that forfeit, my computer broke, any how lets get on with the debate, i will attack my opponents case while building my own, thank you.

in the cross examination i ask how the citizezens will suffer, my opponent says that he has previously clarified this point, however my opponent only says that the people will suffer , not how , so he shows no proof to the matter.
next, my opponent says that economic sanctions are in humane but as you will see later in my argument the point of economic sanctions is to protect as many people possible or cause the least amount of harm.
i do not understand how efficiency is in any way revelant to this case , but if it were i would say that it fit the negative side better than the affirmative , due to the fact that the reason for sanctions is to punish for a crime commited against another nation, and economic sanctions appear to be the most efficient way to handle such a situation.
in order to achieve "happiness and prosperity " we must first ensure that justice is administered in the approprriate fashion, to help ensure that there is less crime in the world.
using my opponents definition of economic sanctions i will now explain my case and continue to attack my opponents.
my value premise is responsibility, and my criteria is that it is the responsibility of nations to keep others in check when it comes to matters such as terrorism and/or war.
my opponent discusses seige and i asked him to clarify what he meant by seige in the cross ex, here is my question, and his answer: ""define the term siege in short:"
Siege: a blockade, whether militaristic or economical, of a city or fortified place to compel. it to surrender. Though sanctions are not a literal "siege" with the accompaniment of catapults, they have much of the same and, may I add, desired, effect on the inhabitants of the targeted nation."
however even using my opponents definition of sanctions, this definition describes only certain limitations on another country there for making his answer to my question invalid because seige would be unnessecary.
my opponents contention two is also invalid because as i said above when only certain materials are being limited there is no reason for the people to suffer.
my opponent says that any other action would be more effective than sanctions however he never proves that they have been ineffective in any way and never shows any alternate methods
for the reasons listed above i ask you to vote neg . thank you
Debate Round No. 3


jetbey forfeited this round.


though my opponent forfeited i will still allow cross examination if he so desires to post it!!
Debate Round No. 4


jetbey forfeited this round.


hey guys, im back, it is a real shame that my opponent forfeited last round, so i guess i just present conclusion and voter issues.
in conclusion i feel that i have proven economic sanctions to be good thing i have shown that the point of sanctions is infact to help, not hurt people.
voter issues, i have not but one voter issue and that is that my opponent didnt present enough of his case o really argue, however i am sure that he like me forfeited for a good reason. any way, please vote neg! thanks
Debate Round No. 5
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by lovedebate 8 years ago
hey, thanks for accepting this debate with me, it was fun!!!
Posted by lovedebate 8 years ago
if any one has any questions about my case , please post it in the comments and i will answer asap!!!
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Domino 8 years ago
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Total points awarded:30