Economic Sanctions: A Failing Instrument of United States Foreign Policy

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Economic sanctions have been used in the conduct of foreign affairs for centuries. This paper will examine the value and utility of sanctions as art instrument of United States foreign policy in the post-Cold War era. More specifically, it will take a look at the success of economic sanctions as a means of achieving U.S. foreign policy objectives. The paper will focus on the economic embargo imposed against Saddam Hussein's Iraq in response to its invasion of Kuwait on 2 August 1990. It will discuss the chronological sequence of events of the Persian Gulf crisis and how President Bush's strategy evolved- moving from deterrence to sanctions-first to coalition conventional war and back to sanctions. Most importantly, the paper will show how the outcome of the sanctions episode with Saddam Hussein fits in with the trend of other economic sanctions cases in recent history. The paper will conclude with a few observations and recommendations for future policymakers to consider before using sanctions to resolve complex foreign policy problems.

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