The Skeptics

Inside Washington's Soft-Power Sanctions War

Even more so in a country like North Korea. Members of the nomenklatura may share Kim Jong-un’s nationalist objectives and are at least partially shielded from the cost of sanctions due to their privileged status. They do not live and invest abroad. Sanctions still might put a crimp in the elite’s access to luxury goods, creating unhappiness, but much more would be required to foster an effective challenge to the Supreme Leader, who has been known to dispatch disloyal officials with brutal efficiency.

Washington’s promiscuous bullying is increasingly resented by friend and foe alike. In attempting to coerce Europe as well as Russia, the United States might find itself at economic war with Brussels as well as Moscow. And even if the Europeans acquiesce, the Putin government almost certainly will continue to defy the U.S. government, leaving Americans and Russians to suffer alike.

Washington should step back. Sanctions can be a useful foreign-policy tool, but not when used promiscuously, and especially when important U.S. interests are not at stake. America should stop attempting to play global dominatrix. Ultimately, this nation would be safer and more secure if its government was no longer constantly at war, economic as well as military, around the world.

Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and a former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan.

Image: U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (L) and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster address sanctions on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro during the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., July 31, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst​