Unilateral Sanctions Undermine U.S. Interests

By Barfield, Claude E.; Groombridge, Mark A. | The World and I, December 1998 | Go to article overview

Unilateral Sanctions Undermine U.S. Interests


Barfield, Claude E., Groombridge, Mark A., The World and I


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mine the gravity of the alleged infraction of international law and the nature, duration, and effectiveness of potential responses.

A number of suggestions for regaining control of the policy process with regard to imposing economic sanctions have been made over the past year. The first piece of legislation that has received significant support is the "Sanctions Policy Reform Act," authored by Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Indiana) and cosponsored in the House by Reps. Philip Crane (R-Illinois) and Lee Hamilton (D-Indiana). The bill gained great impetus as a result of the rigidity of the sanctions mandated against India and Pakistan in the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Act of 1994. This bill establishes a set of guidelines for future prospective sanctions.

First, it provides that such sanctions must be narrowly targeted and must include presidential waiver authorities. Second, it requires Congress to do a detailed cost-benefit analysis of the proposed sanctions before a sanction is invoked, including an assessment of how likely the sanctions will achieve stated goals and a judgment on whether the foreign policy goals outweigh expected economic and diplomatic costs.

Finally, the bill includes a sunset provision that would automatically terminate unilateral sanctions unless Congress voted to extend them. Passage of this bill would allow for a more orderly system for imposing sanctions and allow the president to gain control of the process. …

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