Taking Sanctions into the Twenty-First Century
M. Diana Helweg
Today's global economy has rendered the U.S. current sanctions policy largely ineffective by making it more difficult to isolate targeted nations. 1 The near extinction of communism has also eliminated the Cold War paradigm--a primary justification for sanctions--that dominated U.S. foreign policy after World War II. These changing dynamics have uprooted the international architecture that enabled sanctions to be a frequently used U.S. foreign policy tool over the past quarter century. Unfortunately, sanctions are still continually imposed, creating significant problems for a next generation foreign policy. The continuing U.S. preference for sanctions despite changed circumstances has, in fact, undermined and further weakened sanctions by leading to their overuse and, consequently, misuse on nonsecurity issues.
Despite the inefficacy of sanctions in recent times, the United States should not do away with the tool. Instead, it should reform