What are your views on the effectiveness of the economic sanctions imposed on Iraq?Canada participated in these sanctions. Were they an effective foreign policy tool? Please explain your response....

What are your views on the effectiveness of the economic sanctions imposed on Iraq?

Canada participated in these sanctions. Were they an effective foreign policy tool? Please explain your response. Thank you very much!

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brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I tend to believe that economic sanctions are, for the most part, ineffective.  They tend to hurt the ordinary population much more than they hurt the government we are trying to pressure, and then that same government, usually a dictatorship like Castro's or Hussein's, can demonize the US for the sanctions and blame all of the nation's ills on us.  This helps them rally public support and enables them to stay in power.

Cuba and North Korea have done without American trade for decades, with no visible effect except the hunger and poverty of the peoples there.  In Iraq, the sanctions did weaken the Iraqi military, which was outfitted with many American weapons, and certainly this was to our benefit.  It also weakened the economy, and prevented critical supplies from reaching civilians.  Some estimates have suggested that up to 400,000 civilians died during the sanctions, though that number is almost impossible to verify.

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I feel conflicted on this issue.  In general, I think that sanctions can be an effective way to raise the brow of the international community in the perception of a particular nation.  Sanctions are a way to stand opposed to a particular nation's policy or stance through the use of economic power or international shame.  On one level, I understand and "get" this.  Where I have trouble with this is where economic sanctions go after the people of a nation and not the leadership of it.  Sanctions invariably hurt the people, the innocents, of a nation's behavior.  The government is already well insulated against the harsh nature of sanctions.  It's the people who end up suffering, causing and embedding more resentment towards the nation imposing the sanctions.  This does not only seem more unfair to me, it can be considered to be more harmful to international relations.