Thursday, September 8, 2011

When Sanctioning a Dictator

The international communities favorite weapon against the worlds most detestable regimes is the economic sanction. This usually takes the form of restricting oil imports from a Middle Eastern countries like Syria and Iraq throughout the West. But who are we really punishing when we pursue a regime of sanctions against a country?

Most would argue the dictator, but we can’t really say that because the dictator doesn’t face electoral sanction and likely doesn’t give a damn if his people starve in the streets…see Kim Jon Il in North Korea. Indeed, Saddam Hussein was able to survive sanctions for decades before he was deposed in the Second Iraq War. Sanctions are often felt most acutely by the masses whom the international community least wants to hurt, by making life even less bearable.

The international community relies too much on sanctions in trying to moderate a dictators behavior. I say this because if the dictator has the power, then he has most of what he wants anyway. The sanctions deprive the already desolate of important things and you’ve allowed the dictator to secure propaganda points by declaring that the Western imperialists are the cause of all the peoples problems. In the minority of societies were the information is one sided, these very rhetorically charged arguments can hold sway to a population that has been largely kept ignorant by their dictator father figure.

What is the answer beyond sanctions and blowing the dictator out of the sky? I wish I knew, but the blanket application of sanctions hasn’t proven as useful as hoped.

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