Washington’s Never-Ending Love Affair with Sanctions

Washington’s Never-Ending Love Affair with Sanctions

One of the more puzzling features of the U.S. approach to world affairs is how officials persist in their enthusiasm for economic sanctions as a worthwhile policy tool despite massive evidence regarding their futility. More than three decades ago, Gary Hufbauer, Jeffrey J. Schott, and Kimberly Ann Elliot debunked the notion that sanctions were effective in their seminal book, Economic Sanctions Reconsidered.  Subsequent historical scholarship and contemporary studies by other experts have largely confirmed that conclusion. Sanctions have a nearly unique quality of being simultaneously both...

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On Korea, Joe Biden Is Choosing Every Bad Option

On Korea, Joe Biden Is Choosing Every Bad Option

Joe Biden has managed to embrace nearly all of the worst, most dangerous options with respect to U.S. policy on the Korean Peninsula. Washington’s policy toward North Korea is utterly sterile and ineffective. The glimpses of hope during Donald Trump’s administration that the United States might adopt a fresh approach instead of clinging to its longstanding, unattainable demand that North Korea abandon its nuclear weapons program have vanished. Biden abandoned even Trump’s modest policy deviations. Instead, his administration has resumed the insistence on Pyongyang’s complete...

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Samantha Power, High Priestess of Insidious Authoritarianism

Samantha Power, High Priestess of Insidious Authoritarianism

Most people who remember Samantha Power know her either as a pro-war propagandist masquerading as a journalist in Bosnia or as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s loyal servant in helping to orchestrate the Obama administration’s disastrous military interventions in Libya and Syria. However, she now has an important policy perch in Joe Biden’s administration from which to promote and implement a new round of destructive policies. As the head of the U.S. Agency for International Development, she has a multi-billion-dollar slush fund with which to bribe foreign governments and subsidize...

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Washington’s Dangerous Ukraine Entanglement

Dangerous tensions between Russia and Ukraine are spiking again.  The latest catalyst was a November 25 clash between Russian and Ukrainian warships in the Kerch Strait, which connects the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov.  That narrow strait separates Russia’s Taman Peninsula from Crimea.  Despite Moscow’s annexation of the latter in 2014, Kiev still considers Crimea to be Ukrainian territory, a position that the United States and its allies back emphatically.  Moreover, passage through the strait is the only maritime link between Ukraine’s Black Sea ports and those on the Azov.  Kiev views the...

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Due Process Is Fading Away. Thank the National Security State

Due Process Is Fading Away. Thank the National Security State

Equating mere allegations of misconduct with definitive evidence is a growing habit in the United States. That tendency is most prevalent regarding national security matters, and the trend has been building since the onset of the so-called war on terror following the 9-11 attacks. Conservatives are especially prone to assert that “terrorists” are not entitled to constitutional rights, even if they are American citizens. The obvious problem with that argument is that until a fair and impartial trial is held, the individuals in question are merely accused terrorists. The whole point of due...

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Cynical Hawks Exploit North Korea Crisis to Torpedo Iran Agreement

Cynical Hawks Exploit North Korea Crisis to Torpedo Iran Agreement

Donald Trump’s speech to the UN General Assembly underscored his intention to adopt highly confrontational policies toward both North Korea and Iran. He threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea in the event of war and re-emphasized Washington’s long-standing determination to compel Pyongyang to renounce its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. The president scorned Iran as “an economically depleted rogue state” and described the current multilateral nuclear agreement with Tehran as “an embarrassment” to the United States. If Trump is not merely engaging in bombast, Washington appears...

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John McCain: America’s Foreign Policy Loose Cannon

President Trump’s testy telephone conversation with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnball quickly produced a reaction from one ubiquitous U.S. player on foreign policy issues, Arizona Senator John McCain. He contacted Australia’s ambassador in Washington to assure him of Washington’s undying devotion to the U.S. alliance with Australia and to that country’s security and well-being. The implicit message was that Canberra should not take Trump or his actions seriously. In so doing, McCain basically anointed himself as America’s shadow president, with the right and obligation to bypass the...

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