Economic Sanctions and the Diplomacy of Intervention

This course provides an introduction to the use of economic sanctions as an instrument for intervention in international affairs. We start out by covering major theories in the study of international relations, with an emphasis on how they help us understand economic coercion. These theories include realism, liberalism, linkage politics, constructivism and game theory. We proceed to introduce a theory of economic coercion. The main question of interest is: do sanctions work? We will review statistical studies of the effectiveness of sanctions, and we will hear what the critics have said. To resolve the controversy, we look at two sets of illustrations of how sanctions are used, and what they achieve. One is their track record in destabilizing the government leaders they target. The other is their ability to bring democracy to foreign countries. By the end of the course, all students can expect to be able to ask and answer in a defensible way questions such as: (1) Were sanctions against Iraq right or was the use of force preferable? (2) Did apartheid in South Africa end because of, or in spite of international economic sanctions? (3) Is more sanctions or more cooperation the right policy against North Korea? We will discuss the ethical and practical questions that arise when choosing to use sanctions, and the merits of alternative policies such as doing nothing or applying military force.

This is a novel course on a subject that is of great practical interest, and one we know surprisingly little about. Student participation in lectures is expected, as is familiarity with the readings. Attendance is critical because the lectures will be structured to build on, and not just restate, the readings. A copy of the reader will be available for purchase on the first day of class. Many readings will be available online. One book is required and can be ordered from online sellers:

David Baldwin. Economic Statecraft. Princeton University, Princeton, 1985