Crazy Pills

A better stick for our carrot by fluffly
February 18, 2009, 12:59 pm
Filed under: fluffly, Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

Secretary of State Clinton (it feels good typing that) said that we may have to revisit our approach to Burma.  Apparently,

“…the path we have taken in imposing sanctions hasn’t influenced the Burmese junta,” [Clinton] said, adding that the route taken by Burma’s neighbors of “reaching out and trying to engage them has not influenced them either.”

So, my question is, how useful of a ‘stick’ are sanctions?  Not to make the argument that sanctions in every instance act the same or are intended to have the same effect on the recieiving country, but the sanctions against Burma have not changed the policies of the junta, the sanctions against Cuba and Iraq only denied the people food or medicine while benefitting the black markets and government officials in on the smuggling, Hamas is still in power in Gaza, and while it is too early to really tell with Iran, they appear not to have retarded their quest for nuclear weapons.  Nor have they helped us conjure up the stolen data tapes, or given us clairvoyance enough to find the rebels’ hidden fortress.

I’m sure that there are examples of sanctions regimes that have been successful, but I just can’t think of them right now (Stanley, I’m looking at you to correct me).  But in light of Clinton’s statement, it is clear that in some instances, sanctions just don’t do much.  Their appeal is strong.  In the face of such terrible goverments, the idea of trading with them and thus helping to continue their existence is a nonstarter.  So what are our options?  Thoughts?

There have been some suggestions, specifically in Gaza, of maintaining the sanctions against the Hamas government, but working with NGOs or other groups and countries to bring aid in directly to the people, thus cutting the government out of the equation, avoiding corruption, and hopefully undercutting them.  In Burma, the ICG has  said that “bans on Burmese garments, agriculture and fishery products and restrictions on tourism should be lifted.”  This would have the benefit of allowing the people to get back to work and hopefully stem a humanitarian crisis.  But how do we balance a desire to punish malicious governments, while seeking to avoid punishing their people?