February was a typically busy month for U.S. officials who announce government sanctions.
One package of measures issued by the Treasury Department targeted North Korea, with dozens of ships, companies and other entities cited for shipping coal and fuel to the country in violation of previous sanctions.
Before the month was over, sanctions had also been slapped on Colombian drug traffickers, smugglers of Libyan oil and individuals accused of sex abuse and recruiting child soldiers in Congo.
More sanctions rained down on abettors of various terrorist groups in Pakistan, Somalia and the Philippines, plus Hezbollah in Lebanon. And the State Department added to its list of designated terrorist groups organizations in the Philippines, West Africa, Bangladesh and Burkina Faso.
Most months nowadays, the United States issues a similar barrage of sanctions, as the Trump administration pursues an aggressive strategy of using economic tools instead of military might against foes.
The sanctions that attract the most attention have been aimed at governments threatening U.S. national security interests, including North Korea, Iran and Russia. But increasingly, sanctions are being used to counter other kinds of destabilizing behavior.
Sanctions have been around since the earliest years of the United States, but they have been used more frequently since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. They are seen as a potent tool to cut off terrorists and their financiers from access to the international financial system, as well as a way to crack down on human rights abuses and corrupt leaders.
But the reliance on them has led to concerns that they are being overused as the foreign policy of first resort, hurting U.S. credibility among allies who complain that they are being forced to bow to U.S. policies and potentially undercutting the U.S. dollar.
Read the Full Article at The Washington Post