September 08, 2017

When Is It Time to End Sanctions Programs?

At the end of August, U.S. officials imposed new sanctions on Venezuela following the government’s crackdown on both the opposition and the country’s democratic institutions. The measures marked the fourth major expansion in U.S. sanctions programs this summer. (The others were against IranNorth Korea, and Russia.) With each set addressing different security threats, sanctions have been dubbed the “Swiss army knife of U.S. foreign policy” by the scholar Robert Kahn. Yet at a time when Washington has so many such programs in place, determining how best to wind down sanctions is perhaps more important than discussing when and how to impose them. If U.S. leaders want to use sanctions to change their targets’ policies, they need to plan for their eventual removal. Otherwise, Washington will lose credibility during negotiations and limit the mechanism’s effectiveness.

Read the full op-ed in Foreign Affairs.

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