March 30, 2019

Why Trump’s sanctions aren’t working

By David Cohen

On March 22, President Trump tweeted that he ordered the “withdrawal” of North Korea sanctions. It is still unclear whether he pulled back an upcoming package of North Korea sanctions or ones that had been announced just the day before. And although the president didn’t explain his reasoning, Sarah Sanders offered that he canceled the sanctions because “President Trump likes Chairman Kim, and . . . doesn’t think these sanctions will be necessary.”

This policy-swerve-by-tweet reflects a chaotic national security process. But it also lays bare a broader problem with the Trump administration’s overall approach to sanctions: Despite their extensive use against North Korea, Iran, Russia and Venezuela, sanctions are not working particularly well to solve any of these national security challenges.

The problem is not a lack of effort by the Treasury Department, which has been churning out innovative sanctions at a breakneck pace. But sanctions are not an elixir that, through extensive application, magically achieve desired foreign policy outcomes.

Read the full article in The Washington Post.

  • Podcast
    • August 2, 2022
    The Cost of Economic War

    Sanctions, not bombs, have been the weapon chosen to take on the Putin regime. BBC speaks with macroeconomist Rachel Ziemba about the effectiveness of modern economic statecra...

    By Rachel Ziemba

  • Podcast
    • March 15, 2022
    What would happen if Russia defaults on its debt?

    Adjunct senior fellow Elina Ribakova speaks to Marketplace about how Russia's economic isolationism may largely insulate global markets should Russia default on its debts. Li...

    By Elina Ribakova

  • Podcast
    • March 3, 2022
    Sanctions and Export Controls Explained: What's going on with Russia

    The United States and its allies have released an unprecedented and sweeping set of sanctions and export controls in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. This includes bl...

    By Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Richard Fontaine, Edward Fishman, Elina Ribakova & Emily Kilcrease

  • Reports
    • January 14, 2021
    Sanctions by the Numbers: 2020 Year in Review

    Sanctions designations remained high in 2020, with 777 designations compared to 785 in 2019....

    By Sam Dorshimer & ​Francis Shin

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia