The Overall Effectiveness of Economic Sanctions in Achieving Positive Political Reforms

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My most recent Quora question:
How Effective are Economic Sanctions in achieving their primary goals?
View on Quora at:

Economic Sanctions are often criticized for being ineffective. Some examples include: Cuba, North Korea, China, Iraq, Burma (Myanmar).
However, there are examples in which sanctions have led to a positive change (such as South Africa, Serbia). However, the sanctions took a long time to have any significant effect, and any positive change can also be attributed to other forces in a nation’s politics (such as in the case of South Africa, where internal forces led to change much more than any sanctions imposed by foreign governments).
It seems to me, that for sanctions to work effectively, a nation must have a large dynamic economy that involves a large amount of trade with the nations imposing the sanctions. Additionally, the more social and political freedoms that a nation’s citizens have seems to be among the main factors in the overall effectiveness of sanctions (for example, Cubans living under the Castro regimme had and continue to have little social and political freedoms, leaving the government to almost exclusively determine its own ecomonic policies). Furthermore, I would argue that soft power plays a highly significant role in policies (such as economic sanctions).

A list of economic sanctions imposed by the United States against other nations is available at the US Treasury Dept. website at:
A list of sanctions imposed by the UN and/or US is available at the Peterson Institute for International Economics website at:


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