Insight: Is the US risking overuse of sanctions?

As the US government increasingly turns to energy-sector sanctions — or the threat of them — as a foreign policy tool, some have started to question whether the strategy carries long-term risks. Iran and Russia, the chief targets of US sanctions at the moment, would like the world to believe that the US is addicted to sanctions. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted last month that the US needs to “rehabilitate its addiction to sanctions.” A few days later, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that US over-reliance on sanctions would eventually undermine the dollar as the global settlement currency. The statements are obviously self-serving, as both countries are staring down major new US sanctions. But as the US reaches over and over again for this foreign policy tool — and President Donald Trump flexes “maximum economic pressure” against countries he wants to behave differently — should policy makers pause to consider the long-term implications of overusing sanctions? “Sanctions are a tool of the strong,” said Daniel Fried, a former national security adviser to Presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush who served as ambassador to Poland and assistant secretary of state for Europe. “In the long run — I’m… continue reading

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