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Why Economic Sanctions Still Do Not Work
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Do Not Work 1 I appreciate the opportunity to comment on Kimberly Ann Elliott’s response to my article “Why Economic Sanctions Do Not Work.”’ I briefly restate the main findings of my original article and summarize Elliott’s criticism of my work. I then show why Elliott’s charges are not valid and why my conclusion-that there is little empirical support that economic sanctions can achieve ambitious foreign policy goals-still stands. A simple question lies at the heart of the disagreement between Elliott and me: How robust is the evidence that economicsanctions work? Since 1985the most influentialwork on this question has been Economic Sanctions Reconsidered by Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Jeffrey Schott, and Kimberly Ann Elliott (hereafter HSE).2Reviewing the universe of sanctions from 1914to 1990,HSE found that sanctionssucceeded in 40 of 115cases, or 34 percent of the total. This important study provided the empirical support for a significant shift in the scholarly consensus on the effectiveness of sanctions from marked pessimism in the 1960s and 1970sto qualified optimism in the 1980sand 1990s. My article “Why Economic SanctionsDo Not Work challenges the validity of HSE. I examined the 40 claimed successes and found that only 5 stand up. Eighteen were actually settled by either direct or indirect use of force; in 8 cases there is no evidence that the target state made the demanded concessions ; 6 do not qualify as instances of economic sanctions; and 3 are indeterminate . If I am right, then sanctions have succeeded in only 5 of 115attempts, and thus there is no sound basis for even qualified optimism about the effects of sanctions. Robert A. Pape is Assistant Professor of Government at Dartmouth College I thank RandallClark, Chaim Kaufmann, MichaelMastanduno, JohnMearsheimer,BradleyThayer, and Dennis Zacharopoulos for their thoughtful comments, and Patsy Carter and Stelios Zachariou for their timely research assistance. I would also like to thank the Earhart Foundation and the Smith Richardson Foundation for supporting this research. 1. Robert A. Pape, “Why Economic Sanctions Do Not Work,” International Security, Vol. 22, No. 2 (Fall 1997),pp. 9G136. 2. Gary Clyde Hufbauer, JeffreyJ. Schott, and Kimberly Ann Elliott, Economic Sanctions Reconsidered , 2d rev. ed., 2 vols. (Washington,D.C.: Institute for International Economics, 1990). International Security, Vol. 23, No. 1 (Summer 1998), pp. 66-77 01998 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 66 Why Economic Sanctions Still Do Not Work 1 67 Elliott makes four charges against my work in her re~ponse.~ First, she says that I wrongly characterize HSEs position on the optimism-pessimism spectrum , and so I criticize a wildly optimistic straw man that does not in fact exist. Second, she claims that HSE and I ask differentquestions and employ different research designs and that these conceptual differences, not substance, account for most of the discrepancy in our results. Third, she claims that expropriation disputes, which I do not credit as instances of economic sanctions, should be counted. Fourth, in a short appendix, she disputes my interpretation of the facts in seven cases. Calling an Optimist an Optimist Elliott’s claim that I paint HSE as wild-eyed optimists, while their actual position “is not terribly different” from mine (p. 50), is not true. My article describes their position as one of qualified optimism. My overall assessment of their views reads: ”Proponents of the new conventional wisdom are aware that sanctions have limits and do not always work, but, by and large, they believe that sanctions are often an efficientinstrument for achieving important political goals.”4 Furthermore, my assessment of HSEs views is justified. Optimism and pessimism are relative concepts; whether one should be considered optimistic about a certain policy instrument depends in part on how one’sviews compare with the judgments of others. Compared to sanctions scholars of the 1960sand 1970s and to me, HSE are optimistic about the utility of sanctions, and the difference here is wide, not trivial. A policy tool that has succeeded in 40 of 115attempts must be considered a moderately robust arrow in a policymaker’s quiver. On the other hand, if sanctions have succeeded in only 5 of 115 attempts, as I claim, then they...