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Assessment of the Effectiveness of Economic Sanctions: The Cases of Iran, North Korea, Myanmar, and Cuba

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Technical Report

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Naval Postgraduate School Monterey United States

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This study investigates what factors influence the effectiveness of economic sanctions in changing behavior of targeted states. U.S. and UN leaders often turn to economic sanctions rather than military force to achieve international political objectives, believing that sanctions are as effective as, and more humane than, military force. Yet, history has shown the sanctions are often ineffective in altering target states agendas. This thesis explores the use of sanctions levied against Iran and North Korea, and examines their efficacy in preventing further nuclear proliferation by these two states. These case studies suggest the structure and type of sanctions have limited success driving behavior changes in target states. Other factorssuch as the target states motivation in pursuing a particular policy and features of their political systems, the sanctioning states ability to punish targeted states non-compliance, and the role of third-party spoilers, also known as black knightsplay a large part in determining the value and outcome of economic sanctions. These findings are supported with a brief examination of attempts to promote democratic reforms in Myanmar and Cuba. The thesis concludes with policy implications.

Subject Categories:

  • Government and Political Science
  • Economics and Cost Analysis

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