Trade Sanctions

In recent decades, the United States has imposed trade sanctions with increasing frequency and in pursuit of a growing variety of foreign policy goals. These sanctions can have tremendous economic and human costs in the targeted nations, especially for the poorest segments of their populations. What accounts for why policy makers apply sanctions when they do and in the form they do? Why impose sanctions on some nations but not on other nations behaving in similar fashion? Why apply comprehensive sanctions in some cases and limited sanctions in others? Which industries are hurt by sanctions, which industries benefit, and how are such costs and benefits weighed in the pursuit of broader foreign policy goals. This project attempts to address these questions by examining how sanctions are proposed and designed, what determines whether proposed sanctions are actually imposed, their type, severity, and duration.

Hiscox MJ. High Stakes: The Political Economy of U.S. Trade Sanctions, 1950-2000. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; Forthcoming.Abstract
The book examines U.S. sanctions policy from 1950 to 2010, reporting a new and detailed set of data on all trade sanctions imposed on foreign nations by the White House during this period, and all trade sanctions legislation proposed in Congress. It develops a model of sanctions policymaking that incorporates lobbying for organized special interest groups. The book's main argument is that U.S. sanctions policy has been powerfully shaped by domestic political calculations about the economic costs and benefits of different policies for particular groups; only rarely has policy reflected strategic calculations about how best to pressure foreign governments to alter their behavior in line with broader U.S. foreign policy objectives. Besides reporting the new quantitative data, the book presents detailed histories of the evolution of U.S. policy towards Cuba, the Soviet Bloc, South Africa, China, and Iraq. The book will be available from Cambridge University Press in 2012.