In This Review

Economic Sanctions and American Diplomacy
Economic Sanctions and American Diplomacy
Edited by Richard N. Haass
Council On Foreign Relations Press, 1998, 222 pp.

This timely analysis of the efficacy of economic sanctions consists of eight case studies dealing with China, Cuba, Haiti, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, and Yugoslavia. These episodes show both that sanctions often appear to be the least hazardous step available to policymakers -- hence their growing appeal in the 1990s -- and that the assessment of their utility is highly complex. The concluding chapter by Haass offers both a useful guide through this maze of conflicting evidence and prescriptions that deserve the most serious attention. Among the editor's recommendations are that the costs and benefits of sanctions require as much consideration as the use of force (if only because the former, as in Haiti, may lead to the latter); that multilateral support, from major allies if not from the Security Council, should normally be a prerequisite to their use; that secondary boycotts, such as those embodied in the Helms-Burton Act, are unwise; that greater attention needs to be given to the humanitarian consequences sanctions will often produce; and that states and municipalities should leave the authority to impose sanctions to the federal government, as Congress should allow to the president the discretion to waive them.