What Are Sanctions? Let’s Break It Down
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Lately, we have heard that President Donald Trump may impose sanctions on different nations such as Venezuela and Middle Eastern countries. What are sanctions? How do they affect us and how do they affect the nation we impose them on?
First of all, sanctions are actions taken by nations against other nations for political reasons. These sanctions can take the many different forms. There are sport sanctions, economic sanctions, and diplomatic sanctions.
The United States typically uses the economic form sanctions to alter the behaviors of nations who have threatening interests.
In the US, sanctions can come from either the executive or legislative branches of government. Usually, the president starts the process by signing an executive order. The order declares that it is in response to an “unusual and extraordinary” foreign threat. For example the (EO 12938) was in response “the proliferation of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons” and the (EO 13661) was in response to “the actions and policies of the Government of the Russian Federation with respect to Ukraine.”
This now allows the president to regulate commerce between the nations in regard to the stated threat for one year. The time can be extended by himself/herself or by a joint resolution of congress.
How do the sanctions work?
Every sanction situation is unique. One must take into account the state of threat, emergency, global economy and many other factors. Economic sanctions are some of the most powerful sanctions because they affect the country it is intended for almost immediately. On import sanctions, the target countries exports cannot be purchased anymore. This would obviously be a catastrophe for an export-based economy. Sanctions also affect the country implementing them. Say the US has a sanction on Iran’s oil. We can no longer buy it from Iran because they can’t sell it to us. For them, a major buyer leaving the market will cripple their economy, but for the US, having one less country to buy oil from may lead to the price of oil spiking in the country, which damages the economy at home as well.
Before crying for sanctions against a country, let’s look at the situations in North Korea and Venezuela and think about how the sanctions are going to affect them, the global market, and the US. Due to the secretive state of North Korea, it is going to be difficult to assess the situation and the impact of the sanctions. The sanctions against Russia have only led them to create close bonds with neighboring countries; therefore, the sanctions are not impacting the country as hard as they were intended to. In regards to Venezuela, Venezuela is the third largest oil exporter to the US and it controls the largest oil reserves in the world. Sanctions on Venezuela would lead to possible job losses in US refineries and higher gas prices.
The decision to prompt sanctions is not taken lightly and is often difficult to formulate. As with any situation which concerns the global market, one change to one country can lead to many countries being affected and in turn, millions of people affected.
Vanessa is a journalism graduate from Florida Gulf Coast University. She loves traveling, hockey, and public speaking. When she’s not at work, you can find her roaming the aisles of Target, or having a mimosa on the beach.
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