Join getAbstract to access the summary!

The United States of Sanctions

Join getAbstract to access the summary!

The United States of Sanctions

The Use and Abuse of Economic Coercion

Foreign Affairs,

5 min read
3 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Economic sanctions have increasingly become the United States’ foreign policy tool of choice.

Editorial Rating



  • Overview
  • Background
  • Concrete Examples


Professor Daniel W. Drezner claims that America’s use of economic sanctions as a means of enforcing its foreign policy agenda is falling flat. Coercive measures are essential tools of statecraft, but the United States needs to use those tools more wisely than more frequently, says Drezner, and it must articulate the conditions under which sanctions would be withdrawn as much as when they would be used. Students of political science and political economy will gain much from this sobering analysis.


US foreign policy has always included tools of economic pressure.

Economic tools of coercion have long been arrows in the quiver of American diplomacy. At the time of its founding, the United States relied heavily on trade as a foreign policy tool because its military was small, relative to those of economic heavyweights like the United Kingdom.

More than two centuries on, America continues to use sanctions as a cudgel to confront issues such as nuclear proliferation, human rights violations and territorial aggression.

Sanctions have become a diplomatic cure-all fraught with problems.

Since the 2010s, US presidents...

About the Author

Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

Comment on this summary