Cultural Revolutions

Sanctions and U.S. Foreign Policy

Sanctions are a favorite instrument of U.S. foreign policy, but the Clinton administration seems to be having second thoughts. Recently, at a White House meeting with evangelical leaders, the President told the group that well intentioned sanctions were getting in the way of U.S. interests. His statement echoes a report issued last July by the President's Export Council, which recommended the elimination of unilateral sanctions against Cuba, Iran, Libya, Burma, Sudan, and other countries.

If the assembled "Billy Bibles" were confused, they may have begun to get the point when a National Security Council document obtained by the Washington Times revealed the administration's plans to speed up the export of missile technology to China. Michael Chapman, writing in Investor's Business Daily, points out that the United States has already supplied China with a nuclear fission reactor, even though CIA sources say "China was the single most important supplier of equipment and technology for weapons of mass destruction worldwide . . . and . . . a key supplier of nuclear technology to Iran."

Critics of sanctions do have a valid point. Foreign policy should be based on national interest, rather than on idealistic theories of human rights. But the administration is caught on the horns of a dilemma that it has helped to create. In recent years, sanctions have been used against Iran,...

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