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Foreign Policy Essay

Understanding the Limits of Sanctions

Editor’s Note: Sanctions are increasingly America’s foreign policy instrument of first resort, promising success without the bloodshed that comes with military force. Iran’s willingness to cut a deal over its nuclear program is likely to make sanctions proponents even more confident. But Peter Feaver of Duke University and Eric Lorber of Gibson, Dunn, & Crutcher argue that the United States risks relying too much on sanctions. They contend sanctions’ effects are difficult to predict and the targeting often goes awry.

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