The Trump administration’s latest tariff action isn’t necessarily unprecedented. But that doesn’t make it any less exceptional.
As a means of coercion short of war, international sanctions have become a key tool in the modern diplomatic toolbox. Sanctions may aim at preventing economic or military development as retaliation for perceived misconduct across a wide spread of policy areas, including human rights, the environment, and nuclear proliferation. In the case of economic sanctions, ongoing controversy over their effectiveness does not seem to have had a limiting effect on their widespread use.