Are Sanctions All We Can Rely On?

Thomas F Campenni
2 min readJan 26, 2022

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The U.S. government has become a one-trick pony when it comes to how we deal with our adversaries.

If we don’t like something another country does, we sanction them. We are approaching 9000 different sanctions in place on foreign businesses, individuals, and countries. We have had sanctions in place on Cuba since 1959.

What is the purpose of us instituting sanctions on another country, person, or foreign business? Supposedly it is to make those nations with whom we disagree to change their behavior. The success rate has not been very high. So then why do we continue to do it?

It is a way for us to make a point without much downside. Imposing sanctions allows Washington to seem to be doing something without expending too much political capital. To change another nation’s behavior, the most tried and true method would be using hard power such as our armed forces. The United States can’t go to war with every country where we have a disagreement.

Currently, we are trying to deter Russia from invading Ukraine. In conjunction with our allies, we are using diplomacy. The threat of sanctions is our end game if Russia does invade. Will that be enough of a deterrent?

The United States currently has various economic sanctions on Russia for annexation of Crimea, invasion of eastern Ukraine, election interference, malicious cyber activities, human rights violations, and chemical weapons violations. Does anyone think that further sanctions will deter Putin from acting against Ukraine?

Ultimately, sanctions are only one tool that can be used. We should also look to embargo Russian oil and gas from reaching our European allies. During this time, we should have been putting in place alternate supplies of fuel for Germany, Poland, and other NATO partners that depend on Russia for their energy supply.

We should be looking to close off international banking outlets to the Russian financial system. Impound the billions of dollars in the accounts of Putin and his cronies, beef up troops and supplies to Eastern European allies, and continue to arm the Ukrainian military forces.

A Ukrainian invasion should be so painful that Putin seeks to flex his muscles in another manner. Russia is not anywhere as large a threat as China. Yet if we are not resolute and ready to stand against Russian aggression, China will take notice. That is the big problem with having a show but only for domestic consumption.

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Thomas F Campenni

Currently lives in Stuart Florida and former City Commissioner. His career has been as a commercial real estate owner, broker and manager in New York City.