“Are economic sanctions a moral substitute for war?”
— 2023 Question
Omar Jozilan is an 18 year-old American living in Egypt. He will be entering UND as a first-year Commercial Aviation major in the fall of 2023. Omar has wanted to be a commercial pilot since he was four. He is also a big sports fan, and loves traveling and discovering new cultures.
When Russia invaded Ukraine, NATO countries responded by cutting it off economically. Similar actions were taken when Iraq invaded Kuwait, when Iran refused to open its nuclear program to United Nations inspectors, and when Cuba aligned itself with the former Soviet Union. Economic sanctions and trade embargos are intended to pressure governments to curb their military action without resorting to violence. The world’s attitude tends to be that war is a last resort and that almost anything is preferable to its chaos and destruction.
The problem is that sanctions hurt a nation’s general population, more than its leaders and elites. Everything becomes more expensive. Food becomes scarce, building materials become inaccessible, and job opportunities disappear. Those on the lowest rung of society suffer first and the longest, while the rich and powerful use money and connections to purchase goods illegally.
The question of this essay asks you to balance the dangers of war against the harms of economic hardship. This is not an easy task. Yes, sanctions hurt the poor, but so does war. There too, the lower-economic classes suffer the most because they are the ones who fight in combat; they are the ones who are forced into military service. So, in times of imminent crisis, which policy should a nation adopt, fighting an enemy or pressuring them by denying their basic needs?
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