Over the last couple of months, Sarah, Will and I have been working on our MA theses, each hoping to make a sufficiently important contribution to the discipline (or at least show sufficient potential to some day contribute something) to warrant the department to continue funding us and let us start studying for comprehensive exams and work on our dissertation proposals. I'm writing my thesis on the intersection between economic sanctions and finance, specifically how financial integration and sovereign borrowing affects a target state's decision to acquiesce to sender demands in high politics cases.
Sanctions are made to cut countries off from vital international exchange. The trouble is, Eritrea already trades less with the outside world than any country in Africa and places 210th out of all 226 countries and islands for global commerce.He then discusses the specific case of Eritrea and how sanctions against dictators won't work because they won't respond to the coercive attempts of larger states and concludes:
These lessons apply to sanctions on dictators more broadly. How do you punish North Korea with sanctions when its trading partners are already limited to a handful of countries -- none of which are likely to pay heed to a harsher set of rules? How do you choke Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe when his strongest rationale for staying in power is to save his country from the hands of countries who would (and do) impose sanctions? Perhaps it's no wonder that such countries' leaders not only survive sanctions, but use them to justify bad behavior.I'm really happy to see McLure make this argument, and the beginning of his logic is similar to what I am arguing in my thesis. However, McLure stumbles in a couple of ways, specifically when he conflates "international exchange" with trade flows and makes a distinction between autocratic and democratic governments that I argue actually doesn't matter. Analyzing sanctions episodes using a political economy approach, specifically looking at the influences of trade and finance on sanctions success makes a lot of sense and should give our explanations greater traction (at least I hope it does). This is one way in which the extant literature on economic sanctions has been surprisingly weak.