Why Sanctions Failed to Roll Back Putin: Incongruity among Sanctioning Parties

Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 3, No. 8, August 2015.

By Olena Lennon and Alexander V. Laskin

A woman walks past a shop window with a T-shirt on display reading, 'I Believe in the Ruble', in downtown Moscow, Russia, on Monday, Dec. 22, 2014. The ruble has been the worst performing currency this year along with the Ukrainian hryvnia, having lost half of its value. Its collapse in the past weeks sparked a consumer boom as worried Russians flocked to the shops to buy cars and durable goods before prices rose further. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

A woman walks past a shop window with a T-shirt on display reading, ‘I Believe in the Ruble’, in downtown Moscow, Russia, on Monday, Dec. 22, 2014. The ruble has been the worst performing currency this year along with the Ukrainian hryvnia, having lost half of its value. Its collapse in the past weeks sparked a consumer boom as worried Russians flocked to the shops to buy cars and durable goods before prices rose further. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

Recent sanctions against Russia following its military incursion in Ukraine have not been effective in their short-term goal (Russia’s withdrawal from Ukraine) and long-term goal (change of Russia’s regime). By applying Lektzian and Patterson’s theory of winners and losers of sanctions to the Russian case, we argue that the sanctions have not been effective for three reasons: the cost of sanctions is lower than the cost of conceding, the economic costs associated with sanctions are felt disproportionately across groups, and increased restrictions to international commerce have fueled nationalism and empowered Russia’s authoritarian regime. Our analysis of anti-Russian sanctions also points to a gap in Lektzian and Patterson’s theory, which differentiates between the varying types of countries subjected to sanctions, but overlooks the multiplicity of political agendas among sanctioning parties. The case of sanctions against Russia demonstrates a lack of unity and prevalence of conflicting agendas among the sanctioning parties, such as the E.U. countries, the United States, and Canada. Therefore, to better understand the mechanism of sanctions and predict their success or failure, we recommend further categorizing sanctioning countries based on their involvement with the target country in terms of trade, joint research projects, and political alliances. This differentiation will allow us to examine the interaction between the varying types of sanctioning countries and target countries to determine which combinations are likely to bring the desired outcome.

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The Challenge of Militant Islam

Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 3, No. 8, August 2015.

By Ambassador Curtin Winsor, Jr. Ph.D.

We have a vital stake in a civilizational war,
(that is) inside someone else’s civilization.” -James Taub[i]

Kurdish people, living in Manchester (UK), protesting against the Turkish government for their lack of action against ISIS (also known as IS or ISIL) in the Syrian border town of Kobane. (Photo by Jonathan Nicholson/NurPhoto/Sipa USA)

Kurdish people, living in Manchester (UK), protesting against the Turkish government for their lack of action against ISIS (also known as IS or ISIL) in the Syrian border town of Kobane. (Photo by Jonathan Nicholson/NurPhoto/Sipa USA)

Islam, as a religious culture, is used to sanction war and terrorism by the Prophet Muhammad as he united the tribes of Arabia.  Islamic civilization evolved to support the world’s most advanced centers of learning and science during the eight centuries following the end of the Roman Empire and through the medieval period in Europe.[i]  Islam became a great culture and then it devolved, most recently, into the confusion and chaos of today’s Middle East. It is being manipulated by militant Islamists to sanctify the uses of violence and terrorism by an Islamic state. The outcome of this conflict will play an important role in the future of the United States and its relationship with the Middle East.

Militant Islamists and their new Islamic State are presently using tactics of terror against Sunni Muslim peoples in the Middle East to force them to abandon secular aspects of their cultures and return to a totalitarian religious culture. Although this pivotal struggle is now taking place within someone else’s civilization, if the militant Islamists prevail in the Middle East, the struggle will become part of the United States’ struggle.  The United States and the West will constantly be challenged by a ceaselessly aggressive and totalitarian religious culture. Such a threat to Western civilization would at least rival the West’s 20th century struggles with the Nazis and Communists.

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