To stop the construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the Obama administration could threaten to suspend the $3 billion a year it sends to Israel. That’s a move urged by former US Rep. Paul Findley, founder of a nonprofit group calling for even-handed US policy in the Middle East.
To keep Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, key nations could stop buying its oil and selling it much-needed gasoline. Those are two elements of a 12-point Iran policy proposed by Jennifer Mizrahi, head of the Israel Project, a pro-Israel nonprofit.
For centuries, nations have resorted to economic sanctions when diplomacy has failed. “It’s an intermediate tool … much preferable to declaring war,” says John Williamson, an economist at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington.
But does it work?
Sometimes. A survey of 204 episodes of economic sanctions since World War I found that about 1 in 3 succeeded in changing the behavior of the targeted regime or changing the regime itself, says Kimberly Elliott, whose study turned into a Peterson Institute book. In the 1970s and 1980s, though, US unilateral sanctions worked in only about 1 in 5 cases.
The US finds it easier to employ economic pressure with Iran than Israel. Israel is a close ally whom America wants to cajole. Iran is accused of funding terrorists and aiming to develop nuclear weapons. Yet, the US already has severely cut back trade… >>>