Sanctions, while slow and decidedly lacking in dramatic flair, are the primary weapon in America’s diplomatic arsenal. The nation’s massive economy stretches out over the globe, where American naval power provides stability in shipping lanes and American consumerism provides a seemingly insatiable market for wares, resources and services. Cutting off a nation from both that massive network of customers and support as well as allied revenue sources can be far more effective than a military operation at achieving America’s long-term goals. Blow up a building and your enemy will rebuild; stifle their ability to build and they’re left to stagnate.
Kim Jong Un’s North Korean regime is quick to denounce the idea that financial pressure, borne in large part through American influence and sanctions, led to his apparent willingness to negotiate with western powers about his nation’s nuclear pursuits. Still, there is little doubt within the international community that economics played a large role in getting Kim to the table. Although there remain questions about the impending summit between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un, it’s important to note that those sanctions remain in place and it’s very likely that the two leaders will be able to find some sort of agreement that, at the very least, postpones the possibility of nuclear war.
Thus is the power of the mighty dollar. Nuclear war averted. National positions adjusted. We live to fight another day.
Of course, there are other economic powers in the world, and some may take issue with America weaponizing the global economy. However, it can be difficult to argue for the alternative, where America solves its disputes with guided munitions and troops in combat. At least, it would seem that the Trump administration thinks so because it appears that they may be duplicating Trump’s aggressive approach to North Korea with another aggressive state on the verge of nuclearizing: Iran.
“Sanctions are going back in full effect, and new ones are coming,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said about Iran before the conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation on Monday.
“Sanctions, of course, represent the sharpened edge of American diplomacy, but as Trump demonstrated with a series of pointed statements directed at Kim Jong Un in recent months, sanctions alone aren’t sufficient to set the table for future negotiation — you’ve also got to talk tough.”