Any time there’s trouble brewing in foreign countries that the United States disapproves of, the term “sanctions” always comes to forefront. I guess it beats going to war. With that in mind I thought it might be interesting to take a look at some of the different types of sanctions that are imposed and what the consequences are for the offending nation.

Diplomatic sanctions

Diplomatic sanctions are essentially a slap on the wrist since they don’t have an impact on the country’s economy, trade or military. They might include boycotting such things as conferences, or withdrawing and/or expelling diplomatic missions or staff.

Economic sanctions

Other than outright war, economic sanctions are probably the most effective in getting someone to come around to your point of view. It’s intended to hit them where it hurts the most, right in the wallet. It can range from such things as imposing duties on imported goods, halting exports to the offending country and can even entail a full naval blockade of a given country’s ports.

Other types of economic sanctions include freezing a countries assets, banning the transfer of cash or technology and restricting travel.

There’s been some recent debate over how effective they really are since they often have a trickledown effect on the civilian population, particularly on the poor or working class and the higher ups or those in power remain relatively unscathed.

As a rule of thumb, most things like the delivery of medicine or forms of humanitarian relief in the case of a natural disaster will not be not be enforced under economic sanctions.

For the full skinny, click here.

Military sanctions

Look! Up in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a …..drone?

Drone strikes are fast becoming the sanction de rigueur when it comes to taking out specific targets whether they be human or capability based. They’re relatively cheap and the loss of life and or property is one sided.

Another type of military sanction is an arms embargo whereby a countries means for acquiring actual weapons, weapons grade materials or the technology to produce weapons is strictly curtailed.

Sports sanctions

I never really got this one but it seems to have become more popular over the years. I guess it’s more of a symbolic gesture intended to disgrace the host country or to prevent another country from appearing at the games.

Here’s a list of some of the more famous Olympic boycotts throughout the years.

1936 Summer Olympics, Berlin, Germany

To steal a line from the movie Field of Dreams, ”If you build it, they will come” and come they did. The was a lot of saber rattling going on at the time over Adolf Hitler and his policies but after much debate, each nation that was invited eventually showed up.

1956 Summer Olympics, Melbourne, Australia

A lot was going on in 1956 and the world in general was plenty pissed. The Soviets had invaded Hungary and in response the countries of Spain, The Netherlands and the ever neutral Swiss decided against sending their athletes. In addition, Egypt, Lebanon and Iraq pulled out due to the Suez Crisis and China stayed home over the inclusion of Taiwan.

1964 Olympics, Tokyo, Japan

The country of South Africa was officially banned from participating in the Olympics due their policies on apartheid. That ban lasted all the way to 1992.

1976 Summer Olympics, Montreal, Quebec

Most of the countries from Africa and the Caribbean nations refused to come over apartheid related policies. In a reversal of roles, Taiwan was not even invited since Canada at the time did recognize them separately from China.

1980 Summer Olympics, Moscow, Russia

President Jimmy Carter made the decision not to send American athletes to the games in response due to the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan.

1984 Summer Olympics, Los Angeles, USA

Two can play that game. The Soviet Union along with East Germany and other Communist countries boycotted the 1984 Games in response to the US led boycott in Moscow.

1988 Summer Olympics, Seoul, South Korea

In a move that shocked no one, North Korea kept its athletes home. They were joined by such world powers as Cuba and Ethopia.

Recently, the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China and the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sochi, Russia were threatened with boycotts. The Chinese were targeted for their human rights abuses and the Russians fell under the microscope regarding their stance on gay rights but no nations officially boycotted the games.

In closing, I’m sure the world is fast becoming a smaller and smaller place and as the years go by more and more sanctions will be imposed on countries for their actions whether they are real in nature or just another countries perception.


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