When President Teddy Roosevelt summarized his brand of foreign policy with the phrase "speak softly and carry a big stick," the "big stick" he referred to was likely to be a gunboat or battleship. For U.S. policymakers in more recent times, however, it has been economic sanctions. Reluctance to use military force, combined with the development of a global economic system, have made economic sanctions a preferred policy tool of the United States in the conduct of its foreign relations. Although the concept of economic sanctions conjures up the narrow image of punitive measures taken against another state, this Comment will give the term a broader meaning, encompassing a broad spectrum of state action that employs non-military means to pursue foreign policy objectives. Recent examples of economic sanctions thus defined have ranged from imposing embargoes on hostile states to bartering for the release of American hostages. This policy tool has become even more critical in today's global economy in which it is increasingly difficult to consider any major event in any country in isolation. Greater interdependence has forced the United States to pursue a more active foreign policy. Since it is impossible for the United States to resort to military force at every foreign policy juncture, economic sanctions have become a critically important means by which the United States can influence world developments.
Alexander F. Cohen & Joseph Ravitch,
Economic Sanctions, Domestic Deprivations, and the Just Compensation Clause: Enforcing the Fifth Amendment in the Foreign Affairs Context,
Yale J. Int'l L.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/yjil/vol13/iss1/7