US frequent use of economic sanctions threatens ties with allies: Expert

Washington, DC, USA Published: Aug 17, 2018, 12:27 PM(IST)

August 23: Escalation Photograph:( Reuters )

US reckless use of unilateral sanctions will not only threaten its adversaries, but also its allies, said Neil Bhatiya, a US expert on economics and national security, on Wednesday.

Earlier in August, the US administration re-imposed economic sanctions on Iran, and doubled steel and aluminum tariffs on Turkey. It also announced new sanctions against Russia, banning many exports of goods, or technologies to Russia for national security reasons.

It threatened even tougher sanctions if the three countries don't meet its demand.

US frequent use of economic sanctions against other countries has drawn strong criticism among experts both inside and outside the country.

Neil Bhatiya, is a research associate for the Energy, Economics, and Security Program at the Center for a New American Security, a Washington, DC-based nonprofit organization that develops national security policies.

"I think it's a continuation of a trend we've seen in the past couple of years that the administrations from both parties see sanctions as an effective tool to achieve foreign policy ends. It's less destructive and costly than military intervention. You can cause a lot of economic pain quite quickly, and it shows that you are doing something about a particular problem. So they've alway been over the past few years very popular by US presidents, but now we are seeing even a more aggressive stance, sanctioning more entities. It's extended not only to US adversaries, but also to US allies," he said.

Some countries have threatened countermeasures, including retaliatory tariffs, against the US. Experts are worried that the US behavior might lead to financial turmoil and harm the global economy.

In a commentary published on August 8, entitled "For Trump, sanctions substitute for foreign policy", the Washington Post pointed out that the US has been using sanctions excessively while ignoring other diplomatic methods like negotiation.

Bhatiya believes that reckless use of sanctions will undermine their effectiveness, and hurt US ties with its allies.

"However, if you use them too much, if you use them too recklessly, if you don't have allies on board when you use them, you erode their effectiveness over time. If the rest of the world doesn't see the rationale for why you are using a particular sanction at a particular time, they may decide it's not worth their while to comply with them. What we are doing now, or what the administration is doing now, is I think ignoring some of those lessons. They are using sanctions very unilaterally. They are threatening not only US adversaries but also US allies and partners," he said.

Bhatiya also pointed out that in the run-up to US mid-term elections, Trump is using sanctions to prove that he is tough and is in command of the situation.

Analysts fear that the frequent imposition of economic sanctions might escalate tensions and threaten global stability.

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