Monday, March 12, 2007
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Does Zimbabwe support or weaken the smart sanctions argument?
Last week Michael H. Cognato blogged at Passport about the fact that smart sanctions seemed to be having an effect in Zimbabwe:
[The International Crisis Group] found that targeted sanctions have played an important role in undermining Mugabe's support:Sounds promising... until we get to more recent events. Like today's AP report:Targeted EU and U.S. sanctions on senior regime figures are working. ZANU-PF leaders cite their personal financial situations as motivation for wanting Mugabe out. “We have businesses which we worked hard over years to set up which are collapsing. It is about time we change course”, said a senior politburo member.The possible implications stretch far beyond Zimbabwe. Targeted sanctions, which limit the activity of specific regime members, rather than the entire country, are a relatively recent innovation. The hope has been that they would better pressure a target government while sparing its citizens needless suffering. Officials in Sudan, Iran, and North Korea are currently on the receiving end of these appeals to their unenlightened self-interest. The news out of Zimbabwe is reason to hope they might be similarly persuaded.
Top opposition leaders were assaulted and tortured by police who broke up a prayer meeting planned to protest government policies, colleagues of the activists said Monday.There are two ways to interpret this kind of repression. One way is that this is the last gasp of a dying regime. You can find this interpretation in this Washington Post story by Craig Timberg:
[Former member of parliament Roy] Bennett, speaking in Johannesburg after consulting with other opposition figures by phone, said Sunday's gathering was the beginning of mass protests against Mugabe's government under a newly formed Save Zimbabwe Coalition.The thing is, the Save Zimbabwe Campaign has been around for six months now, and prior efforts to mobilize have not panned out.
So there's another, gloomier possibility: smart sanctions are insufficient, and the state's ability to repress will not be tamed anytime soon.
posted by Dan on 03.12.07 at 03:30 PM
I am not sure that proponents of smart sanctions argue that they can single-handedly engender a peaceful transition. The sanctions have the benefit of concentrating costs among regime insiders to provide incentives to change policies, while not punishing those unrelated to the bad policies of the leadership. The question then to be asked is what is the cost of smart sanctions? Do smart sanctions encourage repression? If they do encourage repression, what is the average lifespan of such repression? These questions can and probably should be probed empirically as smart sanctions become a tool in policymaker's arsenals.posted by: Justin on 03.12.07 at 03:30 PM [permalink]
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