I tend to think military strikes are more effective than economic sanctions at persuading rogue nations to comply with international will, but there's no denying that sanctions can have significant indirect effects. For instance, consider the recent plane crash in Iran in which more than 120 people were killed when an American-made C-130 crashed into an apartment building.

Iran has a poor airline safety record following a string of air disasters in the past 30 years although most have involved Russian-made aircraft.

U.S. sanctions have prevented Iran from buying new aircraft or spares from the West, forcing it to supplement its fleet of Boeing and Airbus planes with aircraft from former Soviet Union countries.

This plane crash was an indirect result of economic sanctions. Aside from the general economic hardship caused by sanctions -- and the resulting illness and poverty -- specific instances of civilian death like this incident should lead us to consider whether or not sanctions are actually more civilized than direct military confrontation. Poor civilians bear most of the costs of economic sanctions, and in the tyrannical dictatorships we're likely to oppose they're also the people with the least control over their nation's foreign policy.



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