Friday, August 04, 2006

Disengagement's Dead End

Jacob Weisberg has a great Slate article about economic sanctions that I think applies more broadly to the political disengagement tactics so popular within the Bush administration. Weisberg points out that isolation has some use as an international signaling mechanism of disapproval, but often has the unfortunate effect of playing into the hands of the local dictator. The examples of failed disengagements are many. Dan Drezner, while agreeing with Weisberg generally, offered a few counterpoints. Drezner noted that in addition to the popular example of South Africa (which Weisberg discussed), Libya may also serve as an example of a positive outcome of sanctions (I think he's right on that). Also Drezner, citing China, notes that engagement is not always a panacea. I think it's a fair point that economic and political engagement rarely leads to immediate sweeping gains, but I'd argue that China has been trending in a positive direction overall.

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