by Joy Gordon

Sanctions, like siege, intend harm to civilians and therefore cannot be justified as a tool of warfare.

JOY GORDON teaches in the Philosophy Department at Fairfield University.

Economic sanctions are rapidly becoming one of the major tools of international governance of the post-Cold War era. The UN Security Council, empowered under Article 16 of the UN Charter to use economic measures to address "threats of aggression" and "breaches of peace," approved partial or comprehensive sanctions on only two occasions from 1945 to 1990. By contrast, since 1990 the Security Council has imposed sanctions on eleven nations, including the former Yugoslavia, Libya, Somalia, Liberia, Haiti, and several other nations. However, the U.S. has imposed sanctions, unilaterally or with other nations, far more frequently than any other nation in the world, or any multinational body in the world, including the United Nations. More than two-thirds of the sixty-plus sanctions cases between 1945 were initiated and maintained by the United States, and three-quarters of these cases involved unilateral U.S. action without significant participation by other countries.(1) Thus, while the question of ethical legitimacy has implications for the UN strategies of international governance, it has far greater implications for the U.S., which uses sanctions more frequently and in many more contexts, from trade regimes and human rights enforcement to its efforts to maintain regional and global hegemony.

Sanctions seem to lend themselves well to international governance. They seem more substantial than mere diplomatic protests, yet they are politically less problematic, and less costly, than military incursions. They are often discussed as though they were a mild sort of punishment, not an act of aggression of the kind that has actual human costs. Consequently, sanctions have for the most part avoided the scrutiny that military actions would face, in the domains of both politics and ethics.

The sanctions against Iraq, and the massive, long-term human suffering they have inflicted, have undermined this common view of sanctions. Since 1991, international agencies have documented Iraq's explosion in child mortality rates, water-borne diseases from untreated water supplies, malnutrition in large sectors of the population, and on and on. The most reliable estimate holds that 237,000 Iraqi children under five are dead as a result of sanctions, with other estimates going as high as one million.(2) The deaths from sanctions are far greater than the number of Iraqis directly killed in the Persian Gulf War -- an estimated 40,000 casualties, both military and civilian.(3) But the sanctions are shocking not only because of the extent of the human damage, but also because the suffering has been borne primarily by women, children, the elderly, the sick, and the poor; the state and the wealthy classes seem to be inconvenienced, but are otherwise exempt from extreme hardship.

The situation in Iraq compels us to reexamine the moral basis of economic sanctions. Because it is now clear that sanctions can do fully as much human damage as warfare, it seems to me critical that we begin applying a higher level of scrutiny than has been the case since the end of World War I. Furthermore, because sanctions are themselves a form of violence, I would argue that they cannot legitimately be seen merely as a peacekeeping device, or as a tool for enforcing international law. Rather, I will suggest, they require the same level of justification as other acts of warfare. Thus, in this essay, I will look at principles of Just War Doctrine, applicable in the case of Iraq, but I will also look at Just War Doctrine as it applies to sanctions generally, even where the human consequences are less extreme than those in Iraq.

I will argue that economic sanctions violate Just War principles of both jus ad bellum and jus in bello. Jus ad bellum requires that a belligerent party have valid grounds for engaging in warfare, whereas jus in bello requires that the war be fought in accordance with certain standards of conduct. To engage in warfare at all, the belligerent party must have a just cause. "Just cause" requires "a real and certain danger," such as protecting innocent life, preserving conditions necessary for decent human existence, and securing basic human rights.(4) Secondly, under the requirement of proportionality, the damage inflicted "must not be greater than the damage prevented or the offense being avenged."(5) Finally, there must be a probability of success. The "probability of success" criterion prohibits resort to force when the outcome will be futile.(6)

In the case of Iraq, the initial justification for sanctions was Iraq's incursion into Kuwait. Yet, the invasion of Kuwait clearly had a human cost that was far less than the casualties from sanctions; estimates range as high as 20,000 Kuwaiti casualties (combined military and civilian). Furthermore, it has been eight years since Iraq withdrew; thus the sanctions can no longer be justified as a means of stopping a present act of aggression. The current justification for sanctions is that Iraq possesses the means to produce chemical and biological weapons. However, it is not clear that this meets the proportionality test. Although they are called "weapons of mass destruction," biological and chemical weapons, in contrast to nuclear weapons, are not in fact prohibited for the scale of harm done, but for the type of suffering they cause to individuals and its indiscriminate character. In any event, according to UNSCOM's claims, Iraq is not currently using any such weapons and is not actually accused of possessing the weapons themselves, but only of possessing the means to produce them. It is hard to see how a quarter million civilian deaths is a proportional response not to any present act of aggression, but something fairly far removed from that -- the possession of the means to produce weapons which might do indiscriminate harm, if they are constructed, and if they are then used. Yet, to constitute "just cause," the offense must be "actual, not only possible," according to Yoder.(7)

If we were to hold that possession of such weapons itself justifies retaliation against an entire population, then there is a larger problem. Virtually every country in the world, including many other countries in unstable regions, possess such means, if not the actual weapons themselves. Chemical and biological weapons are notoriously easy to produce; they require little more than a college chemistry lab. Any country which produces pharmaceuticals, or for that matter pesticides, possesses the means to produce chemical and biological weapons. Furthermore, in practice, their use has by no means been consistently treated by the world community as a war crime. There was no such response, for example, to the widespread use of Agent Orange, a biological weapon, by the U.S. throughout the Vietnam War.

The "probability of success" criterion is likewise problematic in the case of Iraq. After eight years, it is hard to see how one could plausibly claim that sanctions are likely to succeed in achieving various changes in Iraq state policies, including the removal of Saddam Hussein, given that, to date, they have been so patently ineffectual.(8) Sanctions are notorious for their low rate of success in achieving political goals. The most extensive study of sanctions episodes in this century estimates that sanctions are "a factor" in achieving the target state's compliance about one-third of the time.(9) But even this figure has been challenged as far too optimistic.(10) The typical response of a people in the face of sanctions is in fact to "rally 'round the flag," and support the leadership in the face of foreign coercion.(11) That response has characterized sanctions situations from Italian support for Mussolini in the face of the League of Nations' boycott and Serbian support of Slobodan Milosevic, to the U.S. response to the Arab oil boycott of the 1970s. The situations where outside sanctions actually help erode the internal legitimacy of the state, such as in South Africa, are infrequent.

In South Africa, for example, the external sanctions imposed on the country were accompanied by extensive political activity toward democracy inside South Africa. The sanctions were also explicitly supported by several sectors of the black population, the population hardest hit by the sanctions. The first factor contributed directly to the end of apartheid, and it is not clear whether the changes which finally took place were attributable to the sanctions themselves, or to the political movements within and outside the country. The second factor changes the ethical context, since there was explicit, informed consent by those harmed. It seems to me that the example of South Africa does not offer a justification of sanctions that extends beyond the particulars of that situation, any more than a boxer who consents to risk being harmed in a fight provides a general justification for other kinds of assault, including assault against nonconsenting individuals.

Thus, sanctions do not appear to be morally defensible in the ways they have been used against Iraq, under the principle of jus ad bellum. But of course the issues of proportionality and just cause will vary from situation to situation. It is conceivable within this framework that if the cause were different, if the sanctions were less extreme, and if they were more efficacious, there could well be a situation where it would be permissible to engage in warring acts, including sanctions. However, I would suggest in this case, sanctions are inherently indefensible as a means of conducting warfare.

The jus in bello principle of discrimination holds that the means used for warfare must not be indiscriminate. The means used "must respect the immunity of the innocent," where "innocent" refers to "those who are no threat." This encompasses (1) women, children, the aged, infirm; (2) clergy, religious, foreigners; (3) unarmed persons going about their ordinary vocations; and (4) soldiers on leave or who have become prisoners. "Innocent does not mean that persons are not patriotic, do not morally support the war effort, or do not participate in the wartime economy, but only that they are no threat, are not combatant."(12)

The principle of discrimination in Just War Doctrine requires the attacker to distinguish between combatants and noncombatants; between combatants who are injured and those who are uninjured; between combatants who are armed and those who have surrendered and are defenseless; etc.(13) Under Just War Doctrine, there is no strict prohibition against killing civilians, or killing injured or unarmed combatants, when it is required by "military necessity" or as an unavoidable consequence of an attack on a legitimate military target. A common example is that an ammunition factory is a legitimate military target in wartime; if in bombing the factory, civilians who live nearby are also killed, no war crime has been committed. What is prohibited is to target civilians directly, or injured or defenseless combatants; or to bomb indiscriminately, where the deaths of civilians are foreseeable.

As Walzer notes, siege is the oldest form of war waged against both soldiers and civilians. In siege, noncombatants are not only exposed, but in fact are more likely to be killed than combatants, given that the goal of siege "is surrender, not by defeat of the enemy army, but by the fearful spectacle of the civilian dead."(14) Thus, siege warfare has the quality of actually inverting the principle of discrimination. Siege operates by restricting the economy of the entire community, creating shortages of food, water, and fuel. Those who are least able to survive the ensuing hunger, illness, and cold are the very young, the elderly, and those who are sick or injured. Thus the direct consequence of siege is that harm is done to those who are least able to defend themselves, who present the least military threat, who have the least input into policy or military decisions, and who are most vulnerable to hunger, cold, and illness. The harm done by the enemy's deprivation is exacerbated by domestic policy, which typically shifts whatever resources there are to the military and to the political leadership. This is sometimes done for security reasons, in the belief that defending against military attack is the highest priority, and is more immediately urgent than the slower damage of hunger and illness to which the civilian population is subjected. It may also happen because the leadership is corrupt, or because the desperation creates conditions for black marketeering. Both of these consequences -- the suffering of the innocent and helpless, and the shifting of resources to the military and to the privileged -- are as old as siege itself. In a siege,

civilians and soldiers are exposed to the same risks. Scarcity and proximity make them equally vulnerable. Or perhaps not equally so: in this kind of war, once combat begins, noncombatants are more likely to be killed. The soldiers fight from protected positions, and the civilians, who don't fight at all, are quickly made over. . . into "useless mouths." Fed last, and only with the army's surplus, they die first.(15)

In addition, although the harm to the civilian population is slower than that done by warfare, it is not necessarily any less severe. Walzer quotes a passage from an account of the Roman siege of Jerusalem:

The restraint of liberty to pass in and out of the city took from the Jews all hope of safety, and the famine now increasing consumed whole households and families; and the houses were full of dead women and infants; and the streets filed with the dead bodies of old men. And the young men, swollen like dead men's shadows, walked in the market place and fell down dead where it happened. And now the multitude of dead bodies was so great that they that were alive could not bury them, nor cared they for burying them. . . And those who were yet living, without tears beheld those who being dead were now at rest before them. There was no noise heard from within the city. . .(16)

Thus, the argument can be made that siege has the character of being a form of warfare which itself constitutes a war crime. By its very nature, it is easily foreseeable or calculated to cause direct harm to those who are, in Just War Doctrine, supposed to be exempt from warfare -- the apolitical and the unarmed -- in order to influence indirectly those who are armed and those who are responsible for military and political decisions. Let us place siege in the context of war crimes and Just War Doctrine: in Just War Doctrine, we could demand a justification for a military strategy in terms of the obligation to minimize harm to civilians -- the ammunition factory was a legitimate target, and there was no way to bomb it without collateral damage to nearby residential areas. But siege is peculiar in that it resists such an analysis -- the immediate goal is precisely to cause suffering to civilians. In the case of the ammunitions factory, we can answer the question: How is this act consistent with the moral requirement to discriminate? In the case of siege, we cannot.

It may be argued that military necessity sometimes justifies the use of siege warfare, and that in this case, military necessity overrides the principle of discrimination. "Military necessity" is sometimes defined as consisting of acts "which are indispensable for securing the complete submission of the enemy as soon as possible," according to a version of the U.S. Army Field Manual. Alternatively, military necessity is sometimes understood to include, by definition, whatever limitations are required by international law, including humanitarian principles and the principle of discrimination.(17) If military necessity legitimizes any act of war, then the principle of discrimination becomes a luxury rather than a limitation of military conduct; it would hold only that one may not target civilians gratuitously. On the other hand, if military necessity is constrained by the principle of discrimination, then one may not target civilians, even where it would be of great value to the war effort. The "unanswered question," however, "is whether the function of laws of war is to protect all militarily necessary acts or to serve as a judge of those militarily necessary acts that should be forbidden," given that "there is a widespread suspicion that there really are no laws of war. After all, the Hague Conventions were prefaced by the formula, 'if military circumstances permit,' and the Conventions of Geneva provided that nations could renounce them."(18)

It is sometimes said that military necessity is the exception that swallows Just War Doctrine altogether, since virtually anything can be justified -- by the party doing it -- as having a military purpose. An argument can be made, at least by the acting party, that there are circumstances in which it would be militarily necessary to demoralize the civilian population by conducting carpet bombing as a method of psychological warfare, or as a means of undermining the entire industrial base and labor force upon which military production depends. If military necessity can legitimate harm directly and intentionally done to civilians, then it is true that siege can invoke this justification; but if so, then the principle of discrimination has been lost altogether. If the principle of discrimination is to have any meaning at all, then directly harming children, the sick, and the elderly, in order to indirectly influence military and political leaders, must be ethically precluded, and this preclusion must not be overridden by a claim of military necessity. The alternative -- to hold that military necessity can legitimize direct and intentional harm to civilians -- is effectively to take a realist or nihilist position that ethical restraint has no place in war. But while that position would be available to those engaged in warfare, it would seem to be unavailable to those seeking to impose or justify sanctions on such grounds as international law or human rights, since these claims themselves invoke a legal and ethical framework.

In certain respects, sanctions are obviously the modern version of siege warfare -- each involves the systematic deprivation of a whole city or nation of economic resources. Although in siege warfare this is accomplished by surrounding the city with an army, the same effect can be achieved by using international institutions and international pressure to prevent the sale or purchase of goods, and to prevent migration. It is sometimes argued that an embargoed nation can still engage in some marginal trade, despite sanctions; but similarly in a siege there may be marginal ways of getting goods through gaps in the blockade. In both cases, however, the unit under embargo or siege is a mixed population rather than a military installation, or is entirely civilian. In both cases, the net effect is the same, which is the disruption or strangulation of the economy as a whole.(19)

Christiansen and Powers argue that the Just War Doctrine, which holds that civilians and noncombatants should be immune from direct attack, does not apply to peacetime sanctions in the same way that this doctrine applies to sieges and blockades imposed as part of a war effort.(20) Scholars in the Just War tradition, they note, "often treat economic sanctions as analogous with acts of war. . . along with blockades and sieges."(21) However, Christiansen and Powers argue that sanctions without war have a different moral status, for three reasons: first, unlike wartime blockades, economic sanctions are not imposed as a form of war, but as an alternative to warfare; second, some kinds of harms may in fact be justified, either because the population has consented to the state's policies or because it shares responsibility for them in some fashion; and third, with appropriate humanitarian measures built in, the harm inflicted by sanctions is not as extreme as the harm done by war.(22) The fundamental difference, they hold, is that the use of economic sanctions is rooted in the intention to avoid the use of armed force, as opposed to the intent to multiply the effects of war; and that as a lower-level exercise of coercion, it raises the threshold for the use of actual force, thereby lowering the likelihood of actual warfare.(23)

To some extent, their reasons reiterate the same arguments made by others -- that sanctions are less harsh than warfare; that the population consented to, or for other reasons can properly be held responsible for, the acts of the leadership; that structuring in humanitarian exceptions will prevent sanctions from causing death or great suffering. I have addressed these issues elsewhere.(24) Here I want to look at Christiansen and Powers to draw a distinction between sanctions-as-war and sanctions-without-war. The distinction does not resolve the underlying question: Are sanctions a device that keeps the peace and enforces international law, or are they intrinsically a form of violence, which in fact violates the laws of warfare? Woodrow Wilson, in urging the adoption of sanctions as a method by which the League of Nations would keep the world free of war, described them as a "peaceful, silent, deadly remedy." And indeed, before the Iraq situation showed us how extensive and extreme the human damage from sanctions can be, economic sanctions were most commonly portrayed in the U.S. as a kind of stern but peaceful act -- a punishment which inconveniences or embarrasses, but does no damage of the sort that raises moral issues. In fact, it was the peace activists who, in 1990, were in the forefront arguing that sanctions be used in the case of Iraq rather than military undertakings.

Like many other commentators, Christiansen and Powers are partly basing their claim on two sets of empirical assumptions regarding the speed and degree of damage done by sanctions: "Whereas war's impact is speedy and frequently lethal, the impact of sanctions grows over time and allows more easily for mitigation of these harmful effects and for a negotiated solution than acts of war."(25) Christiansen and Powers suggest that the way to conceptualize sanctions is that warfare is akin to the death penalty, whereas sanctions are more like attaching someone's assets in a civil proceeding.(26) In this analogy, the economic domain is seen as fully separate, and of a different nature altogether, than the domain of power and of violence. But economic harm, while it is not directly physical, can also be a form of violence. The sanctions-as-mere-seizure-of-assets theory, whether on the level of the individual or an entire economy, implicitly assumes a starting point of relative abundance. Whether the seizure of someone's assets is inconvenient or devastating depends entirely on what their assets are, and how much is left after the seizure. For an upper-middle-class person with, say, $50,000 in stocks and an annual income of $80,000, seizing $1000 from a checking account would at most cause inconvenience, annoyance, perhaps some slight reduction in luxuries or indulgences. For someone living at poverty level, seizing $1000 may mean that a family has lost irreplaceably the ability to pay for fuel oil for a winter's heating season, or lost their car in a rural area with no other transportation, or lost the security deposit and first month's rent on an apartment that would have given them a way out of a homeless shelter. Living in a home with a temperature of 40 degrees in the winter does not kill quickly, in the way that a bullet does, and may not kill at all. It may only make someone sick, or over some time, worsen an illness until death occurs. Living in a shelter or on the street for a night or for a week or for a month doesn't kill in the way that a bullet does, but it exposes someone to a risk of considerable random violence, including killings. To conceptualize economic deprivation in terms of mild punishment whose effects are reversible with no permanent damage -- inconvenience, embarrassment, living on a budget -- is to misunderstand the nature of the economic. "Economic deprivation" is not a uniform phenomenon; the loss of conveniences constitutes a different experience than the loss of the means to meet basic needs. There is a reason that infant mortality rates and life expectancy rates are used as measures of economic development: poverty manifests itself in malnutrition, sickness, exposure to the elements, exhaustion, dirty drinking water, the lack of means to leave a violent country or neighborhood -- the shortening of one's life. It is for this reason that liberation theologians and others have argued that poverty is indeed a form of violence, although it doesn't kill in the way that a bullet does.

Christiansen and Powers argue that sanctions differ from siege partly on the grounds that the intent of sanctions is to prevent violence rather than exacerbate it. Under the doctrine of double effect, however, this does not seem to hold. The doctrine of double effect provides that

the foreseen evil effect of a man's action is not morally imputable to him, provided that (1) the action in itself is directed immediately to some other result, (2) the evil effect is not willed either in itself or as a means to the other result, (3) the permitting of the evil effect is justified by reasons of proportionate weight.(27)

Although the doctrine of double effect would seem to justify "collateral damage," it does not offer a justification of sanctions. "Collateral damage" entails the unintended secondary harm to civilians. If a bombing raid is conducted against a military base, the collateral damage would be that the schoolhouse half a mile away was destroyed by a bomb that missed its intended target, which was the military base. In that case, the bombing raid would be equally successful if the base were hit, and the schoolhouse were undamaged. But the damage done by indirect sanctions is not in fact "collateral," in that the damage to the civilian population is necessary and instrumental. The direct damage to the economy is intended to indirectly influence the leadership, by triggering political pressure or uprisings of the civilians, or by generating moral guilt from the "fearful spectacle of the civilian dead." Sanctions directed against an economy would in fact be considered unsuccessful if no disruption of the economy took place. We often hear commentators objecting that "sanctions didn't work" in one situation or another because they weren't "tight" enough -- they did not succeed in disrupting the economy. Thus, sanctions are not defensible under the doctrine of double effect. Although the end may indeed be legitimate, the intended intermediate means consists of the generalized damage to the economy, which violates both the first and second requirements of the doctrine. But there is a second reason why good intent can not available as a justification for sanctions: the intent cannot in good faith be reconciled with the history and the logic of sanctions, and with the likely outcome. We know from the history of siege warfare that, legitimately or not, in the face of economic strangulation, the military and political leadership will insulate themselves from its consequences, and place a disproportionate burden on the civilian population. We also know from history that economic strangulation will consolidate the state's power rather than undermine it; we know that sanctions are, for the most part, unlikely to prevent military aggression, or stop human rights violations, or achieve compliance with any political or military demand, even when sanctions drag on for decades. It is hard to reconcile the claimed "good intent" of sanctions with a history that makes it easy to foresee that those intentions are not likely to be realized. Thus, I would suggest that while sanctions may have very different goals than siege warfare -- including goals such as international governance -- they are nevertheless subject to many of the same moral objections: that they intentionally, or at least predictably, harm the most vulnerable and the least political; and that this is something which the party imposing sanctions either knows, or should know. To the extent that economic sanctions seek to undermine the economy of a society, and thereby prevent the production or importation of necessities, they are functioning as the modern equivalent of siege. To the extent that sanctions deprive the most vulnerable and least political sectors of society of the food, potable water, medical care, and fuel necessary for survival and basic human needs, sanctions should be subject to the same moral objections as siege warfare.

I do not deny that the contexts in which sanctions and sieges occur may be different, the intent of each may differ, the nature of the demands may be different, and the options of the besieged or sanctioned states may be different. But the moral objection to sanctions does not rest on the analogy; sanctions do not have to be identical to siege warfare in order to be subject to condemnation under just war principles. Indeed, if the intent of sanctions is peaceful rather than belligerent, then the usual justifications in warfare are unavailable. I am morally permitted to kill where my survival is at stake; and in war, I am morally permitted to kill even innocents, in some circumstances. But if one's goal is to see that international law is enforced or that human rights are respected, then the stakes and the justificatory context are quite different. It is hard to make sense of the claim that "collateral damage" can be justified in the name of protecting human rights; or that international law might be enforced by means that stand in violation of international laws, including the just war principle of discrimination. Thus, if sanctions are analogous to siege warfare, then they are problematic for the same reasons -- both effectively violate the principle of discrimination. But if sanctions are not analogous to siege, then sanctions are even more problematic. If the goals of sanctions are the enforcement of humanitarian standards or compliance with legal and ethical norms, then extensive and predictable harm to civilians cannot even be justified by reference to survival or military advantage. Insofar as this is the case, sanctions are simply a device of cruelty garbed in self-righteousness.

To the extent that we see sanctions as a means of peacekeeping and international governance, sanctions effectively escape ethical analysis -- we do not judge them by the same standards we judge other kinds of harm done to innocents. Yet, concretely, the hunger, sickness, and poverty which are ostensibly inflicted for benign purposes affect individuals no differently than hunger, sickness, and poverty inflicted out of malevolence. To describe sanctions as a means of "peacekeeping" or "enforcing human rights" is an ideological move, which, from the perspective of concrete personal experiences, is simply counterfactual. Sanctions are, at bottom, a bureaucratized, internationally organized form of siege warfare, and should be seen, and judged, as such.


1. [Back to text]  "Economic Sanctions in Contemporary Global Relations," George A. Lopez and David Cortright, in Economic Sanctions: Panacea or Peacebuilding in a Post-Cold War World?, ed. George A. Lopez and David Cortright (Boulder: Westview, 1995), 5. These figures are consistent with the most extensive database regarding sanctions in the twentieth century, Economic Sanctions Reconsidered, 2d ed. (Washington D.C.: Institute for International Economics, 1990), ed. Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Jeffrey J. Schott, and Kimberly Ann Elliott. Elliott notes (in 1995, after the second edition was published), that: "Of 104 sanctions episodes from World War II through the UN embargo of Iraq, the United States was a key player in two-thirds. In 80 percent of U.S.-imposed sanctions, the policy was pursued with no more than minor cooperation from its allies or international organizations." "Factors Affecting the Success of Sanctions," Kimberly Ann Elliott, in Economic Sanctions, 51.

2. [Back to text]  Richard Garfield, "Morbidity and Mortality among Iraqi Children from 1990 to 1998: Assessing the Impact of Economic Sanctions," Occasional Paper no. 16:OP:3, Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame, 1. Note that this figure does not include the adult deaths resulting from the sanctions, for which figures are generally not given because of the difficulty of documenting specific sources of mortality using the methods applicable to infants and young children.

3. [Back to text]  See also Garfield's summary of measurements of Gulf War mortality in "Morbidity and Mortality among Iraqi Children from 1990 to 1998," 17.

4. [Back to text]  U.S. Catholic Bishops, "The Challenge of Peace: God's Promise and Our Response," May 1983 pastoral letter, in Malham M. Wakin, ed., War, Morality, and the Military Profession, 2d ed. (Boulder: Westview Press, 1986), 245-46.

5. [Back to text]  John Howard Yoder, When War is Unjust (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1996), 156.

6. [Back to text]  U.S. Catholic Bishops, 248.

7. [Back to text]  Yoder, When War is Unjust, 150.

8. [Back to text]  I will not address here the question of the legitimacy of particular political goals, such as the removal of a country's leader from office.

9. [Back to text]  Economic Sanctions Reconsidered.

10. [Back to text]  Robert Pape argues that in most of these cases, there were other factors as well as sanctions, such as military actions, such that it is impossible to say with any certainty what role was played by the sanctions themselves. In only about 5 percent of the situations was there some political change could clearly be attributed directly to sanctions. "Why Economic Sanctions Do Not Work," International Security 22, no. 2 (Fall 1997).

11. [Back to text]  Johann Galtung's work in the 1960s has been widely cited in this regard. See, for example, Ivan Eland's comment that "Galtung used the term rally-around-the-flag effect to argue that leaders in target nations could use the economic pain caused by foreign nations to rally their populations around their cause. Rather than creating disintegration in the target state, sanctions would invoke nationalism and political integration." Ivan Eland, "Economic Sanctions as Tools of Foreign Policy," in Economic Sanctions, 32.

12. [Back to text]  Yoder, When War is Unjust, 157. Yoder notes that the clarity of this definition "has recently been compromised, though not logically set aside, by the notion of a quasi-combatant work force." But this is exactly the heart of the issue: if the economy as a whole supports the military or the political leadership -- even if it is just by having roads which the military uses, along with everyone else; or even if it is just by feeding the civilian populace, which frees up food for the soldiers -- then, the argument goes, the economy itself is fair game.

13. [Back to text]  See generally Ian Clark, Waging War: A Philosophical Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988), 87-97; James Turner Johnson, Just War Tradition and the Restraint of War (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981); and Telford Taylor, "War Crimes," in Nuremberg and Vietnam: An American Tragedy (New York: Times Books, 1970).

14. [Back to text]  Michael Walzer, Just and Unjust Wars, 2d ed. (Glenview, Ill.: Basic Books, 1977).

15. [Back to text]  Walzer, 160.

16. [Back to text]  Walzer, 161, citing The Works of Josephus, trans. Tho. Lodge (London 1620): The Wars of the Jews, Bk. VI, ch. XIV, 721

17. [Back to text]  Robert L. Holmes, On War and Morality, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989), 101-6; William O'Brien, The Conduct of Just and Limited War (New York: Praeger, 1981), 64-67; Johnson, Just War Tradition and the Restraint of War, 86-94.

18. [Back to text]  "Military Necessity," An Encyclopedia of War and Ethics, ed. Donald A. Wells (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 1996), 306.

19. [Back to text]  This article does not address the implications of "smart sanctions," which are those that affect only the military and political leadership, such as the seizure of foreign bank accounts of individual leaders. Obviously such sanctions do not raise any of the same ethical issues. However, the fact that it may be possible to target sanctions in this way does not in any way resolve the ethical problems raised by sanctions which are not "smart," and do affect an economy as a whole.

20. [Back to text]  Drew Christiansen, S.J., and Gerard F. Powers, "Economic Sanctions and Just-War Doctrine," in Economic Sanctions, 102.

21. [Back to text]  Ibid., 101.

22. [Back to text]  Ibid., 103. Interestingly, John C. Scharfen, a military theorist, takes the opposite view in The Dismal Battlefield: Mobilizing for Economic Conflict (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1995): "Economic force produces casualties," he says bluntly. "The collateral damage is almost always indiscriminate," 4. There may be political reasons to use different terms, but, he suggests, that is just a matter of rhetoric. "Economic war implies aggression on the part of those who employ the economic weapon. It is a term favored by the target of that force and those moralists who would class the use of the economic instrument as unscrupulous. Economic sanctions is a milder term and one favored by those employing the instrument," 8.

23. [Back to text]  Christiansen and Powers, "Economic Sanctions and Just-War Doctrine," 103.

24. [Back to text]  "Peaceful, Silent, Deadly Remedy: The Ethics of Economic Sanctions," Ethics and International Affairs 13: 1999.

25. [Back to text]  Christiansen and Powers, "Economic Sanctions and Just-War Doctrine," 107.

26. [Back to text]  Ibid.

27. [Back to text]  John C. Ford, S.J., "The Morality of Obliteration Bombing," in War and Morality, ed. Richard A. Wasserstrom (Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth, 1970), 26.

Copyright of Cross Currents is the property of Association for Religion & Intellectual Life and its content may not be copied without the copyright holder's express written permission except for the print or download capabilities of the retrieval software used for access. This content is intended solely for the use of the individual user. Source: Cross Currents, Fall 1999, Vol. 49 Issue 3.