Economic Sanctions and Autocratic Repression
Economic sanctions have become a popular tool in influencing another countries actions in the last half century. While the effectiveness of sanctions is hotly debated, they still remain a common foreign policy measure. As such they are seen by many as an alternative to forceful intervention. However, as this paper suggests, the imposition of sanctions runs the risk of greater repressive measures in an autocratic regime. Two possible reasons for increased repression come to mind. The first is the potential that deteriorating economic conditions will lead to civil discontent forcing the regime to act more forcefully. The second, borrowing from the conditionality literature, is that sanctions give the regime an excuse for the need to exercise more power in light of foreign aggression. By using panel data from 1970-2000 to estimate the effect economic sanctions have on Political Terror, I will argue that sanctions have a negative impact on state repression. Specifically that economic sanctions increase political terror in autocratic countries by 3.5% for every year a sanction is imposed. Thus, in many cases the imposition of sanctions achieves the opposite of the intended goal. Furthermore, this papers finding suggests that sanctions must be tailored and targeted according to conditions of the targeted country.
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