Updated Mar 24, 2022

How does the USA put sanctions on other countries but other countries can't do the same?

How does the US put sanctions on other countries & other countries cannot?


What are Economic Sanctions?


In terms of international policy, economic sanctions are the suspension of normal commercial and financial contacts between two countries. The long-standing US embargo on Cuba is an example of broad sanctions limiting any economic activity in respect to the country as a whole. On the other hand, sanctions may be narrowly targeted, prohibiting only transactions with and between certain companies, organisations, or individuals.


When are Sanctions used?


United Nations have used economic sanctions to compel, penalise or humiliate those that jeopardise their interests or defy international rules of conduct. As a type of intervention, sanctions are often seen as a more cost-effective and less risky alternative to diplomacy or conflict. The use of sanctions in response to international crises may be considered when the national interest is less important or when military involvement is not feasible or feasible. Punishment has been imposed on occasion by leaders while they consider more severe measures. Even after Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait in 1990, the United Nations Security Council had imposed extensive sanctions on Iraq only four days before the United Nations General Assembly. It wasn't until many months later that the Security Council gave the approval to employ armed action.


What is the Sanction process in the USA?


More than any other nation, the United States employs sanctions on the economy and financial sector. Both the executive and legislative branches of government have the authority to implement sanctions. "Unusual and Exceptional" external threats like "the spread of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons" or "the acts and policies of the Government of the Russian Federation with regard to Ukraine" are often the triggers for an executive order declaring a national emergency. Unless extended or terminated by both the houses of Congress, the president has unique powers to regulate trade with relation to that danger for one year.


Even though Congress put a time limit on them in 1976, President Jimmy Carter's 1979 order to proclaim a state of emergency with relation to Iran is still in force today. It is possible to impose new punishments or amend existing ones through legislation passed by Congress, as it has done on numerous occasions. Congress and the president may be necessary to change or remove limitations imposed by several legal entities, such as Cuba and Iran. Sanctions policy is an area of disagreement between the two branches. With the passage of a bill in 2017, Congress enacted and President Trump grudgingly signed into law fresh penalties against Russia for meddling in the 2016 US presidential elections. With veto-proof majorities, the law limiting Trump's power to waive Russia sanctions passed.


“The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control” oversees the country's more than two dozen sanction programmes, although the departments of State, Commerce, may also play a role. If the secretary of state  chooses, terrorist organisations may be designated and nations can be named as state sponsors of terrorism, both of which entail serious consequences. New York's state and municipal agencies, in particular, may help with enforcement efforts as well.


Over a dozen more programmes targeted people and organisations linked to specific political crises or alleged criminal activity like narcotics trafficking, which the United States had in place by the end of 2019. OFAC's blacklist of more than 6,000 persons, corporations, and associations is constantly updated. U.S. people, including U.S. corporations and their overseas subsidiaries, are prohibited from engaging in transactions with the individuals and entities on the "blacklist." OFAC has identified many high-ranking Cuban, Myanmarese, Nicaraguan, and Venezuelan officials and companies under President Trump's administration. The SDN list has also lately been criticised for deleting numerous Russian billionaires' enterprises from the list of SDNs.




Sanctions may assist the United States of America to achieve short-term goals, but they can also put the country at danger of long-term financial debt, according to some experts. Former Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew and former State Department official Richard Nephew write in their book that "today, the government often gets its way because there is no alternative to the dollar and no export market as enticing as the United States. It's possible that other nations may distance themselves from the US economy and financial system in the next 20 to 30 years if we keep putting pressure on them to embrace policies that are both illegal and unreasonable.

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