Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. Wally Bacon


Throughout history, military and economic powers have used economic sanctions, blockades and boycotts as parts of their policies against other countries for many reasons. The United States is no exception. The United States uses economic sanctions as a foreign policy tool to pressure other countries for human rights violations, nuclear proliferation and aggressions and international terrorism. There is an assumption that economic sanctions imposed by the United States will become more and more effective because the United States has become more and more economically and militarily powerful after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The United States is a sole global power both militarily and economically. The effectiveness of sanctions, however, cannot be measure by regime or behavior change of a target country. It is naive to believe that regime or behavior change of a regime can take place just because of American foreign policy. There are many instances in the past where American diplomatic actions failed to change the behavior of a regime. There are also many examples in the past where American military actions, especially military intervention in Vietnam, failed to produce behavior or a regime changes. There are many cases of economic sanctions that failed to produce behavior change of a regime. The imposition of economic sanctions, in one form or another, as an instrument of foreign policy developed over centuries. There are many good reasons why economic sanctions, in one form or another, such as blockades, boycotts and sieges, developed over centuries, and why some powerful countries are still using those as foreign policy tool. Economic sanctions are important and essential parts of effective and complex foreign policy. American foreign policy will be as simple as black and white and as weak as a paper tiger without economic sanctions. This thesis attempts to explain why economic sanctions are essential parts of American foreign policy. This thesis also examines arguments and counter-arguments regarding economic sanctions.


A Thesis Presented to the Department of Political Science and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Science University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright Win K. Oo December, 2002