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U.S. Economic Sanctions on Cuba, Iran & Libya: Helms-Burton and the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act

M. Jean Anderson, International Resources Law: Today's Oil, Gas, and Mining Projects (1997)

Although the economic sanctions imposed on Cuba, Iran, and Libya lately have received a great deal of attention, both in the United States and abroad, these sanctions are only the latest examples of a post-World-War trend to use U.S. economic power to achieve diplomatic ends. Since President Roosevelt responded to Japanese aggression in Asia during the late 1930's by imposing unilateral sanctions on oil and scrap metal shipments to Japan, the United States has enacted more than seventy economic sanctions, with targets ranging from the Soviet Union to North Vietnam to Serbia, for reasons ranging from the prosecution of the cold war to the sponsorship of terrorism.

Some of these sanction regimes are widely credited with achieving their stated goals, but the greatest sanctions success stories occurred immediately following World War II, when U.S. economic power was unparalleled. Forty years later, the United States shares the economic stage with others in a globalized economy, and the cold war is a fading memory. These factors have made it more difficult for the United States to maintain effective sanctions. For example, when President Carter attempted to embargo grain sales to the Soviet Union in 1980, U.S. allies broke ranks and sold the Soviets grain, leading to the loss of U.S. exports without any tangible pressure on the Soviets to withdraw from Afghanistan. Although