Funktionieren Wirtschaftssanktionen?

CAMBRIDGE – Angesichts der westlichen Wirtschaftssanktionen gegen Russland, den Iran und Kuba, die derzeit das Nachrichtengeschehen mitbestimmen, ist dies ein guter Zeitpunkt für eine Bestandsaufnahme der Debatte, wie gut derartige Maßnahmen funktionieren. Kurz gesagt: Wirtschaftssanktionen haben oft nur bescheidene Wirkung, auch wenn sie ein wichtiges Mittel sein können, moralische Entschlossenheit zu demonstrieren. Wenn Wirtschaftssanktionen in der internationalen Politik des 21. Jahrhunderts eine wichtigere Rolle spielen sollen, könnte es lohnen, darüber nachzudenken, wie sie in der Vergangenheit funktioniert haben.

Wie Gary Hufbauer und Jeffrey Schott in ihrem klassischen Werk zu diesem Thema feststellen, reicht die Geschichte der Wirtschaftssanktionen mindestens bis ins Jahr 432 v. Chr. zurück. Damals erlies der griechische Staatsmann und General Perikles in Reaktion auf die Entführung dreier Frauen aus dem Haus der Aspasia das sogenannte „megarische Edikt“. In modernen Zeiten haben die USA zu verschiedenen Zwecken Wirtschaftssanktionen eingesetzt; diese reichten von Bemühungen der Regierung Carter zur Förderung der Menschenrechte in den 1970er Jahren bis zu Versuchen in den 1980er Jahren, die Verbreitung von Nuklearwaffen zu behindern.

Während des Kalten Krieges setzten die USA zudem Wirtschaftssanktionen ein, um ihnen unfreundlich gesinnte Regierungen insbesondere in Lateinamerika zu destabilisieren. Allerdings scheinen diese Sanktionen nur eine untergeordnete Rolle gespielt zu haben, und zwar selbst dort, wo es letztlich zu einem Regimewechsel kam. Die Wirtschaftssanktionen gegenüber Serbien schreckten dieses jedenfalls eindeutig nicht von der Invasion in Bosnien ab. Die symbolische Bestrafung der Schachlegende Bobby Fischer (wegen eines Wettkampfs, den dieser unter Verstoß gegen die Sanktionen in Belgrad gespielt hatte) war für das belagerte Sarajevo keine Hilfe.

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