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The New Art of Economic Warfare

Western governments need to use all the data and information available to them to analyze the efficacy of their unprecedented sanctions against Russia. Whatever the outcome, it is already clear that the world needs to introduce some rules to govern such nonviolent weapons before the next great-power conflict erupts.

NEW YORK – The use of economic weapons during war has a long history. But the rise of globalization and cross-border supply chains has given these nonviolent munitions unprecedented power. While economic and financial sanctions may not strike with the immediacy of an artillery shell, their impact can nonetheless be devastating.

Economic warfare in a globalized world is so novel that we do not yet fully understand it, and few rules regulate it. There is no well-defined list of punitive instruments, much less credible estimates of the direct and collateral damage each is likely to cause.

So, when Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine, Western policymakers were suddenly confronted with quandaries for which they were not prepared. US President Joe Biden’s administration and America’s NATO allies rightly decided to contain Putin and prevent the war from escalating into a nuclear conflict, by using sanctions instead of troops.

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