Anti-Imperialism/Foreign Policy

Sanctions Are War By Other Means

May 14, 2023

by James Corbett
May 14, 2023

Were you aware that nearly one-third of the planet is under economic sanctions of one sort or another?

No? Why not? Even those who don’t pay much attention to the nexus between geopolitics and economics are likely to find that to be a shocking statistic. For those who do pay attention to that nexus it’s even more shocking because they know that economic sanctions are not just some abstract economic concept. Quite the contrary.

Imposing sanctions on a country is a way of waging war against that country. It’s not just that economic embargoes can cripple nations’ economies nor that they tend to disproportionately affect innocent civilians. No, the reality is even more stark than that: sanctions kill.

Don’t believe me? Let’s look at some of the examples of how sanctions have been used throughout history as a tool of warfare.

German Starvation Blockade

In The Economic Weapon: The Rise of Sanctions as a Tool of Modern War, Nicholas Mulder traces the modern-day use of sanctions as a weapon of warfare back to its roots. And, for those of you who have seen The WWI Conspiracy and fully appreciated my observation that “WWI was an explosion, a breaking point in history,” it will not be surprising to learn that those roots go back to the so-called “Great War.”

Specifically, Mulder recounts how the Great Naval Blockade of Europe by the British during the First World War and the subsequent starvation blockade of Germany after the supposed end of that war led to the development of the “economic weapon” of sanctions (or “l’arme économique,” as the League of Nations came to call it) in the post-WWI era.


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