Strategic Embargo in Perspective

Once and a while I like to take a journal article that I came across and analyze it and discuss it for everyone to be able to read about. Lately, I have done research on embargoes and the current journal article that I am going over is “Strategic Embargo in Perspective” by J. Wilczynski published in the Soviet Studies Vol. 19, No. 1.

To begin, this paper focuses on the Soviet Bloc and the use of embargoes. Now this paper was written in 1967 so it is trying to evaluate the current situation. As we know the U.S. embargoed Berlin in 1948 and we are still embargoing Cuba to this day. It was believed that the embargoes were going to hurt their economies more than the U.S.’s because our economy was far superior. They believed the Soviet Bloc needed western goods in order to better there living standards and keep their control.

The U.S. tried to look at the Soviet Bloc vulnerability in trying to decide if this would work. Some of these were looking at natural resources, economic structure, and patterns of trade. So the true question is what was the effect of this embargo?

It was found that between 1947 and 1953 the Soviet Bloc imports from capitalist countries fell from $900m to $450m. Capitalist countries went from importing 25% from these Soviet countries to 7%. The author then makes the claim that the imports are more important to the Soviet Bloc than to Capitalistic nations. The problem with measuring this, he claims, is that the east and west did not trade that much before this. Before the Cold War it was about 4.5% of the world’s trade.

He also goes on to explain that a large bloc of countries can be less vulnerable than a single country. As I believe this to be more true than false it depends upon the bloc of countries. It would be different if Mexico, USA, and Canada was a bloc then say France, Belgium and Spain. He then brings up an important point in which an embargo will cause the main country like China or the USSR to gain more power as the surrounding countries would become more dependent on them. He also explains that a problem is to get all the capitalist countries to stick to the same principles. They often try to deal with different priorities or abandon the embargo all together.

So after reading this summary of this journal article, you might be asking why did I write about this at all? This is because we constantly put economic sanctions on countries when they do not do what we want. We tried that in the Soviet Union but after a while we started to trade with them. It was partly due to trade that began to open up to the Soviet Union.

I believe that countries trading with each other is good for peace. It is very hard for someone to want to shoot their customers. At the same time, people who trade will trade ideas. It is most important to remember that this is usually private companies trading with private companies. In some cases they are state owned but you are still dealing with an individual. If we choose to embargo a country, you only hurt yourself the same if not more than the other country. You and that country will then scramble to substitute resources.

Should we remove the embargo with Cuba? I think it is time. We thought that after the USSR failed and was no longer the support system for Cuba, that it too would fail. We were wrong so we should try to spread peace through trade.


Published in: on December 2, 2008 at 12:39 pm  Leave a Comment  
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