Thursday, December 02, 2010

North Korea sanctions

This is why sanctions are a bad idea:
After hearing complaints from factory managers and state economic planners, the scholar said any potential reform of the hyper-socialist economy in North Korea was being hamstrung by a range of sanctions by the United Nations, the United States and other nations. Most of the sanctions have been imposed over the North’s refusal to abandon its nuclear programs.

The foreigner living in Pyongyang also saw the bark and the bite of sanctions among North Koreans.

“Sanctions have not changed behaviors of the elite, nor have they stopped the flow of luxury goods or cars to Pyongyang,” the foreigner said. “But for ordinary people, they have so very little to work with — tools, running water, medicines in clinics. Imports of any kind are just absent.”

The foreigner said political isolation had been effective in shutting off North Koreans to most international commerce, from material goods to cultural influences to political ideas.

“In some ways,” the foreigner said, “people here are so used to being without — without stuff, without validation, without contact to the outside world, without a set of standards about how things happen — that sanctions and isolation are normal. They feed a sense of victimhood, or at least underdog-ness, that justifies both the regime and attacks like the one we’ve just seen. 
Sanctions, which are typically targeted at authoritarian regimes, almost invariably hurt the citizenry while sparing the elites, who are always the last to suffer. We do ourselves no favors by impoverishing the people and cutting them off from outside commerce and ideas, which only make serve to make them more dependent on the government.

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