This study examines the efficacy of economic sanctions in shortening the length of time dictators stay in power. Using a framework set forth by Ronald Wintrobe, dictators were characterized into four different types, tinpots, tyrants, totalitarians, and timocrats, so that sanction efficacy among different types of dictators could be examined. The study used data of all sanctions between 1914-2007, determining which involved dictators and what type of dictator was involved. Results suggests that political stability in the country prior to sanctions imposition, international cooperation in imposing sanctions, as well as the prior relationship between the two countries all significantly affect the length of time dictators remain in power. An interesting finding is that the United States being the imposing country is not a significant deterrent to dictators remaining in power, while sanctions sent by an international organization are. A main finding is that political variables, such as those mentioned above, rather than the economic costs or effects of sanctions, more significantly impact dictators ability to remain in power. Conclusions reached are that sanctions are most useful against dictators when the country imposing the sanction has a prior relationship with the target country, and that sanctions should focus less on an economic impact the sanctions will create, and more on the political pressure sanctions enforce.
Kathy Kelly, activist, author, teacher at Chicago area colleges, and current founder of Voices for Creative Nonviolence discusses Iraqi sanctions. As a founder of Voices in the Wilderness, she has taken more than 70 delegations to Iraq, attempting to end U.N./U.S. sanctions. Part of Notable Lectures & Performances series, Colorado College. Recorded March 8, 2006.