What Kinds of Sanctions Does the President Use? Domestic Constraints and Incentives

  • A. Cooper Drury
Part of the Advances in Foreign Policy Analysis book series (AFPA)


Thus far, I have shown that economic sanction decisions are largely driven by international factors, although some domestic political considerations and cognitive constraints do play a part in the president’s decision. In almost every estimation of the theoretical models, the tension level between the United States and the target/country had the biggest, positive impact on the likelihood that the White House would initiate economic coercion. The analysis also shows that the target can often deter the president from using economic sanctions by being belligerent and provocative. U.S. economic factors also influence the decision process, but they tend to have less of an impact. Poor economic conditions in the United States generally constrain the president from using economic coercion, while a large trade surplus is associated with sanction use. Finally, the president’s beliefs tend to color his decisions such that less cooperatively oriented presidents tend to use sanctions more often. While the White House does tend to sanction Latin American countries more during the Cold War and sanction democracies less after it, the results paint a rather clear picture of how the president uses economic sanctions.


Prospect Theory Trade Balance Approval Rating Trade Surplus Domestic Politics 
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© A. Cooper Drury 2005

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  • A. Cooper Drury

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