Friday, March 24, 2006

On the Possiblity of Sanctions

In the spirit of my new policy of lazy blogging if someone else has said something well, I won't bother duplicating efforts:

Sanctions won't make anybody's life better.

Speaking of sanctions, I think isolation would be the worst thing right now for Belarus. Ban on officials' travel is unimportant, it doesn't change much. But if the few Western companies doing business in Belarus are forced to leave, it will make things worse for ordinary Belarusians, especially those who want change, because they are more likely to be involved with such firms, whether as customers, or suppliers, or partners.

If anything, the West should engage Belarus as much as possible. Isolation would make Belarus more like North Korea.

Ivan Lenin at Russian Mushroom - who, by the way, has become for this Belarussian situation what Discoshaman at Le Sabot Post-Moderne was during the Orange Revolution. Hopefully he won' go AWOL as Disco has. Ivan, if you're in Philly I owe you a steak dinner. Seriously.

He is 100% right about sanctions. They are more than just ineffective. They are counterproductive. If you want to help Lukashenko stay in power indefinitely. If you want to ensure that he acchieves the greatest possible level of repressive authoritarianism, then initiate sanctions. The road to change in Belarus is through economic independence and technological advancement. The small resistance that we saw was due largely to the proliferation of cell phones and the internet. Products of economic development. Also, what support Lukashenko has is largely reliant on a narrow dependence on Russia. Sanctions will only exacerbate this situation. Cuba and North Korea are the clearest examples of the "results" that sanctions acchieve. To create this sort of national prison of Belarus would be a tragedy.

As I go to bed tonight, the 25th will be dawning in Belarus. The anniversary of the declaration of the first Belarussian republic. (which evidently lasted at least 15 minutes, but nevermind...) This "Independence Day" has become an occasion to rally for the opposition. Last year on this day, Lukashenko sent his goons in to bust heads. Milinkevich has called for a rally on Oktbraskaya Pl., scene of the police action last night. We'll see how that goes.


Blogger Ivan Lenin said...

Thanks, Rox!
And don't be surprised when I take you up on that steak offer. I'm very carnivorous.

8:34 AM  

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