This work tests the assumption that economic globalization and the decline of US hegemony give overseas corporate behaviour a free reign in defying US imposed sanctions abroad. It examines the use of sanctions from the Cold War through the sanctions decade of the 1990s, including the Helms-Burton Law and the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act. On the one hand, the text shows that multinationals are often susceptible to US influence because they fear political fallout. At the same time, it shows that even though the use of sanctions has been widely promoted by interest groups, Congress, and the general public, the effect of sanctions has fallen short on many counts. Especially when it comes to preventing economically significant transactions with proscribed nations by key multinational corporations, sanctions are shown to be weak and costly measures that damage diplomatic relations.
Kenneth A. Rodman is the William R. Cotter Distinguished Teaching Professor of Government at Colby College.