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Gregg: How do we determine the morality of economic sanctions?




Russia and individual Russians have been hard hit by sanctions imposed by nations around the world, all intended to deter Vladimir Putin from pursuing his illegal war in Ukraine. But what moral principles should guide our decisions about whether to impose sanctions and the form they take?

By Samuel Gregg - 

Are economic sanctions morally permissible? That question has been asked by many people since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the imposition of a range of economic sanctions on Russian entities and individuals by the United States, most European nations, and many other countries.

People’s answers, I have discovered, don’t neatly track right-left divisions. I have met conservatives and progressives who fiercely oppose the use of economic sanctions in principle or in particular cases, as well as progressives and conservatives who favor them in specific instances.



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  1. The author states, “By prudence I don’t have in mind realpolitik, pragmatism, or cautiousness”
    Emphatically disagree.
    What have the US sanctions accomplished?
    (i) The US has telegraphed to the world our “China invades Taiwan” playbook. The US seized over 600B in Russian dollar on deposit at the US Fed. China knows this. China has over 1.2T dollars (result of its predatory mercantilism) at the Fed. How much longer before China begins to transfers those dollars into another currency?
    (ii) A few years ago, China and India were killing each others soldiers. Today, China and India are closer than they have been in decades.
    (iii) Sanctions have directly lead to a HUGE increase in the price of gasoline. This is a REGRESSIVE tax hike negatively impacting our working-class.
    What Russia has done to Ukraine is tragic.
    If China invades Taiwan, our country become a defacto second-class nation.
    And today, thanks to the US sanctions, China is more likely to do so than it was even a year ago

  2. What right do we have to steal? Nato should be dissolved, and Russia should be a part of the European Union. Putin may have just saved Europe all the Ukrainian refugees will solve their labor problems and force them to limit immigration from the Middle East and Africa.