Yellen: Sanctions Kill Iranians and Don’t Work So Let’s Impose More

Reprinted from Econlib with permission.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Thursday the United States was looking at ways to strengthen its sanctions against Iran, but acknowledged the sanctions had not resulted in the behavioral or policy changes Washington desires from Tehran.

This is from David Lander and Kanishka Singh, “Yellen: Iran’s Actions Not Impacted by Sanctions to the Extent US Would Like,” March 23, 2023.

Lander and Singh continue:

“Our sanctions on Iran have created real economic crisis in the country, and Iran is greatly suffering economically because of the sanctions … Has that forced a change in behavior? The answer is much less than we would ideally like,” Yellen told lawmakers in a hearing on Thursday.

Dave DeCamp writes:

History shows that sanctions do little to change the governments they target but always hurt ordinary people in the targeted country. For example, UN experts said last month that more Iranians are dying from thalassemia, a congenital blood disorder, due to Western sanctions that deprive them of specialized medicines and the ingredients to make them.

Despite the failed policy in Iran, Yellen said the US was looking for ways to strengthen the sanctions even more. The Biden administration has followed the Trump administration’s so-called “maximum pressure campaign” against Iran and has imposed a large number of new sanctions.

This is from Dave DeCamp, “Yellen Says US Sanctions Have Created a ‘Real Economic Crisis’ in Iran,”, March 26, 2023.

DeCamp is right to state, “History shows that sanctions do little to change the governments they target but always hurt ordinary people in the targeted country.” That is the approximate bottom line of Kimberly Ann Elliott, Gary Clyde, Hufbauer, and Barbara Oegg, “Sanctions,” in David R. Henderson, ed., The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics. I’ve also written about sanctions here.

David R. Henderson is a research fellow with the Hoover Institution and an emeritus professor of economics in the Graduate School of Business and Public Policy at the Naval Postgraduate School. He is author of The Joy of Freedom: An Economist’s Odyssey and co-author, with Charles L. Hooper, of Making Great Decisions in Business and Life (Chicago Park Press). His latest book is The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics (Liberty Fund, 2008). He has appeared on The O’Reilly Factor, the Jim Lehrer Newshour, CNN, MSNBC, RT, Fox Business Channel, and C-SPAN. He has had over 100 articles published in Fortune, the Wall Street Journal, Red Herring, Barron’s, National Review, Reason, the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, The Hill, and the Christian Science Monitor. He has also testified before the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Armed Services Committee, and the Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources. He blogs at

43 thoughts on “Yellen: Sanctions Kill Iranians and Don’t Work So Let’s Impose More”

  1. “Our sanctions on Iran have created real economic crisis in the country, and Iran is greatly suffering economically because of the sanctions … Has that forced a change in behavior? The answer is much less than we would ideally like” Yellen told lawmakers in a hearing on Thursday.

    Yes, not enough misery to make them try to overthrow their government. Oh well, says the old hag, let’s do some more. We really do have seemed to have accumulated an abundance of despicable women. Hillary has a lot of competition.

    1. A rotten society produces rotten people. Whether they’re male or female, or which color their skin is, is not affected by this. They say that if there are enough women in a group, the group will make much better decisions about things like war & peace and taking care of people who need it, but that doesn’t apply to individual women.

      1. Maybe only the most ruthless women make it up the ladder. Our political landscape consists of evil people only, morally they are Nazis. Nuland, Clinton and Rice are really as evil and ruthless as any man, maybe even more so.

  2. I’m sure Iran and their new buddies, the Chinese are really worried about the lady (with the bad haircut) sanctions.

    1. U.S. sanctions have done great harm to the people in Iran, as they have to many other people around the world. Your snide comment makes no sense.

      1. The Fascists running China are as evil as anything you imagine the US to be in your little uneducated mind.
        Try cracking a few history books (written by both Marxists and western authors; never accept one side’s view of events as the factual truth)and you might view China a little differently.

        1. The Chinese govern a nation of 1.4 Billion people and have managed to lift 800 million out of poverty in to the middle class in about 30 years while the wealthiest nation, the USA, a nation of some 300 million people managed to shrink the working middle class, pushing people down into poverty in about 40 years.
          Almost 20% of the US GDP is in the health care industry and yet, many Americans can’t afford health care and many have to file for bankruptcy because of the costs in cases of serious illness.

          1. To state just one example. Then there’s the body count, the true measure of a country’s level of evil that relates to other countries. Guess who wins that one?

          2. I used to believe that Hitler was one of a kind, not anymore, now I lived long enough to know better. He has plenty of company, maybe hell is not big enough to take in all of them.

          3. You’ve drank the Kool aid?
            The great leap forward was just in the past and that prison nation has been just sweet to the slave labor force ever since…
            Those African mines all have free medical care for the child slaves don’t they?
            Free medical is not what China is known for…..

          4. By “prison nation,” I assume you mean the U.S.? You do know that the U.S. has the most people in prison per capita in the world by far, don’t you? Less than 5% of the world’s population, but around 25% of its prisoners. Do you know that even though there are about 4 times more people in China than in the U.S., the U.S. has more people in prison?

          5. I served time in max and that is not a Chinese slave labor camp.
            Honestly you need to read something other than comic books and blogs.

        2. Wow, ethnocentric much? I don’t give a damn what white people think of China. You don’t at all understand their culture nor their attitude toward life. You think that just because you read a few boring history books written by white people about a culture they don’t understand that you know something I don’t. Tell me, what exactly do you know about Buddhism? Or about the concept of oneness in how it affects the issue of whether to favor society or the individual?

          Furthermore, this is not a contest about which people are more evil. The issue is about which country is more evil, and the U.S. wins hands down.

          1. Do you prefer your Kool aid with ice?
            Killing off Muslims in the camps is just swell to you just as long as your sneakers are cheap?
            They aren’t Buddhists so it’s OK?
            I’m pretty sure the fascists who call themselves Communist in China are not practicing Buddhists so why bring that up?
            Those kids in China’s Africa mines just love the Chinese don’t they because while the work might kill them, they are eating because with their new colonial overlords, you work if you want to eat (see NoKo) but it’s OK to you.
            Honestly your love of China only can come from someone who never lived there, perhaps visited for a month or two or merely met a few folks from there.

          2. Says someone who lives in a country with legalized slavery (prison labor). Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!

            And please stop lying about me. I’ve said numerous times, including in responses to you, that I oppose all large countries, which by definition includes China. You’re clearly not capable of (or don’t want to) thinking clearly and logically about this or recognizing any nuance. My identification of the U.S. as the evil empire and the most dominant empire on the planet by far means to you that I love every other country, which is not at all what it means. I refuse to comment about what China does internally, because most if not all of what we get here is propaganda. The Uighur situation is not as simple as you think it is; this group has committed terrorist acts, and it’s far from being innocent.

          3. Once again a prison job is not slave labor.
            Only a kid who has never done time would believe such nonsence.
            Lying about you?
            You believe some stranger on the net is lying about you….
            I’ll leave that one alone, it is not my responsibility to decide when you like the Fascist Corporation called China and when you don’t.
            But honestly if you can’t call what the Muslims are going through in China as inhuman evilness that I really wonder why you even care about anything.
            Also Jeffrey, you do not need to read the Western press to learn about China.
            I was reading a paper written by a couple of Egyptians who were doing the “on the one hand” then, “but on the other” while discussing China’s neocolonialism in North Africa a couple of days ago (Egypt was their main focus). They certainly were not coming from the “Western”perspective and despite China meeting quite a few of the “criteria” they could not bring themselves to make a hard judgement either way….academics…..
            BRICS is a huge emerging topic that is about Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa’s economic bloc. It’s recently became larger that the G7 and will soon hold a meeting in S. Africa to discuss among other things a new currency to be un competition with the dollar. Mexico is interested in joining and is said to be there.
            Every one of those nations has press that is not western centric but report on China as well as their immediate neighbors who have different perspectives.
            You can read sources from all over the world not just your boogyman Western press.
            There are quite a few countries in Africa that offer English language editions that I’m sure you would love some of their Communist leanings and hate some of the others.
            In fact the only way to get a well rounded perspective is to avoid getting all your news from the West. Not all foreign publications are CIA fronts, just some and definately you need to even read Chinese government publications and do the Solzhenitsyn read-between-the-lines stuff too then research that.

          4. “Once again a prison job is not slave labor.”

            If it’s a compelled prison job, it’s by definition slave labor (and specifically provided for in the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution).

            It’s very odd to see a former slave defending slavery as not being slavery, though. Stockholm Syndrome much?

          5. Tom, spend some time in prison and you’ll understand how foolish you are.
            You are once again playing word games while I can speak from years of experience.

          6. Words mean things.

            For some reason I don’t understand, you want a particular word to not mean what it means. But it still means what it means. You don’t have to like it. It means what it means whether you like it or not.

          7. OK, every person in a prison every where in the world is a slave…..
            Quite honestly your inabilty to understand the concept of a person incarcerated who has their Rights restricted is not the same as an innocent party in servitute as a slave to another, is cute but honestly you are not worth the conversation.
            Go play with someone else that cares……

          8. “OK, every person in a prison every where in the world is a slave.”

            No, every person in a prison everywhere in the world who is required to work on pain of punishment for refusal is a slave.

            That’s what slavery is: Being forced to work.

          9. Your idea of “punishment” is less yard time and lousy accomendations in a cell block with the idiots; what a joke.
            Give me one with people doing all day instead.
            Calmer, quiter and people to whom it is home and everyone else are just visitors including the COs.
            As if that is not the way most prison systems anywhere, that are half way modern, operate.
            You are just a clown trying to equate inmates with actual slaves.
            And not even a very well read one….that is where your expertise comes from isn’t it?

          10. Yes, most modern prison systems are also slave pens.

            An ability to read and interpret words in plain English isn’t really “expertise” as such.

            Nor is an attempt to redefine words to exclude their plain meanings.

          11. Bla bla bla
            Who cares what your silly definitions demand?
            As if your moderator hat gives you the power to demand we obey your silly definitions.
            Lol Lol Lol
            Should we add “word definition police” to your moderator duties too?
            Could you also police spelling too?
            I bet you’d excel at that…..

          12. In what universe have I “demanded” anything from you?

            Me noticing that you babble like an idiot whenever you don’t want words to mean what they mean is just me noticing that you babble like an idiot whenever you don’t want words to mean what they mean. I’m not interested in trying to stop you from doing so, and I’d be free to notice it whether I was a moderator or not.

          13. Who cares?
            Honestly you need to get a life.
            This forum is about war not about your insistance about slavery vs. inmates definitions.
            Go away…..
            You rarely offer anything to conversations.

          14. You rarely have anything to worthwhile to contribute ( such as this inane argument you are so wedded to, as if it matters) so that will be easy.

          15. I’ve seen American journalists who’ve lived in China interviewed quite extensively on these issues, and I’ll believe them over what any foreign press says about China. If you want to be a cheerleader for your evil empire, I guess hating China is part of that cheerleading.

          16. American journalists?
            Are you kidding?
            Who reads American news sources exclusivey?
            Is that why you have such problems with grasping the concept that China is just as evil as the West is?
            Try reading the foreign press and foreign academic writings.

          17. These are not mainstream/corporate/establishment propagandists, these are real journalists.

          18. If you are referring to my suggestions to read the foreign press (always be aware just because it’s “foreign” you never trust it; read their opposition press too ;-) then I agree.

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