Joy Gordon has made a major contribution to both the ethical analysis and the policy evaluation of economic sanctions. But her claims against sanctions should be understood as critique rather than condemnation and rejection of sanctions on ethical grounds.
Through a series of arguments and examples, this response points out that Gordon may be too narrow in defining sanctions' success, and that, where sanctions have gone awry, it is because they were unimaginatively formulated and poorly implemented, not because sanctions are categorically unethical. Multilateral sanctions in the late 1990s are simply more finely tuned than a few years ago. As a technique of coercive diplomacy, sanctions are meant to change dramatically the costs and benefits that leaders of a nation calculate operate in their favor as they pursue policies that the majority of the international community have declared abhorrent. We can, with the help of Gordon's critical claims, accomplish this goal in a more ethical manner, and by so doing, increase the likely success of sanctions in the future.