Matthew A. Baum

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Public Opinion and the Domestic Politics of Legislative Trade Sanctions


Scholars have long pondered how and when economic sanctions are effective.   Nations impose economic sanctions for reasons of both policy and politics.   Sanctions may serve policy goals, by pressuring a target state to pursue policies preferred by the sanctioning state(s).   And sometimes sanctions are indeed designed to maximize their capacity to induce a change in the target state's behavior.   Yet, while analysts have now recognized the influence of domestic economic interests on trade sanctions, how they are perceived and when they are demanded by the populace has been largely ignored. In fact, sanctions can also serve politicians' domestic political goals.   And sometimes they are designed primarily to gain political capital at home.   This paper builds upon previous research by Baum, Hiscox and O'Mahony (2001), who argue find that one important determinant of the incidence and composition of trade sanctions is the domestic salience of the issue(s) involved.   The previous paper focused primarily upon the presidential decision to initiate an executive sanction. In this paper we turn our attention to the interaction of domestic public attentiveness and domestic economic interests in the composition of legislative sanctions proposals.   We develop a model of the congressional decision to propose comprehensive trade sections. The model yields a series of hypotheses concerning when and how public salience will influence legislative trade sanctions. We test our hypotheses against all legislative U.S. sanction proposals between 1971 and 1998.


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