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Under the Trump administration, the United States has withdrawn from so many international agreements, broken with so many precedents and angered so many allies that it can be difficult to cut through all the noise. But one particular approach could irreparably damage America’s superpower status: its promiscuous use and abuse of sanctions.
Currently, the United States has more than 8,000 sanctions in place against individuals, companies and countries. While the United States has used sanctions for decades, they have proliferated dramatically in recent years, especially under President Trump. He has instituted more than twice as many sanctions per year as his two predecessors, including 700 on a single day in 2018 (on Iran). Sanctions against countries such as Iran and Venezuela are so broad that they prompted U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet to warn that they are putting health-care systems at risk of collapse and endangering the lives of millions of ordinary people.