Colleges Select U.S. Sanctions Policy

Tuesday, 9 November 1999

"The selection of sanctions as the college debate topic illustrates a widespread recognition that there is a real problem in the way the U.S. utilizes unilateral sanctions," said Frank Kittredge, President of the National Foreign Trade Council and Vice Chairman of USA*ENGAGE. "We are pleased that the academic community recognizes the importance of the sanctions issue. It's disappointing, however, that we seem to have better luck opening a debate on the issue with college students than among some of our federal policymakers." Kittredge was referring to the unsuccessful efforts of many lawmakers to bring sanctions reform legislation to the floor of either the House or Senate in 1999.

The National Debate Tournament, a U.S. college institution since 1947, is managed by the American Forensic Association, the national professional organization of forensics educators.

"The selection of sanctions as the national debate topic explains the significant surge of hits the USA*ENGAGE web site ( has received from colleges and universities across the country in recent months. The college debaters have undoubtedly found the site to be a wealth of factual information on the dismal record of U.S. sanctions policy," Kittredge continued, noting that the web site received 112,084 hits during the month of October.

"We've actually been contacted by students looking to defend the use of sanctions, but who have been unable to find any significant evidence to refute what history has already proven: unilateral sanctions are ineffective, counterproductive and costly," he said. "These students have our sympathy, as we too recognize that the intellectual argument in favor of sanctions is a tough one to make."

USA*ENGAGE is a coalition of 670 small and large businesses, agriculture groups and trade associations working to seek alternatives to the proliferation of unilateral U.S. foreign policy sanctions and to promote the benefits of U.S. engagement abroad.