Political despots have typically decried the harmful social impacts of sanctions, while scofﬁng at their political impact.
In the case of Zimbabwe, however, the reverse may be true. Precision-guided sanctions that lock down the money and prevent the travel of a few hundred ofﬁcials will not cause humanitarian hardship, but they may result in substantial political gain. Certainly this is what the coalition proposing them intends.
The record of recent cases suggests that targeted sanctions have considerable potential. Although the humanitarian ordeal in Iraq clouds the public impression, that case is the exception rather than the rule.