Joe Biden waging war In the past few months, in recent months, the Biden administration repeatedly proclaimed its
“unprecedented restrictions” towards Russia and praised their impact. In a press conference
held at April’s end, President Joe Biden said that the sanctions “are damaging their economy as
well as their capacity to progress.”
Sanctions even before the war in Ukraine are now one of the United States’ go-to methods to
establish its supremacy throughout the world. In the last twenty years alone, Washington has
used sanctions to pursue the financial assets of the terrorist groups or drug dealers as well as
drug dealers and has also taken far-reaching measures to block the economies of entire
nations. The US is, in a nutshell, has been engaged in its battle for foreign policies with
The experts of a small number mostly lawyers and economists, designed Biden’s Russia
sanctions which are now deeper and more expansive than the previous administration’s. In the
Treasury, the Deputy Secretary Wally Adeyemo and Assistant Secretary Liz Rosenberg; at the
White House, Daleep Singh and Peter Harrell.
Biden’s sanctions team is comprised of technocrats that have been featured in the media and
applauded for their speedy multilateral approach. They worked with Obama’s administration, and, later, outside of their government in the Trump times, they made policy documents thinking
about the ways that sanctions could be improved.
Today, they view themselves as applying lessons that they have learned. It’s not a secret that
the administration of the Biden administration was successful in bringing international partners
in support of sanctions against Russia immediately following the events of its incursion into
Ukraine. However, little focus has been given to the reason why sanctions are now the weapon
of choice for this particular group, and how effective the sanctions may prove to be.
Both parties’ leaders have transformed sanctions into an instrument for the foreign policy of “first
choice,” according to Biden’s Treasury Department’s policy review that was released last fall.
Sanctions have grown by 933 percent between 2000 and 2021, and both Democratic, as well as
Republican presidents, have been employed to justify military strategies for asserting US power
Trump has imposed 3800 new sanctions and Obama 2350 during their second terms.
Presidents are granted an unfettered power to impose sanctions. Previous administrations have
utilized sanctions to ruin the economy of Venezuela as well as the economy of the Iranian
economy. They’ve also targeted the riches of officials responsible for human rights and political
crises that have occurred in Nicaragua, Myanmar, and other countries frequently with no
oversight from Congress and no public transparency about the consequences.
One former Trump Treasury official said that when they were with other officials from the federal
government in the midst of a crisis the meetings would usually be like this the State Department
didn’t want to perform any action, while they didn’t want to do anything, and the Defense
Department didn’t want to make any decisions. The table would look at the Treasury people and
say, “Do something,” or, “Well, can we be able to sanction us?” (The official requested
anonymity in order to candidly discuss his former coworkers.)
However, an economy of the size of Russia’s, the world’s 11th biggest the world has never been
so thoroughly sanctioned. The decision to target a central bank this large and the connections of
a major economy to global banking systems as well as a variety of other sectors is truly unheard
of. The fact that an economy of this size can result in unintended consequences on Russia as
well as the US and around the world.
Russia is one of the largest energy exporters, and the cost of energy is increasing, which is
sending inflation higher. Russia also exports substantial amounts of cereals, cooking oils, and
fertilizer. Therefore, imposing sanctions on the country including carve-outs or waivers to help
with humanitarian needs could be devastating for vulnerable people in countries with poor
populations. The United Nations says that economic sanctions will affect Russian as well as
Ukrainian food production and this is further aggravated by the conflict and the blockade by
Russia of Ukrainian ports. One possibility, according to the UN says, is that “the worldwide
number of hungry people could rise by between 8 and 13 million people in 2022/23.”
It’s not easy to explain these kinds of third-fourth. In fact, in the fall of last year, the Treasury
The Department’s own examination of US sanctions policy warned of the consequences of these
sanctions. In the worst-case scenario, the sanctions imposed by the West’s Russia restrictions
could result in widespread turmoil.
Since it’s not feasible to it is unwise for the US or its allies to deploy troops to Ukraine and it’s
even more difficult to ask the US to not do anything at all. Sanctions might be the least bad
alternative. However, the recognition that sanctions are an indisputable instrument of goodwill
by Biden’s administration stands against the academic research on sanctions, as well as to a
certain extent the extent to which Biden’s top advisers have already written.
This is the story that explains the way Biden and his sanction gurus were able to convince
themselves of this economic weapon and what they could do to consider the potential knock-on
What Biden’s sanctions team believes
Even experts on sanctions recognize that sanctions are used too often.
In the fall of 2021, Treasury released a seven-page document that was the conclusion of a
month-long review of sanctions. The report summarized the internal discussions in the following
manner: It acknowledged it was true that sanctions were often misused that encouraged nations
to stop using the dollar. The report also acknowledged that more exemptions should be made to
ensure that vulnerable populations do not have to shoulder the consequences of sanctions. The
report also noted that sanctions must be multilateral in order to be effective. “Sanctions must be
made clear,” the report says to let the targets know what they mean and when they will have to
be “escalated or reversed.”
Treasury officials have identified these weaknesses however, this is not to suggest that the US
shouldn’t ever resort to sanctions but rather because they view sanctions as “an effective tool
for national security” which is why they wanted to make sure they remain that way, according to
the deputy Treasury Secretary Adeyemo who led the review. Adeyemo is the head of the
administration’s economic statecraft and has been to Europe to enlarge the sanctions against
“I’m content that we completed the review as we did, as it puts us in a better place to utilize this
tool in relation to Russia’s incursion into Ukraine,” Adeyemo told me.
Certain experts found the document insufficient Others deemed it outstanding. However, what’s
certain is how secluded the world of sanctions-making. An ex-Trump Treasury official, whose
company did not permit them to make public statements said that they would have written the
entire review in a single afternoon. “The concepts they emphasized in their review were the
same principles one could say, as the Trump administration has lived up to,” they said. A former
Treasury official said it was akin to research reports Biden’s team on sanctions had written
during the Trump times.
The Treasury review concluded that sanctions should be integrated with a more comprehensive
diplomatic approach, which is something Biden’s sanctions team has repeatedly stressed
throughout his tenure in office and beyond. “I advise policymakers not to misinterpret the current
the popularity of sanctions to deal with a myriad of security threats as the notion that they can be
useful in all circumstances,” Rosenberg, who currently heads the Office of Terrorist Financing
and Financial Crimes at Treasury, was a witness before Congress in May of 2019 together with
Singh. “They can’t force capitulation and changes in the regime and they cannot be an
alternative to a comprehensive strategy to deal with the security threats to our nation.”
Harrell issued the same caution to the Trump administration the same the previous year in
writing that countries that are sanctioned often “refuse to accept concessions in spite of the
incredibly high economic cost.”
The moment is now the ” foreign-policy weapon,” as Harrell called it, is now being employed in
conjunction with the attack on Moscow. The US is also supplying millions of dollars worth of
weapons and equipment to Ukraine and sharing top-level intelligence together with the
Ukrainian government, however, sanctions are an integral part of a wider economic strategy to
break away from dependency on Russian energy sources.
Adeyemo clarified more than any Biden official on the subject of sanctions within US goals. “The
overarching goal of our foreign policy strategy is to end the invasion in Ukraine and the way
that sanctions are helping to support that is about reducing the level of resources that Russia
has to project power and by cutting off their military-industrialized complex,” he told me.
His remarks were subtle in contrast to how some administration officials have outlined the same
statements about goals. Biden has declared that sanctions are a reflection of “the capability to
inflict harm that is inflicted by the military might of rivals” and that they are “sapping Russian
“We all worry about the misuse of sanctions, however, I’m of the opinion that this is not an
instance of excessive use,” an administration official spoke under anonymity to me. “This is an
example of responding to an obvious and flagrant breach of fundamental principles of
international law and human rights. I consider this to be an example of an undisputed
agreement that the world has to take action and sanctions are the appropriate instrument.”
Biden has as well unambiguously declared that “sanctions are not a deterrent.” However,
Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan both said prior to
the conflict they believed that the prospect of sanctions was primarily about deterrence. On April
19, Blinken stated that sanctions were an attempt to increase Ukraine’s leverage in talks with
Russia and it was the White House has said some involve the imposition of “severe and
immediate costs” while others focus on the need to hold ” the Russian government and Russian
Oligarchs accountable” for their role in the war.
Adeyemo’s reasoning is the clearest to date the sanctions are used to serve one limited
objective. However “as Russia’s war persists the sanctions will be in place,” he said in a recent
address to economists.
From the moment US intelligence officials began announcing warnings about the Russian troop
presence on Ukraine’s border at the beginning of November Biden’s team for sanctions was
already working on the blueprint for a war on economics against Russia’s highly developed
It’s also about how restricted the sanctions team and the administration view other alternatives.
The US will do anything except fight nuclear power.
Additionally, the sanctions-makers grew older during the endless conflicts of Iraq and
Afghanistan exposed the limitations of US military power in the world and Washington began to
depend on sanctions.
In 2004, the Bush administration’s Treasury set up a new department to oversee sanctions,
called it was called the Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence and, in 2009, Obama
retained the first undersecretary of the office, Stuart Levey. (His succeeding secretary, David S.
Cohen is currently Director Deputy of the CIA.) Within the agency, there is an Office of Foreign
Assets Control is responsible for regulating sanctions. Given its power, OFAC as of the year 2019
had modest spending of just $46million, and around 200 employees. A number of former
Treasury officials have told me the agency was in need of staff. “We definitely need more
resources and other sources in OFAC,” Adeyemo told me.
Adeyemo and Harrell attended Yale Law School during the second term of George W. Bush
along with Jon Finer and Brian Deese who are top advisers to Biden’s White House. Biden
pulled troops out of Afghanistan in the summer of last year, confirming his position against the
nation’s longest conflict. (The administration however continues to block funds of central banks
in Afghanistan and is contributing to the food insecurity crisis, especially for children.)
In Washington, there are sanctions that are being embraced as a more appealing alternative to
fighting. “One reason that I believe it’s appealing is that it doesn’t require any upfront costs,”
said Rachel Ziemba who is a fellow of the Center for a New American Security. “It’s difficult to
come up with concrete examples of how [sanctions] work. There’s not much of that work, which
in the context says something about.”
According to historical scholar Nicholas Mulder said recently, “somewhere between about 10-30
percent of the time’s sanctions help, at most, in order to reach the stated objectives.”
However, the sanctions team is determined to use the instrument. Daleep Singh is a market
expert who worked with Goldman Sachs and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and is a
major driver of sanctions in his role as deputy national security adviser at the White House.
Singh’s presence “accounted for a portion of this larger-picture perspective” regarding the
macroeconomic impact as per the expert on sanctions, Edoardo Serravalle. (Last month it was
said that Singh is scheduled to take off in the White House.)
The rest of the team of sanctions have a similar appearance. In the Trump times, They each
carried out research, had positions at universities, and also did corporate work, just like many
Biden officials have done. Harrell, as well as Rosenberg, have published policy documents
together. Harrell was an outside legal counsel for Microsoft. Rosenberg was an advisor to senior
levels at an advisory firm called Bidenworld company WestExec Advisors and was a consultant
for ExxonMobil. Adeyemo was the director of the Obama Foundation and before that as a
managing director of BlackRock, the world’s largest investment firm. BlackRock.
The sanctions team’s core does not consist of operatives and strategists, but rather of pragmatic
professionals. “Peter, Liz, Daleep, and all of these guys do not intend to be a detriment in any
way at all. They are highly skilled technocrats,” claimed one of previous Treasury officials. “It
implies that they are looking for innovative ways to tweak and alter US regulations.”
The group of experts on sanctions was tiny prior to the crisis, but it has since gotten larger in an
overall Treasury approach, including additional government agencies such as the Commerce
Department and USAID. It is throughout the year, the team working on sanctions claims they
are constantly working to improve their strategy and learn from the experience of the past all in
the hope that they’re able to tackle any foreign policy issue by utilizing their expertise and