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ISGA Research Seminar: Treasury’s Famine and the Poverty of Sanction Theory: On the Scourging of Afghanistan

Monday 9 May 2022
ISGA Research Seminar Series 2022
Turfmarkt 99
2511 DP The Hague
Common room ISGA, and via Teams (keek op de week link).

About this research seminar

The fall of Kabul on August 15th, 2021, marks a massive expansion of the US led war through the deployment of economic sanctions. The US economic domination of Afghanistan is immense, including stewardship over what was a near-famine. How and why did the US—really, the west—come to wield famine against Afghanistan? And what does it mean for sanctions theory? I begin with the analytical task of explaining what happened and why by reconstructing US-led sanctions politics in the decades leading up to August 15th and beyond. That case reveals an omnipresent ambiguity regarding intentionality. It is simply unclear if what happened after August 15th was intentional or not. Turning to theory, I test the intentional hypothesis and briefly consider the unintentional hypothesis. Regarding the former, it disagrees with sanction theory. First, it disagrees with two widely accepted presuppositions: that flagrant abuse is “unintentional” and the declarations of sanctioners regarding their aims accurately reflect their intentions. However, I argue that the presuppositions are unrealistic. Second, it disagrees with most sanction theory which neither addresses nor explains why sanctioners would impose famine. However, I argue that with minor revisions sanction theory can be shown to accommodate the argument and indeed that those theories are improved thereby. That is, with eminently realistic revisions, the theory can be saved if we assume intentionality. I conclude by developing the unintentional hypothesis. That hypothesis may better suit the fact pattern, but it leaves sanctions theory in shambles.

About the speaker

Matthew Hoye is Associate Professor at the Institute of Security and Global Affairs, working primarily in three areas: (i) remittances and global justice, (ii) republicanism in history and practice, often focusing on migration, (iii) political theory and the history of ideas, especially Hobbes.

Discussant: Eamon Aloyo
Eamon Aloyo is an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Security and Global Affairs. He is interested in a range of issues at the intersection of international relations and political philosophy, such as the responsibility to protect (R2P), just war theory, human rights, environmental politics and ethics, and global justice.

For whom?

The research seminars are open to all levels of seniority  - ranging from PhD candidates to senior professors in order to ensure a vibrant exchange and also feed-back opportunities for all. 

More information

For further information and the teams link, please contact Dr Lydie Cabane.

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