The Role of Sanctions in US Foreign Policy

Panels and Discussions

In this Geopolitical Talk, Ambassador James O’Brien, Head of the Office of Sanctions Coordination at the U.S. Department of State, discussed the role of sanctions in US foreign policy.
What we all have learned on 24 February 2022 is that the threat of economic sanctions is not enough to prevent a war. But how critical are sanctions in winning the war? What is the role of economic sanctions in American foreign policy? And what is their role in the coming international order? Which are the sanctions that work, and which are the ones that have backfired? What has Washington learned from sanctioning Russia? These are some of the questions that IWM Permanent Fellow Ivan Krastev discussed with Ambassador James O’Brien.

James C. O'Brien serves as the head of the Office of Sanctions Coordination at the United States Department of State since April 2022. He previously served as the special envoy for hostage affairs from August 28, 2015, to January 20, 2017.

Ivan Krastev, IWM Permanent Fellow and Director of the Centre for Liberal Studies in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Misha Glenny, IWM Rector, opened the evening with a welcoming address.

A recording of the event is available below.


Geopolitical Talks is a series of public debates with foreign policy experts and former politicians, initiated by IWM Permanent Fellow Ivan Krastev in 2018.

In cooperation with Bundesministerium für Landesverteidigung (BMLV).

See our past Geopolitical Talks here.