In 1980, after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, President Jimmy Carter came up with a way to retaliate: stopping grain sales to Moscow. The boycott, said Commerce Secretary Philip Klutznick, would prove to the world that "aggression is costly" and induce the Soviets to "halt their aggression." The Soviets did halt their aggression and pull out of Afghanistan. But that didn't happen until nine years later, and it had nothing to do with the grain embargo. The fact that those sanctions proved useless has not stopped President Barack Obama or congressional Republicans from proposing new ones after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. There is a very slim possibility that Western economic sanctions will undo Russia's ambitions in Ukraine, writes Steve Chapman. There is a better chance that those ambitions will undo themselves.
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