< Distinguished speaker series

James O’Brien

Ambassador Overseeing U.S. Sanctions Policy

Sanctions: Do They Ever Work?

DATE: October 18, 2022 6:00 pm

Event information


The United States and its allies imposed the toughest sanctions ever when Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, and then they toughened them some more. But Russian President Vladimir Putin doubled his bets with plans to annex four Ukrainian regions and call up reservists.


So, what is the effect of the sanctions?


Do sanctions ever work?  Look at Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela and Afghanistan before 9/11.  Do they ever lead to regime change? Or do they even strengthen the hand of the leadership in the country?


We have invited Ambassador James OBrien to discuss these questions and more. He’s the newly installed sanctions “czar” at the State Department.


Ambassador OBrien has had important posts at the State Department going back to 1989.  He was Special Presidential Envoy for the Balkans, responsible for U.S. diplomatic and economic and security policy, deputy director of the State Department office of Policy Planning and a senior adviser to the late Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. He helped formulate the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement, focusing on the Bosnian constitution, and guided the U.S. support for the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, which indicted 161 suspects before it closed in 2017.  He worked on agreements to control weapons of mass destruction in the former Soviet Union.  He also negotiated agreements protecting intellectual property rights with China. Later he became vice chair of the Albright Stonebridge consulting firm in Washington.  And during the Obama administration, he was Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs from 2015 to 2017.


“Czar” OBrien’s presentation will be on October 18. Please join us live at the Maryland Room in the World Trade Center at 5 pm for the reception, with the program beginning at 6 pm. For those who cannot attend in person, we’ll have a live Zoom feed available.