Cooperation between the United States and the European Union to implement restrictive sanctions on Russia and Iran represents one of the greatest achievements of the transatlantic partnership. Without the sanctions on Russia, Putin would likely have been tempted to exploit Russia’s military advantage even farther. Declining oil prices certainly contributed to weakening the Russian economy during 2014–2016, but sanctions had a major impact. In light of diverging economic exposures and historic ties to Russia, it is remarkable that transatlantic unity held firm. Neither the US nor EU acting alone could have crafted sanctions that were equally effective. Similarly, US-EU cooperation on Iranian sanctions was instrumental in bringing Teheran to the negotiating table to limit its nuclear ambitions. The US can inflict short-term serious pain on Iran (and other countries) on its own through unilateral sanctions, but only at the cost of transatlantic disunity and the long-term ineffectiveness of these sanctions.
The author would like to acknowledge the assistance of Ole Moehr in the preparation of this chapter.