Economic freedom is almost 50 times more effective than democracy in diminishing violent conflict between nations, according to the Economic Freedom of the World: 2005 Annual Report.
Well, if trade is such an effective way of preventing wars, how did we get to be in this one?
Perhaps it's something to do with the fact we refused to trade with Iraq for 12 years? As I argued previously, deliberately antagonising the government of a foreign country, without taking any effective steps to remove it, is a very bad policy. Is there any example in history of sanctions achieving any political goal, other than the goal of provoking a war? (and other interesting by-products)
I think it should be a rule of thumb: don't introduce sanctions against a country unless you're willing to fight it.