Monthly Archives: March 2008
Mark is right to call attention to the “new international institutions” that John McCain alluded to in his speech today. In proposing a “League of Democracies” — an idea that, interestingly, resembles a Bush administration proposal from September 2005 — McCain’s speech very neatly mirrors the foreign policy address he gave at the Hoover Institution over a year ago, when he first launched the idea of an organization that “could act where the U.N. fails to act.” What, exactly, does he have in mind? Straight from the horse’s mouth, courtesy of an op-ed he wrote in Financial Times last week:
The nations of the Nato alliance and the European Union…must have the ability and the will to act in defence of freedom and economic prosperity. They must spend the money necessary to build effective military and civilian capabilities that can be deployed around the world, from the Balkans to Afghanistan, from Chad to East Timor.
While McCain’s commitment to working together with other countries is welcome, his seemingly singular focus on a U.S.-Europe alliance could detract significantly from the objective of international cooperation. True, the UN General Assembly often grapples with tensions between the global “North” and the global “South,” between “developed” countries and the “developing” 130 countries in the so-called “G-77.” The existence of these tensions — which often frustrate American objectives — is not, however, a reason to exclude such a substantial number of states from the global decision-making process.
In the 1950′s and 60′s, the UN reached a seminal point in its history, welcoming a flood of newly decolonized countries in Asia and Africa. To create an alliance consisting largely of militarily strong ex-colonial powers would be, to say the least, a disturbing development, both philosophically and practically. If as President McCain is serious about working with the rest of the world to address the pressing problems of the day, then he should commit to working with the — admittedly imperfect, but hugely necessary — institution that already exists — the United Nations.
On the heels of his trip to the middle east, John McCain is billed to give a major foreign policy address today. The Washington Post got its hands on some highlights.
“The United States cannot lead by virtue of its power alone,” McCain said. Instead, the country must lead by attracting others to its cause, demonstrating the virtues of freedom and democracy, defending the rules of an international civilized society, and creating new international institutions to advance peace and freedom, he said.
“If we lead by shouldering our international responsibilities and pointing the way to a better and safer future for humanity … it will strengthen us to confront the transcendent challenge of our time: the threat of radical Islamic terrorism,” said McCain.
Naturally, “creating new international institutions” catches my attention. Later in the article, it seems that McCain is referring to building a coalition of democracies and renewing American commitment to nuclear disarmament through strengthening the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. For a thorough explanation of why this first idea may be problematic, I’ll encourage readers to (pre) order Matt Yglesias’ new book Heads in the Sand. Meanwhile, it’s really encouraging to see McCain throw his support behind not just disarmament, but the NPT in general.
The Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty, created in 1968, maintains that nuclear weapons proliferation can only be curtailed if nuclear countries make moves toward disarmament and the rest of the world be allowed to access civilian nuclear technology. However, this “three pillar” strategy has taken a beating in recent years, in part because some nuclear powers have largely ignored its disarmament protocols in pursuit of so-called tactical nuclear weapons. Re-affirming American support for nuclear disarmament is not only a good thing on its own, but it helps to strengthen our entire international non-proliferation regime. Supporting the NPT– which means abiding by its precepts and working with allies to raise the costs of non-compliance — is critical to curtailing the global spread of nuclear weapons.
Angelina Jolie looks after refugees, Drew Barrymore helps feed the world, Nicole Kidman takes on violence against women and Bono promotes the MDG’s. But this week belongs to Jay-Z, who explains why water is for life.
For those of you who missed it, Stephen Colbert dedicated his entire show last Thursday to World Water Day. He introduced Aqua Colbert, visited the American Museum of Natural History’s water exhibit, and interviewed Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway and a promising new water purification system.
Mark Helprin’s “Bomb Sudan” piece in the New York Times today would have been a bit more persuasive back in 2004-2005, when the Sudanese government was more directly responsible for the fighting in Darfur. Today, it reads as completely detached from reality on the ground.
>>Pakistan – Within minutes of assuming his new role, Pakistan’s new Prime Minister Yousaf Gillani released a dozen judges, including Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, detained by President Musharraf last year. PM Gillani also called for a UN investigation into the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.
>>Iraq – Government security forces battled with Shi’ite militias in Basra today in an attempt to bring the city under federal control. The battle may prove important in the British exit strategy. Meanwhile, followers of Muqtada al Sadr continued to engage in a national civil disobedience campaign.
>>Comoros – The archipelago nation of Comoros, located off the coast of Mozambique, has, with the assistance of 1,350 African Union troops, taken control of the rebel island of Anjouan. Anjouan, an island of 300,000, was led by Mohamed Bacar, who had clung to power after an illegal election last year. Comoros has endured 20 coups since it gained independence in 1975.
>>Tibet – Protesting Tibetan monks, joined by locals hundreds of locals to call for the return of the Dalai Lama, were fired on by Chinese paramilitaries in Garze, which borders Tibet. Reports suggest that at least two were killed.
The SG: In Ethiopia over the weekend, the SG is now in the United Arab Emirates. Today he met with Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashed Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, where the two discussed developments in the region, including Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan, and in the Middle East Peace Process.