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North Korea sanctions

Those sanctions that were tightening (ahead of schedule) on North Korea -- they are tight indeed.  The asset freezes and travel bans hit the officials and companies most directly responsible for the country's nuclear program.  Pyongyang won't react well verbally, to be sure, but they have to be feeling this one in their pocketbooks.

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Amnesty for everyone in Honduras?

Because there is a unified international front (aside from, ahem, a handful of members of the United States Congress) it is almost assured that Honduran President Manuel Zelaya will return to office.  What's being hashed out in negotiations, overseen by Costa Rican president Oscar Arias, are the precise terms of his return. 

According to news reports, it seems that amnesty is in the offing for both Zelaya and the coup leaders. This is obviously an expedient solution, but there is a down side to letting everyone off the hook.  The coup was a subversion of the rule of law. Any long term solution to the crisis in Honduras must include efforts to bolster the rule of law.  Amnesty has exactly the opposite effect. 

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Cooperative foreign policy

I disagreed with Peter Scoblic Beinart on another point earlier, so but I have to give him Peter Scoblic credit for nailing the essence of Hillary Clinton's speech yesterday:

If the speech was long, the key point was simple: Essentially, the secretary seemed to be saying that, despite the grave dangers we face--indeed, because of the very character of those threats--the emphasis in U.S. foreign policy today must be on cooperation rather than conflict. Not because the world is suddenly a friendlier place, but because meeting threats bluntly may be ineffective or even counterproductive.


(I also agree with his colleague Michael Crowley on why the media seems determined to interpret everything that Clinton does into a silly Obama vs. Hillary storyline.)

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Global consensuses can be plural

With all due respect to Peter Beinart, I think he gets this one wrong:

And that means you can either forge truly global institutions—which include Moscow and Beijing—or you can forge institutions whose members genuinely respect freedom. You can’t do both. Similarly, it would be nice if there were a global consensus that nuclear proliferation was bad, but there’s not. Countries with nukes mostly think that no one else should enter the club. Lots of countries without nukes want in.

It’s all well and good to say that we can have different kinds of international institutions for different issues: global ones where there really is a moral consensus; limited ones where there is not. But in the real world, you can’t keep things so separate. The more you alienate non-democracies by creating powerful new institutions on human rights, the harder it is to get their cooperation on issues of common concern.

This reminds me of the tired debate about creating a "League of Democracies." On the one hand, Beinart is right that pushing for such a provocative (and ill-defined) "pro-freedom" institution will only make global cooperation more difficult. But on the other, different global institutions do exist. The role of the UN is not undermined by the existence of NATO, nor is the World Bank's by the G-8 or G-20.  Advocating human rights through the Human Rights Council does not impede the work of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Moreover, the fact that all countries in a global institution don't agree on something does not mean that the institution itself is useless, even at tackling a problem on which its members have differing viewpoints. The UN and other mixed groups of countries are proper venues for negotiating nuclear nonproliferation precisely because they contain both countries with and without nukes, and whose commitments toward nonproliferation vary. You can't come to an agreement on something in a group in which everyone already agrees. "Forging" a global consensus is difficult work; you can't just corral the right countries into the right groups. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't try, even on aims that might seem to be at odds with one another.

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On the eve of Hillary Clinton’s trip, an insider’s look at the Indian political scene

Eriposte is a regular contributor to The Left Coaster, where he frequently writes on issues pertaining to the Indian sub-continent. In his previous contribution to UN Dispatch, eriposte wrote about the link betweem rural poverty and extremism in Pakistan. 

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be in India from July 17 through July 21, visiting both Mumbai and New Delhi. This is a trip aimed at laying a foundation for a deeper and more strategic engagement with India. Interestingly, one of the leading Indian newspapers The Hindu reports that in Mumbai, "she will be staying at the Taj Mahal Hotel in an act of solidarity with the 26/11 victims" - a reference to one of the major sites targeted in the coordinated terrorist attacks last year (26/11).

Clinton will not visit Pakistan during this trip, implicitly sending a message that the United States no longer views India merely "through the Pakistan lens" - a message that was also indirectly conveyed earlier by eliminating India from the charter of Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke. In a recent speech, Secretary Clinton said "We see India as one of a few key partners worldwide who will help us shape the 21st century" and characterized this period as "a third era...U.S.-India 3.0". Some of topics that are expected to be discussed during her trip include global security, nuclear energy, climate change, trade and human development. Given the significance of this trip to US-India relations, this might be an appropriate moment to highlight some of the key players in India when it comes to foreign policy.

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Sanctions tightening around North Korea

The facts that China appears to be on board -- not to mention that the UN panel on North Korea sanctions may come to consensus before its deadline -- do not bode well for a defiant Pyongyang.

The U.N. Security Council neared agreement on Wednesday on North Korean firms and individuals to be added to a blacklist for involvement in Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs, diplomats said

"We are very close" to agreement, Japanese Ambassador Yukio Takasu told reporters. Diplomats from several countries said a council committee that has been discussing the issue for a month was on target to meet a weekend deadline for completing its task and could do so as early as Wednesday.

Meanwhile, North Korea insists that its "sovereignty" be respected before negotiations can recommence. This seems to have it completely backwards. North Korea's leaders aren't exactly the ones to place conditions here; they're the ones who will need to reconsider their country's nuclear program if they are interested in, say, having unfrozen bank accounts or being able to travel anywhere.

Yet I wouldn't be surprised to hear some off-the-mark commentators continue to insist that an utterly isolated North Korea somehow has "the upper hand" in this drama.