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Dealing with Despots

The New York Times picks up this exchange between Matthew Lee and I from our last UN Plaza segment.

The idea that there is a one-sized fits all approach to rogue states I think is wrong-headed. Just because a particular policy worked for North Korea it does not necessarily follow that such an approach will work for, say, Sudan. I think, however, there is a tendency among hardliners to think that only a hard line approach will work in any given situation. Perhaps the apotheosis of this approach–which I reference in the segment above — is John Bolton’s dictate in Surrender is not an Option that he “doesn’t do carrots.” Full stop.

I would argue, however, that in some specific cases carrots work and in some they do not. American concessions clearly helped convince North Korea to destroy its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon two weeks ago. Yet, at the same time I do not think that the international community has done enough to pressure Khartoum into lifting its obstruction of the joint AU-UN peacekeeping mission in Darfur. Different situations call for different approaches. READ MORE

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Summary of United States’ June Presidency of the Security Council

Emily Ross, an intern at the New York office of the United Nations Foundation, sent us the following summary of the United States presidency of the Security Council during the month of June. READ MORE

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World Drug Report 2008

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime released its annual report (pdf) on global trends in the production, trafficking and consumption of controlled substances yesterday. Most notably, the report gave us some disturbing new figures on the Afghan opium cultivation, which grew by 17% since 2007. Today, some 92% of the opium in the world comes from Afghanistan. Column Lynch has more

The Taliban earned $200 million to $400 million last year through a 10 percent tax on poppy growers and drug traffickers in areas under its control, Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of the U.N. Office of Drugs and Crime, said in an interview. He estimates that Afghan poppy farmers and drug traffickers last year earned about $4 billion, half of the country’s national income.

Simply eradicating Afghan poppy fields is not really an option. In a year old LA Times piece, Peter Bergen and Sameer Lalwani explain how counter-narcotics policy can sometimes make for counter-productive counter-insurgency strategy. Cato’s Ted Galen Carpenter has more. READ MORE

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Burma/Myanmar and the Responsibility to Protect

Imagine that a crowded building is on fire, that people are dying inside, and that a guy with a gun is standing outside the door to prevent firefighters from entering. Now multiply that by a couple million times or so and you can get a feel for what is happening in Burma right now.

The junta has never had a reputation for caring much about its own citizens, but the fact that they are erecting all sorts of bureaucratic hurdles to prevent life saving relief from reaching their own citizens is downright criminal. Given this behavior, I wonder if the Security Council should invoke the “Responsibility to Protect” and authorize the violation of Myanmar’s sovereignty by other member states? (This is the principal, agreed upon by UN member states in 2005, that the international community is permitted to violate the sovereignty of a country when that country is unwilling or unable to prevent mass atrocities from being visited upon its own citizens.)

It seems that at least one P-5 member, France , thinks so. The proposal was aired by Bernard Kouchner, French foreign minister and founder of Doctors Without Borders, but quickly shot down by China and Russia. The UN’s Top Humanitarian Official, John Holmes, also derided the proposal, saying “I’m not sure that invading Myanmar would be a very sensible option at this particular moment. I’m not sure it would be helpful to the people we’re actually trying to help.”

True, the immediate goal is to get relief to Burmese citizens as fast as possible. Right now, this means working with the military junta. But if this kind of obstructionism on the part of the Burmese government is not overcome soon, invoking Responsibility to Protect should not be too far outside the realm of possibility. READ MORE

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UN Official: High Food Prices Here to Stay

It’s obviously a disturbing sign of the times when a blog like FP Passport feels the need to run a recurring “food riot watch” in response to unrest in Haiti, Kenya, and Egypt. Hopefully, the good folks at Passport are ready to stay on the story for the long haul because according to Lennart Bage, president of the UN’s International Fund, prices are not coming down any time soon. Says Bage

“Most experts do think higher prices are here for a longer term… We will see a supply response, so hopefully the prices will come down somewhat,” he said before adding a word of caution.

“According to experts in the field, prices will remain higher than in the past and what we see is most likely a structural shift to higher prices.”

Read more. READ MORE

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UN Official: High Food Prices Here to Stay

It’s obviously a disturbing sign of the times when a blog like FP Passport feels the need to run a recurring “food riot watch” in response to unrest in Haiti, Kenya, and Egypt. Hopefully, the good folks at Passport are ready to stay on the story for the long haul because according to Lennart Bage, president of the UN’s International Fund, prices are not coming down any time soon. Says Bage

“Most experts do think higher prices are here for a longer term… We will see a supply response, so hopefully the prices will come down somewhat,” he said before adding a word of caution.

“According to experts in the field, prices will remain higher than in the past and what we see is most likely a structural shift to higher prices.”

Read more. READ MORE

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