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Rising Powers

New from the Stanley Foundation is a fantastic new interactive (and aesthetically pleasing) website, Rising Powers, which chronicles how emerging powers like Brazil, China, and the European Union are changing the global landscape. The site also includes some key data on how non-state actors are responding to the rise of alternate power centers to the United States. It's fascinating stuff...but wait, there's more! To accompany this new project, the Stanley Foundation has teamed up with a number of journalistic enterprises to sponsor a new audio documentary series for public radio. TSF's new project immediately conjures to mind this On Day One video cut by Parag Khanna, author of Second World: Empires and Influence in the New Global Order which chronicles how international relations is changing as new global power centers emerge. In the clip below, Khanna argues that the United States must completely overhaul its public diplomacy apparatus to make the most from these changes.
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UN Zimbabwe Sanctions on the Horizon?

At a press stakeout yesterday, Zalmay Khalilzad told reporters that he has "nine votes" lined up behind a United States sponsored Security Council resolution imposing an arms embargo on Zimbabwe and sanctioning a number of Zanu-PF leaders. What's the significance of "nine votes?" For one, it means that Russia may be softening its opposition to Security Council sanctions. Yesterday's stern G-8 statement condemning Zimbabwe's political leadership (signed off by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev) may have presaged a Russian shift at the Council in support of French, American, and British efforts to sanction Zimbabwe. A vote could come at the end of the week, but the threat of a Chinese veto could still disrupt the Council's schedule. The Financial Times has more.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Live From Bucharest: Will Kharzai Accept the new SRSG for Afghanistan?

Sameer Lalwani, live blogging from the NATO summit in Bucharest, sets the scene for a meeting today with Afghan President Hamid Kharzai:
Afghanistan is perhaps the centerpiece of the NATO summit (though expansion rates a close second) as it is the first intensive out-of-theater deployment for NATO in its 59 year history. And it has not been easy. One of the reasons for regress and a resurgent Taliban that has been cited by many during this NATO summit in Bucharest is the lack of a coordinating mechanism or actor to harmonize tactical operations with civilian efforts at reconstruction through the [provincial reconstruction teams] and the morass of development aid that is tethered to different national objectives and time lines. A couple weeks ago, U.S. Ambasador to the UN Zalmay Khalilzad wrote an op-ed throwing strong U.S. support behind the United Nations to take on that role of coordination in Afghanistan.