Previewed yesterday, here's a bit of a post-preview, if you will, of Hillary Clinton's speech at the Council on Foreign Relations today (just about over now), mostly courtesy of our friends on the FP blogging team. Laura Rozen had some excerpts of the speech before Clinton even gave it; WaPo's Glenn Kessler looks at the Iran bits; Josh Keating couldn't find it on the teevee; and Dan Drezner has a great play-by-play for those who (like me) missed it.
The key graf for fans of international cooperation:
Today, we must acknowledge two strategic facts: First, that no nation can meet the world's challenges alone.... Second, that most nations worry about the same global threats, from non-proliferation to fighting disease to counter-terrorism....Just as no nation can meet these challenges alone, no challenge can be met without America.
I suppose the variant of the United States as "indispensable nation" was pretty much inevitable, but I'd just add (in case Secretary Clinton did not) that if no nation can meet these challenges alone, but America needs to be part of the battle, then U.S. engagement in the global body featuring every nation on the planet seems like a good idea.
Ben Smith compiles some previews of what is being billed as a major speech from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tomorrow:
“She is bringing the concept of ‘it takes a village’ to foreign policy,” said Brookings Institution President Strobe Talbott, invoking the title of a well-received book that Clinton wrote while her husband was in the White House.
“She thought it was a good time to try to give a framing speech to take some perspective, talk about what we have been doing, what we plan to do – the administration and her as secretary – and how these issues fit together as part of a larger strategy,” said an administration official familiar with the draft speech, who said it would tour a breakneck half-year’s diplomatic efforts everywhere from Iran to North Korea, Iraq, Pakistan, and the Middle East.
“It’s an opportunity to take a step back and talk about how this all fits together,” the official said.
The speech will include “strong discussion of development and a forward-looking overview of how we think about U.S. relations with [and] management of the great powers in a way that gets more comprehensive than what they are doing on this or that crisis,” said another Democratic foreign policy official.
I think everyone will welcome this kind of speech from Clinton, as it will be enlightening to hear her give the kind of big picture worldview that we've heard President Obama give in his major speeches in Cairo, Russia, and Ghana. But it will be unfortunate if the speech is assessed through the lens of the rather petty debate that has emerged over whether or not there is some kind of "rift" between Clinton and Obama. She is not giving the speech to enhance her own prominence; that it will do so, or that it may appear that way, is only a function of Clinton's undeniably large media personality. I don't remember too many whisperings going around if Condoleezza Rice hadn't given a big speech in a while.
(image from flickr user kakissel under a Creative Commons license)
The reason is less substance than the optics of it all.
To be sure, a speech before Ghana's political elite is a smart choice for a number of reasons. It is a fine reward for the political maturity Ghana's elite exhibited in the wake of a tightly contested election that was decided by less than 1 % of the vote. The ruling party lost, but rather than rail against election irregularities, it gave up power. The peaceful transition of power from one party to another is all too rare on the continent and Ghana's political class deserves praise. However, I get a sense that in service of rewarding the Ghanaian political elite, Obama missed an opportunity to speak directly to the people.
I happened to be in Addis a couple of weeks after the elections. The excitement over Obama's victory was evident nearly everywhere you looked. A teenage kid hanging outside the main UN headquarters was even hawking bootleg DVDs of Obama's Democratic National Convention acceptance speech. Apparently, they were selling. I bought myself a copy of Dreams from My Father--in amharic--from a street vendor nearby. The title's translation, an amharic speaker told me, reads "Secrets to Greateness and Change."
This anecdote and others I have heard strongly suggest to me that the President of the United States may be the most popular political leader in Africa. To that end, I think the speech would have been more effective had it 1) occured in a public setting, like a public square or stadium and 2) drawn more from Obama's signature, direct-to-the-people inspirational oratory. That's the reasoning behind my A-/B+.
Bill Easterly grades Obama's Accra speech. He comes away generally positive, but this bit irks him.
“We welcome the steps that are being taken by organizations like the African Union and ECOWAS to better resolve conflicts, keep the peace, and support those in need. And we encourage the vision of a strong, regional security architecture that can bring effective, transnational force to bear when needed.”
D. Sigh. Obama seems to fall for the myth of the benevolent, neutral, outside, rapid-response “peacekeepers,” which is a leap of faith relative to the historical record that outside military intervention is rarely neutral and rarely available rapidly “when needed” (JEL article). Any given African country will not automatically see an outside force as neutral just because it is made up of other Africans.
With respect, I think Easterly is missing the point. The fact that the intervention is "rarely available rapidly 'when needed'" is precisely why the United States should support regional security arrangements, like the African Standby Force, that seek to correct this problem. The AU, at present, does not have the capacity to mount complex peacekeeping operations, yet it is being asked to bear primary responsibility for fielding these kinds of missions. (e.g. AMIS in Darfur and AMISOM in Somalia). The problem is, the AU can barely support these kinds of mission. As Susan Rice has said, Africa is basically "tapped out" with its ability to field peacekeepers.
To that end, it is important that the international community support efforts to build regional peacekeeping capcity. This kind of vision is eminantly sensible, could save lives, and would help make manifest the maxim of “African solutions to African problems." Hard to see why this vision would come under such harsh criticism from Easterly.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a group of scientists from scores of countries that study the effects of climate change. Their findings have provided scientific backbone to policy debates about how much carbon emissions should be reduced over how long a period of time to stem the most dramatic effects of climate change. In other words, they are an invaluable resource to humanity.
This is something that the Nobel Commitee recoginized when it awarded the 2007 Nobel Prize to the IPCC. Someone who apparently does not share this view is one Blaine Luetkemeymer, the representative of the 9th district of Missouri in the United States Congress. He thinks the IPCC is "international junk science." Accordingly, he just introduced a bill that would block the United States from funding the IPCC.
For kicks, his press release says: "Luetkemeyer’s legislation would prohibit U.S. contributions to the IPCC, which is nothing more than a group of U.N. bureaucrats that supports man-made claims on global warming that many scientists disagree with." (emphasis mine)
It would seem that Mr. Luetkemeyer's know-nothingism extends to English grammar.
Representative Connie Mack's (left) resolution supportive of the Honduras coup was officially submitted for congressional review. It has nine original co-sponsors, including Reps. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (FL-21),Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25), Thaddeus McCotter (MI-11), Zach Wamp (TN-03), Ted Poe (TX-02), Jeff Fortenberry (NE-01), Dana Rohrabacher (CA-46), Chris Smith (NJ-04) and Dan Burton (IN-05).
These members of congress (all Republicans) can be considered the founding members of a congressional "coup caucus." The resolution that they sponsored is firmly supportive of a military-backed coup in America's backyard. Nowhere does the resolution express concern for the fact that the coup undermined a key tenet of democracy: the seperation of the military from civil affairs. Rather, the resolution plays up Zelaya's ties with Hugo Chavez and the Castros as evidence of his nefarious nature--and as reason why other members of congress should support his ouster.
Chances are the bill will go nowhere. This type of legislation requires 25 cosponsors, including 10 on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. And even if the bill reaches that milestone, the Committee will almost assuredly not take it up. Also, there is no bill upcoming in the Committee to which it could be attached as an amendment.
However, UN Dispatch just obtained a copy of a resolution that may see the light of the day from Democratic Congressman Bill Delahunt (right). In a so-called "Dear Colleague" letter obtained by UN Dispatch, Reps James McGovern, Elliot Engel and Bill Delahunt gives a sense of what that resolution is all about.
Clearly, a path must be found that allows the restoration of democracy and rule of law, a path that can only be discovered through multilateral negotiations that recognize the illegal interruption of President Zelaya’s tenure in office and address the deep political fissures confronting Honduras at this time, including allegations that the non-binding referendum process initiated by President Zelaya was in violation of what is allowable under the Honduran constitution.
The entire Organization of American States, from left wing Hugo Chavez to Columbia's right wing President Alvaro Uribe, have condemned the coup. And there is good reason for such unanimity. It is not long ago that military backed overthrows of duly elected national leaders was a run of the mill occurance in Latin America. We thought those bad old days were gone. The coup in Honduras shows they are not.
No matter what you think of Zelaya (and he is clearly a flawed character) his ouster was a subversion of a 30 year old democracy by the military. That should be a problem no matter what side of the aisle you are on.
[Full copies of the competing Honduras resolutions are below the fold]
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, issued a press release to announce that she will be meeting with the United States Drug Enforcement Agency to talk about drug trafficking in Honduras.
“Obtaining an assessment from DEA about the situation on the ground is of increasing importance in light of recent developments in Honduras and reports of possible Zelaya drug ties.
“The drug network is like a spider web extending into arms trafficking and used to finance such extremist groups as the FARC. It undermines our regional security and stability. It is critical that we understand the full scope of the problem and the players involved in order to combat it effectively.” [Emphasis mine]
These "reports of possible Zelaya drug ties" have come from none other than the newly-minted Honduran "Foreign Minister" Enrique Ortez. He claimed in an interview that "Every night, three or four Venezuelan-registered planes land without the permission of appropriate authorities and bring thousands of pounds ... and packages of money that are the fruit of drug trafficking."
Ortez, as those who have been following this situation are well aware, was dressed down by the United States Ambassador to Honduras for frequently invoking the racially charged pejorative "negrito" to refer to President Obama. At one point, Ortez described the president of the United States as "this little black man (negrito) who has no idea where Tegucigalpa is."
In any case, it would seem that Ros-Lehtinen is interested in highlighting these allegations, and in so-doing she is giving succor to the Congressional Coup Caucus as they widen their campaign of support for a military-backed government in America's back yard.
Following up on Mark's post yesterday on the Coup Caucus, I decided to do a little digging to see what other foreign entities (and global issues) U.S. Representatives felt needed a good caucusing. My list can be found after the jump, as can some larger maps. The most glaring ommission in my mind: Italy. The Italian Embassy in D.C. is quite nice and frequently throws parties, if you know what I'm saying.
Support for the coup in Honduras extends beyond the pages of right wing political magazines to the United States Congress. Tomorrow, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Ranking Member Ileana Ros-Lehtinen will host a private meeting for her Republican colleagues with former Honduran President Ricardo Maduro and former Costa Rican Ambassador to the U.S. Jaime Daremblum. According to the invitation, obtained by UN Dispatch, "President Maduro will help to outline the sequence of events leading to the shift in power in Honduras and removal of Manuel Zelaya; provide insight into Honduran constitutional authorities; and discuss how the U.S. can now work to support the democratic institutions and rule of law in Honduras." Ambassador Daremblum will discuss his Weekly Standard piece titled "A Coup for Democracy."
In related news, Florida Republican Connie Mack (pictured) is circulating a congressional resolution that effectively supports the coup. So far, the Congressional Coup Caucus includes Dan Burton (Republican from Indiana), Jeff Fortenberry (Republican from Nebraska) and Dana Rohrabacher (Republican from California) who are co-sponsoring the resolution.
Here is a sample of what they are signing onto, passed onto UN Dispatch from a congress watcher who says Rep. Mack will likely "drop it in the hopper" tomorrrow.
Whereas several sectors of Honduras were opposed to this referendum, including the legislature, the judiciary, the Attorney General, the Human Rights Commission, the Catholic Church, evangelical groups, business associations, and four of the five political parties represented in the National Congress—including President Zelaya's own party.
Whereas on June 28, 2009, just hours before the polls were to open for the illegal referendum, the Honduran military arrested President Zelaya pursuant to a court order, and later exiled him from the country.
Whereas the Honduran Supreme Court has stated that the military acted on its orders, and the Honduran Congress passed a decree removing President Zelaya from office and replacing him with the President of Congress, Roberto Micheletti.
Whereas since his removal, Mr. Zelaya has been flown around the hemisphere by Hugo Chavez’s private jets.
Whereas since Mr. Zelaya’s inaugural, Honduras has been plagued by lowered living standards as poverty, violence, unemployment, and inflation have remained high.
Now, therefore be it:
Resolved, that the House of Representatives –
(1) expresses its strong support for the people of Honduras;
(2) condemns Mr. Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosales for his unconstitutional and illegal attempts to alter the Constitution of Honduras; and
(3) calls on all parties to seek a peaceful resolution that is both legal and constitutional.