Tag Archives: country role

Grading Samantha Power’s Record

What type of influence does Samantha Power in shaping Obama and US foreign policy? In her nomination we had the youngest US Ambassador to the UN, an idealist, and a fresh take on the perils of avoiding hard choices and messy conflicts. Where is she now?

This is where Power started in public life–as a noted academic speaker on human rights, making assertions such as this:

On the tenth anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, she appeared on “Charlie Rose” and said that the history of inaction held lessons for the U.N. and other organizations. “They can’t live by the maxim that they do in Washington, which is that if you make a moral argument you’re not going to get invited to the next meeting. Make the moral argument and see. Leak the fax that warns of the extermination of a thousand. Leak it, and see whether the member states actually can be shamed into acting. Don’t check the weather. Don’t live in the land of the possible. Push.”

via The Samantha Power Doctrine.

Now, she “exhibits a kind of post-gaffe stress disorder” keeping her “fiery and profane” comments to close quarters with public pronouncements bordering on the “mind-numbingly dull” according to Evan Osnos’s New Yorker recent profile.

He ends with a piece that Power wrote about the notable Brazilian diplomat, Sergio Vieira de Mello–alluding to perhaps her own journey, a leadership ellipse–calling him a “Machiavellian idealist” in contrast to those who can be ‘bureaucratic samurais” … the types that are “especially persuasive in their diplomacy internationally, spend[ing] ore time on those relationships.” Is that what she has become? Is her proximity to Obama proof of the long-term viability of her views, or will her tactical relationship with Hillary Clinton mean that her influence will be ending in the “4th quarter”?

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The Security Council Intifada | Foreign Policy

How Palestine is making its diplomatic moves using the most powerful UN body:

The flurry of Council diplomacy is part of a broader push by Palestinian diplomats and their supporters to capitalize on international frustration with Israel and to use multilateral institutions as means of pressuring Israel into a policy shift. In recent months, the Palestinian Authority has moved to join a clutch of international organizations and treaties, from the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Those moves are starting to pay diplomatic dividends: A meeting of the states that belong to the Geneva Conventions, another treaty Palestine has joined, rebuked Israel’s settlement policies this week. Palestinian officials have also dangled the prospect of joining the International Criminal Court, a step that Israel fears and that Washington has warned against.

This week’s Security Council move is one piece of this broader strategy, but it also marks a new chapter in the Council’s long and tortured relationship with the Middle East.This week’s Security Council move is one piece of this broader strategy, but it also marks a new chapter in the Council’s long and tortured relationship with the Middle East. For almost 70 years, the body charged with maintaining international peace and security has failed utterly to resolve the longstanding conflict. For all the hubbub in New York, there’s little reason to believe this encounter will be any more fruitful.

via The Security Council Intifada | Foreign Policy.

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The Middle East Friendship Chart

It’s complicated–and all the other bi-lateral relationships in the Middle East explained through a very helpful chart.


By Joshua Keating and Chris Kirk

via Slate: The Middle East Friendship Chart.

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Anatol Lieven on the Solution for Peace in Ukraine

What needs to happen:

What is truly strange and terrible about this looming disaster is that all the leading players already know and agree about what the only solution can be, even if they disagree on the details and the timing: a federal Ukraine with elected regional governments and robust protection for regional interests. This, not further separation, is what Moscow is proposing; and this is what the Ukrainian interim president, Olexander Turchynov, has publicly hinted at for the Donbas. Although the rebels in Donetsk and other eastern cities have declared the Donetsk Republic and are now planning an independence referendum on May 11, many easterners, too, have indicated that they want some kind of federalization and not independence or annexation to Russia. As interviews published in Sunday’s New York Times make clear, even some rebel commanders themselves hope to keep Ukraine united.

via Ukraine: The Only Way to Peace by Anatol Lieven | NYRblog The New York Review of Books.

Lieven has been a voice of analysis (and reason) before, as he wrote in March why Ukraine should be a “bridge” rather than a “battlefield”:

The problem for the west is that while many of the pro-western Ukrainian forces are genuinely committed to western-style reforms, others are traditional nationalists who look to Nato and the EU for protection against Russia, without sharing mainstream liberal values. This may either make Ukraine’s integration into the west impossible or (as has already occurred in the case of Hungary) import into the EU forces which will ally with western European neo-fascist parties.

The problem for Russia in eastern and southern Ukraine is that a desire to keep the Russian language and close ties with Russia can co-exist with a desire for closer ties with the EU (though not with Nato). It is not at all the same thing as a desire simply to become part of Russia or even a subordinate member of a Russian alliance.

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Africa without Colonialism and Other Revealing Maps

African politco-tribal units circa 1844

What if colonialism didn’t happen in Africa? Rachel Strohm explores this  theoretically-expansive 19th century map by Nikolaj Cyon and asks:

I haven’t been able to find any firm documentation on the origin of the name Alkebu-lan, although a variety of questionably sourced websites suggest that it’s an Arabic phrase meaning “land of the blacks” – supposedly an original name for Africa.  Cyon notes in a presentation that the map represents the culmination of an alternate history where the Black Plague killed significantly more Europeans than was actually the case, presumably reducing the amount of early colonization which would have occurred.  Thus, while many of these territorial groupings appear feasible to me, it’s unclear if they represent the real extent of various ethnic groups in 1844.

via The colonization counterfactual | Rachel Strohm.

Another map, referenced in a remarkable post with “40 maps that explain the world” by Max Fisher illustrate the location of today’s 30 million slaves live–including a good number in Africa, pre-colonial African empires–including the West African Imperial Systems, and the diverse languages of Africa.

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Playing Chicken in Kiev

Where is Ukraine?

Why you should pay attention to Ukraine–and the surprising resolve of protesters–who have been resolute in the largest protest there since the Orange Revolution:

The true surprise — and one that should inspire democrats around the world — is the spontaneous and spirited resistance of Ukrainian civil society to this about-face. For more than a week, Ukrainians have been protesting in the Euromaidan, and in front of government buildings throughout the capital and across the country. They have done so in miserable winter weather and in the face of police brutality.

What is important about the demonstrators is their certainty that democracy matters, and that it can be made to work. That’s remarkable, because this is 2013, not 1991, or even 2004, when the Ukrainian Orange Revolution prevailed, and then sputtered.

Democracy and independence are no longer shiny imports. Ukrainians have enjoyed some version of both for more than two decades; nine years ago, starting with protests in the same square, they succeeded in getting the democracy and the independence-minded president they wanted.

via In Kiev, High Stakes for Democracy – NYTimes.com.

At the same time, by forcing Ukraine to chose between Russia and Europe, Nicolai Petro argues that this essential country weakens its ability to play the “bridging” role that it inherently possesses and has performed in the past.

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How Countries Work

A nice description of what countries really do all day:

I often say in international relations there six things a country can do: ‘giving, helping, sharing, boasting, shouting, and fighting.’ This fits with Joseph Nye’s classic definition of ‘soft power’ coined in 1990 as ‘the ability to attract and co-opt rather than coerce, use force or give money as a means of persuasion.’ In an ideal world sharing culture and trade is a lot better than firing bullets or giving aid.

via We the People | USC Center on Public Diplomacy | PD News – CPD Blog.

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Europe’s Dirty Little Secret | FP.com

An update on an isolated, pre-modern country that just happens to be in Europe.

“Lukashenkos regime has dealt with the opposition by literally murdering a small number of people,” Stoppard tells me. The Belarusian KGB Lukashenko has clung to the old Soviet name and model for his secret police keeps an eye on their fellow citizens. New laws make that all the easier, especially online, with the government investing heavily in the development of software to track Internet users i.e. 55 percent of Belarusians over the age of 15. Lukashenko has also been orchestrating cyber attacks against activists. On December 19, 2010, the day of the last presidential elections, opposition sites were blocked. By 2 p.m. local time, access to mail and Facebook were blocked, and by 4 p.m. almost all independent websites were inaccessible.

Belarus is Europes dirty little secret. Its existence should fill Europeans with shame and the European Union with guilt. The institution that likes to grandstand about a common moral purpose and a sterling record on rights has done little to clean up the mess on its doorstep. Belarus may not be a member, but it routinely deals with the European Union — which actually tends to put its weaknesses on vivid display.

via Europes Dirty Little Secret – By Cristina Odone | Foreign Policy.

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UK | Granta’s Writer List Highlights Cosmopolitan Britain

One manifestation of immigrant integration can be seen in literary pursuits.  According to Chris Cleave, author of Incendiary and Little Bee, “London’s literary scene is absolutely rocking at the moment”…  “You couldn’t invent it. There are 300 languages, 72 major nationalities…”

So when an important lit mag points to the “best”–and they mirror a cosmopolitan, hypernetworked, up-and-coming set, its hard not to see the linkages:

“The right-wing press will undoubtedly say it’s the end of the world, it’s all these foreigners, people with funny surnames, coming over and taking our novels, yada, yada, yada,” Ms. Kennedy predicted. “It’s the nature of the beast” but unjustified, she added, because London today “is a teeming mass of different voices” that need to be reflected and represented in literature.

via Granta Names Best Young British Novelists – NYTimes.com.

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How Raymond Davis Helped Turn Pakistan Against the United States – NYTimes.com

A spy tale of a “diplomat”–that just happens to be true–explains a lot about the complex challenge to understand Pakistan.

With Davis sitting in prison, Munter argued that it was essential to go immediately to the head of the I.S.I. at the time, Lt. Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha, to cut a deal. The U.S. would admit that Davis was working for the C.I.A., and Davis would quietly be spirited out of the country, never to return again. But the C.I.A. objected. Davis had been spying on a militant group with extensive ties to the I.S.I., and the C.I.A. didn’t want to own up to it. Top C.I.A. officials worried that appealing for mercy from the I.S.I. might doom Davis. He could be killed in prison before the Obama administration could pressure Islamabad to release him on the grounds that he was a foreign diplomat with immunity from local laws — even those prohibiting murder. On the day of Davis’s arrest, the C.I.A. station chief told Munter that a decision had been made to stonewall the Pakistanis. Don’t cut a deal, he warned, adding, Pakistan is the enemy.

The strategy meant that American officials, from top to bottom, had to dissemble both in public and in private about what exactly Davis had been doing in the country. On Feb. 15, more than two weeks after the shootings, President Obama offered his first comments about the Davis affair. The matter was simple, Obama said in a news conference: Davis, “our diplomat in Pakistan,” should be immediately released under the “very simple principle” of diplomatic immunity. “If our diplomats are in another country,” said the president, “then they are not subject to that country’s local prosecution.”

Calling Davis a “diplomat” was, technically, accurate. He had been admitted into Pakistan on a diplomatic passport. But there was a dispute about whether his work in the Lahore Consulate, as opposed to the American Embassy in Islamabad, gave him full diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. And after the shootings in Lahore, the Pakistanis were not exactly receptive to debating the finer points of international law. As they saw it, Davis was an American spy who had not been declared to the I.S.I. and whom C.I.A. officials still would not admit they controlled. General Pasha, the I.S.I. chief, spoke privately by phone and in person with Leon Panetta, then the director of the C.I.A., to get more information about the matter. He suspected that Davis was a C.I.A. employee and suggested to Panetta that the two spy agencies handle the matter quietly. Meeting with Panetta, he posed a direct question.

via How Raymond Davis Helped Turn Pakistan Against the United States – NYTimes.com.

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