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U.N. To Appoint Obscure Scientist As Official “First Contact” Representative


If the United Nations has its way, E.T. will be meeting an obscure Malaysian astrophysicists if he arrives.

North Korea Warns Of Consequences If U.N. Condemns Attack On South Korean Warship


More bluster from the Pyongyang regime: UNITED NATIONS — North Korea’s ambassador to the United Nations said Tuesday that his country’s military would respond forcefully to any Security Council condemnation over the sinking of a South Korean warship, warning that “our people and army will smash our aggressors.” In a rare news conference, the envoy, […]

Is The World Ready For A North Korean Collapse?


With tensions continuing to rise on the Korean Peninsula and the latest round of talks in China seemingly ending with no real progress, some analysts are wondering if the world is prepared for the effects of a collapse of the Pyongyang regime: [G]iven the worsening economy, the inexperience of the putative successor and the unknown […]

Deal Struck For Iran Sanctions, U.S. Officals Say


The New York Times is reporting that there’s been a deal reached among the major powers  for a new set of sanctions on Iran: WASHINGTON — The Obama administration announced Tuesday morning that it had struck a deal with other major powers, including Russia and China, to impose new sanctions on Iran, a sharp repudiation […]

Peter Galbraith Fired for Speaking Out on Afghan Election Fraud


The UN’s number two official in Afghanistan, Peter Galbraith, has been fired after a clash with head of mission Kai Eide over how to handle fraud in the recent presidential elections.  Galbraith alleges that Eide is covering up massive corruption for reasons of expediency. My New Atlanticist essay, “Galbraith Fired, Refused to Hide Afghanistan Election […]

UN Demands Torture Prosecutions

Austria UN Torture

Manfred Nowak, the U.N.’s special rapporteur on torture, proclaimed yesterday that the United States must prosecute the lawyers who drew up the torture memos and that if we fail to do so it is the duty of other states to step in and bring charges. In my New Atlanticist piece, “UN: United States Must Prosecute […]

Israel Bombs UN Headquarters (Updated)


Oops. UPDATE (Dave Schuler) The story on this incident appears to be changing: JERUSALEM — Israel’s prime minister says the Israeli military fired artillery shells at a U.N. compound in Gaza after militants opened fire from the location. Ehud Olmert says Israeli forces “were attacked from there and the response was harsh.” U.N. chief Ban […]

New Term Nonpermanent Seats on the UNSC


Japan, Austria, Turkey, Uganda, and Mexico will replace Indonesia, Belgium, Italy, South Africa, and Panama in the two year terms for nonpermanent seats on the United Nations Security Council beginning on January 1 of next year: UNITED NATIONS — Japan easily drubbed Iran in the election on Friday for a two-year seat on the Security […]

Expanding the Security Council?


French and EU President Nicolas Sarkozy issued a call from the floor of the UN yesterday to expand the Security Council and G8. Declaring that, “The 21st century world cannot be governed with the institutions of the 20th century,” he argued that inclusion of today’s emerging powers is not just “a matter fairness” but a […]

John McCain: Shadow President?

McCain Lieberman Graham

John McCain is taking advantage of Barack Obama’s “foreign vacation” in Hawaii and using the crisis in Georgia to showcase his foreign policy prowess. He’s dispatched his minions, Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham, to Georgia.  TPM’s Greg Sargent figures, The idea is to showcase himself as a man of action during a time of international […]

Russia Orders Georgia ‘Cease-Fire’

Georgia Conflict Map

Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has ordered what the press is describing as a “cease-fire” in Georgia. Given that he is not withdrawing Russian forces and is going to keep killing Georgian troops in South Ossetia in violation of international law, however, that term doesn’t quite seem to fit. NYT: The president said Russia had achieved […]

Georgian Forces Retreat, Wonder Where Friends Are

Dead Georgian Soldier

Georgian forces have been routed and have retreated from their South Ossetia province after being outmatched by the Russians.  Now, many Georgians are wondering where their Western allies are. Tony Halpin for The Times of London: As a Russian jet bombed fields around his village, Djimali Avago, a Georgian farmer, asked me: “Why won’t America […]

Russia Invades South Ossetia, Georgia Shoots Down Russian Planes

Georgian Rocket Launchers in South Osetia

Russian tanks have moved into the disputed Caucasus region of South Ossetia, dramatically escalating already high tensions with Georgia. Russian television reports that Russian troops are moving into South Ossetia. The development comes hours after Prime Minister Vladimir Putin warned Georgia that its attack on South Ossetia will draw retaliation. Channel 1 television showed a […]

Global Food Security Banquet


Dave Schuler: “I wonder if the irony of a dinner in the interests of aiding the hungry is lost on them.” He doesn’t really wonder.

Institutionalizing Counter-Terrorism


Bernard Finel argues that we have done a poor job of formalizing rules to deal with the fight against international terrorists. Few, even today, question the legitimacy of the U.S. campaign to remove the Taliban. But has this case set a broader precedent? And if so, what are the parameters of this precedent. Does any […]

Rebuilding the UN from the Ground Up

UN Building Renovation Groundbreaking Photo

Speaking of decrepit New York City landmarks, Mark Leon Goldberg reports on a major renovation of the 50-year-old United Nations building, which would have condemned “long ago if not for the fact that it falls under international jurisdiction.” According to the UN News Centre, the current buildings are “plagued by leaks, safety violations and outdated […]

McCain the Anti-War Warrior?


In the cover story of the new American Prospect, Matt Yglesias describes John McCain thusly: The candidate who, despite his protestations in a March speech that he “hates war,” not only stridently backed the 2003 invasion of Iraq but has spent years calling on the United States to depose every dictator in the world. He’s […]

U.S. Foreign Policy in the Post-Bush Era


Fareed Zakaria argues that John McCain’s foreign policy would be bellicose whereas Barack Obama’s would be conciliatiatory but, as Dave Schuler notes, both are “confrontational” and “interventionist,” just with slightly different priorities. Zakaria points to a recent McCain speech: Not only does it declare war on Russia and China, it places the United States in […]

Does John McCain Want to Kill the UN?

Hulk Smash United Nations

During a major foreign policy address yesterday, John McCain talked about his plan to create a League of Democracies. Charles Krauthammer sees a plot to do away with the United Nations: Well, I like the idea of the league of democracies, and only in part because I and others had proposed it about six years […]

New Face Of Hunger


Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary General, warns that the rapidly escalating price of food is increasing world hunger. The prices of basic staples — wheat, corn, rice — are at record highs, up 50 percent or more in the past six months. Global food stocks are at historic lows. The causes range from rising demand […]

Russia Denounces Kosovo Independence Declaration, On Collision Course with West (Updated)

Russia Denounces Kosovo Independence Declaration, On Collision Course with West

As expected, Russia is not pleased with Kosovo’s secession from Serbia. Russia denounced Kosovo’s independence declaration Sunday, warning that the move threatened to ignite a new conflict in the Balkans and calling on NATO and U.N. officials in the territory to nix the decision. Russia requested a meeting of the U.N. Security Council, which held […]

Russia Starts Iran Nuclear Deliveries

Russia Starts Iran Nuclear Deliveries

Russia has began delivery of nuclear fuel to Iran, defying UN resolutions calling on Iran to give up its nuclear enrichment program. Russia on Monday announced the start of nuclear fuel deliveries for Iran’s first atomic power station, brushing aside US and Israeli claims that Tehran harbours secret bomb-making plans. “On December 16, 2007, Atomstroiexport […]

Let George Do It!

UN Flags Photo

Dave Schuler wins Line of the Day honors for this comment on Alex Knapp’s post about the differences between the Clinton and Obama foreign policies: There’s a razor’s edge between greater reliance on international institutions and “let George do it”. I’m personally and professionally committed to the use of international institutions, particularly NATO and various […]

Is the UN to Blame for its Failures?

Is the UN to Blame for its Failures?

Joe Nye, the premier soft power theorist, defends the United Nations from its critics from the Right, arguing they don’t understand the value of international legitimacy. After the failure of the League of Nations in the 1930’s, the UN was designed to have the Security Council’s permanent members act as policemen to enforce collective security. […]

U.N. Overstated H.I.V. Cases by Millions

U.N. Overstated H.I.V. Cases by Millions

The global AIDS crisis is less dire than it has been portrayed, the UN admits. The United Nations’ AIDS-fighting agency plans to issue a report today acknowledging that it overestimated the size of the epidemic and that new infections with the deadly virus have been dropping each year since they peaked in the late 1990s. […]

Darfur Mission Desperate for Helicopters, Trucks

Darfur Mission Desperate for Helicopters, Trucks

The latest UN effort to bring peace to Darfur could fail before it starts for want of some trucks and helicopters. The joint UN-African Union peacekeeping mission to Darfur may fail unless countries can provide helicopters and lorries, a top UN official says. Foot-dragging by Sudan over the make-up of the force could also threaten […]

Americans Want Allies, Willing to Go Alone

UN Survey

The United Nations Foundation has released a new survey showing that Americans overwhelmingly prefer multilateral solutions to foreign policy issues. Mark Leon Goldberg provides an executive summary: The United Nations Foundation released the results of a major survey of Americans’ foreign policy attitudes today. Americans, the poll finds, are virtually unanimous (86% of all voters) […]

Bill Richardson’s New Realism


Foreign Affairs has, over the last several issues, had one major Republican and one major Democrat publish an essay under their name outlining the foreign policy agenda they would pursue if elected president. Bill Richardson was either tired of waiting or figured he wouldn’t be asked, so instead published his in the latest issue of […]

McCain Calls for ‘League of Democracies’


In a conference call with bloggers this morning, Senator John McCain argued that the United States should convene a League of Democracies to get friendly nations to put more severe pressure on Iran. I was able to get in the first question and followed up on this idea, asking whether he was talking about a […]

Al Gore Wins Nobel Peace Prize

Al Gore Wins Nobel Peace Prize Photo

Former Vice President Al Gore has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Former Vice President Al Gore and the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize Friday for their efforts to spread awareness of man-made climate change and lay the foundations for counteracting it. Gore’s film “An Inconvenient Truth,” a […]

NATO’s Mission Creep


Greg Djerejian reacts to a Bloomberg report that NATO is having trouble sustaining its mission in Afghanistan by wondering what NATO is doing there to begin with. [N]ot a single one of the original signatories in a million years would have imagined half a century on that [the “armed attack against one or more of […]

Sudan Ready to Declare Cease-Fire


Sudan is on the verge of yet another cease-fire. Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir said Friday his government is ready to implement a cease-fire with rebel forces at the start of peace talks over the conflict in Darfur, scheduled for next month in Libya. It was the first time al-Bashir — in Italy to meet with […]

Sarkozy: Bombing Iran an Option


French President Nicolas Sarkozy caused quite a stir by raising the specter of bombing Iran to prevent it becoming a nuclear weapon state. The biggest challenge to the world was the avoidance of conflict between Islam and the West, President Sarkozy told the annual gathering of French ambassadors. Iran was the crossroads of the Middle […]

Why Arguing From A Single Example Sucks


Ace of Spades guest Jack M. links a two-and-a-half-year-old story about U.N. peacekeepers committing sex crimes in Congo as part 1 in a 5 part series on “International Law: Why it sucks, why people shouldn’t buy into it, and why it should be abandoned.” In that spirit, I will use his post as the first […]

Limits of International Law


Dan Drezner weighs in, again, in the cross-blog debate on the extent to which states, especially powerful ones like the United States, are constrained by international law. He cites a post by Henry Farrell that’s pretty similar in substance to the version I taught students in my Intro to IR classes. The key ‘graph: The […]

War, Vital Interests, and International Law


John Quiggin ponders Dan Drezner’s formulation that, “The number one rule of the bi-partisan foreign policy community is that America can invade and attack other countries when vital American interests are threatened. Paying homage to that orthodoxy is a non-negotiable pre-requisite to maintaining good standing within the foreign policy community.” Quiggin observes, Unless “vital national […]

U.N. Going Back to Iraq


The United Nations will step up its efforts in Iraq after a four year hiatus. The Security Council voted Friday to expand the United Nations’ role in Iraq in a move aimed at promoting talks among ethnic and religious rivals and winning support from the country’s neighbors. The resolution, approved unanimously, authorizes the U.N., at […]

Intervention as Far as the Eye Can See


Ivo Daalder and Robert Kagan argue that, contrary to conventional wisdom that the messes in Iraq and Afghanistan will make it incredibly unlikely that an American president will dispatch the military overseas anytime soon, there is a bipartisan consensus for interventionism. Despite the difficulties in Iraq and Afghanistan, America remains the world’s dominant military power, […]

UK Can’t Have Two Best Friends


Former UN Ambassador John Bolton writes an open letter to the Brits telling them, essentially, that they must choose between the United States and the European Union. [S]aying that the UK’s “single most important bilateral relationship” is with America, but is not comparable with UK membership of the EU, is a clever but ultimately meaningless […]

Another U.N. Peacekeeper Rape Scandal


The U.N. has suffered yet another rape scandal, this time involving Moroccan soldiers and Ivory Coast girls. “It means they don’t participate in our operations,” said Hamadoun Toure, spokesman for the U.N. mission in Cote d’Ivoire (ONUCI). “Those who are found guilty will be sent back home.” The world body said the measure was in […]

Brown Becomes PM, Blair Middle East Envoy

Gordon Brown Becomes British Prime Minister Photo

It’s official: Gordon Brown is the new PM. Former Treasury chief Gordon Brown became British prime minister Wednesday, promising “a new government with new priorities,” after Tony Blair left office with a legacy of economic prosperity overshadowed by the deeply divisive Iraq war. Power changed hands traditionally and quietly behind closed doors in Buckingham Palace […]

Kurt Waldheim Dead at 88


Kurt Waldheim has died. Former U.N. Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim, whose legacy as head of the world body was overshadowed by revelations that he belonged to a German army unit that committed atrocities in the Balkans in World War II, died Thursday. He was 88. Waldheim, who was hospitalized in Vienna last month with an infection, […]

Guerrillas Derail Darfur Support Mission


The UN peacekeepers in Darfur are having many of the same difficulties currently being encountered by Coalition forces in Iraq. Christian Science Monitor staff writer Scott Baldauf explains: Deteriorating security conditions in Darfur — a vast region of Sudan that is equal in size to France — are endangering the largest humanitarian aid operation in […]

Zoellick, Paulson, and Lugar Top World Bank List


Eager to put the embarrassment of the Paul Wolfowitz brouhaha behind him, President Bush “will have a candidate to announce soon, allowing for an orderly transition that will have the World Bank refocused on its mission.” AP reports that, “Among those mentioned as a possible replacement for Wolfowitz were former Deputy Secretary of State Robert […]

Wolfowitz to Resign Today


Kirit Radia and Brian Ross report that Paul Wolfowitz will resign as president of the World Bank later this afternoon. World Bank officials say the bank’s board is completing an “exit strategy” that will allow World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz to resign this afternoon and “still save some face” over the issue of his efforts […]

Economic Sanctions That Work


Economic sanctions are almost always an ineffective way of achieving foreign policy goals. As we have seen in places like Iraq, North Korea, and, especially, Cuba, cutting off trade tends to make innocent civilians suffer while actually bolstering the regime, who now has a ready scapegoat for all the society’s ills. Well-targeted sanctions, though, can […]

Wolfowitz World Bank Scandal a Non-Scandal?


Christopher Hitchens believes that Paul Wolfowitz and, by extension, Shaha Riza, have been “slimed” as a result of the “eagerness for prurience, the readiness for slander, and the utter want of fact-checking” of the press corps. Indeed, not only did they do nothing wrong but they acted extraordinarily honorably. Anyone in Washington who cares about […]

Paul Wolfowitz World Bank Scandal


Paul Wolfowitz’s tenure as president of the International Bank of Reconstruction and Development (better known as the World Bank) appears about to end after a scandal over preferential treatment of his girlfriend. The bank’s staff association and the Financial Times are calling for his resignation, which I suspect will coon be forthcoming. AP’s Jeannine Aversa […]

UNICEF Gender Equality Report


Via Ezra Klein, I see that UNICEF has published its annual “State of the World’s Children” report (PDF available here). It’s subtitle gives you a good clue of the contents: “Women and Children: The Double Dividend of Gender Equality.” Not surprisingly, women’s rights are strongest in the most prosperous societies. The causal relationship is debatable, […]

Railing Against the Pirates of Tehran


Fred Thompson (or, more likely, a staffer) made his blogging debut at Redstate yesterday afternoon, warning of the dangers of the propaganda victory Mahmoud Ahmadinejad got from taking 15 British marines hostage. He is disgusted with the weakness shown by the international community in this affair: “The UN Security Council summoned its vaunted multilateral greatness […]

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