James M. Lindsay

The Water's Edge

Lindsay analyzes the politics shaping U.S. foreign policy and the sustainability of American power.

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The World Next Week: North Korea, Tunisia, and UN Day

by James M. Lindsay
October 20, 2011

North Korea's envoy Kim Kye Gwan takes part in a new round of six party talks in Beijing December 8, 2008. A top U.S. envoy predicted tough talks on North Korea's nuclear activities on Monday as a fresh round of negotiations over a disarmament-for-aid deal began with the Bush administration readying to leave office. REUTERS/Elizabeth Dalziel/Pool (CHINA)

North Korea's envoy Kim Kye Gwan taking part in Six-Party Talks in 2008. (Elizabeth Dalziel/courtesy Reuters)

The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon and I sat down to discuss talks between U.S. and North Korean officials; Tunisians going to the polls; and UN Day.

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The highlights:

  • U.S. and North Korean negotiators meet in Geneva next week to discuss the possibility of restarting the Six-Party Talks on dismantling North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. Ever since Pyongyang tested its second nuclear device in May 2009, Washington and Seoul have insisted that North Korea commit to nuclear disarmament as a precondition to reopening negotiations. There is no evidence yet that either side is ready to budge.
  • Eighty political parties are competing in the vote for Tunisia’s new Constituent Assembly. An Islamist party is favored to take home the most seats, but it probably will not win an outright majority of parliamentary seats. If it does not, the result of the vote will be a coalition government. Whether that coalition can be made to work will go a long way in determining whether the Tunisian experiment with democracy succeeds.
  • Next Monday marks UN Day, which is intended to celebrate the UN’s aims and achievements. The UN has never lived up to the lofty vision that it would save the world from the threat of aggression. But that’s because it can never do more than its members—and especially the permanent members of the Security Council—want it to do. And they often disagree.
  • Bob’s Figure of the Week is 427, though depending on events he may change it to 1,027. My pick is Herman Cain. To find out why, you have to listen to the podcast.

The Washington Post covers a summit that is laying the groundwork for reopening talks between the United States and North Korea, and the Christian Science Monitor reads the political tea leaves on this issue. Al Jazeera’s opinion page looks optimistically at the upcoming Tunisian election, while CNN’s “Security Clearance” takes a less positive view, focusing on the social tensions playing out in social media.  The UN website a offers a history lesson on its own founding.

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