Stewart M. Patrick

The Internationalist

Patrick assesses the future of world order, state sovereignty, and multilateral cooperation.

MLK, Obama, and the Audacity of Intervention in Syria

by Stewart M. Patrick Monday, August 26, 2013
President Barack Obama speaks at a dedication ceremony of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial in Washington October 16, 2011. (Molly Riley/Courtesy Reuters)

At first glance the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and the chemical weapons crisis in Syria seem entirely unrelated. But they offer an opportunity to juxtapose the visions of war and peace of two influential Americans. On the one side is the towering figure of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK), an apostle of nonviolent resistance, convinced that “violence never brings permanent peace.” On the other is President Barack Obama, himself product of the civil rights struggle, who confronts an agonizing policy choice in Syria after the suspected chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime on civilian populations last week. Read more »

Pluralism, Peace, and the “Responsibility to Innovate”

by Guest Blogger for Stewart M. Patrick Monday, August 26, 2013
Former President Ronald Reagan addresses a crowd at the opening of the Reagan Library in Simi, California, November 4, 1991 (Gary Cameron/Courtesy Reuters).

Below is a guest post by Mark P. Lagon, adjunct senior fellow for human rights at the Council on Foreign Relations and professor at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. Read more »

At Stake in Syria: The Chemical Weapons Taboo

by Stewart M. Patrick Wednesday, August 21, 2013
A man, affected by what activists say is nerve gas, breathes through an oxygen mask in the Damascus suburbs of Jesreen August 21, 2013. Syrian activists accused President Bashar al-Assad's forces of launching a gas attack that killed nearly 500 people on Wednesday, in what would, if confirmed, be by far the worst reported use of chemical arms in the two-year-old civil war. The Syrian armed forces strongly denied using chemical weapons. Syrian state television said the accusations were fabricated to distract a team of U.N. chemical weapons experts which arrived three days ago (Ammar Dar/Courtesy Reuters).

Syrian opposition activists allege government forces launched a devastating poison gas attack yesterday that killed hundreds of civilians in suburban Damascus. If true, it would be the war’s worst atrocity—and would mock the “red line” warning that President Obama issued Assad exactly a year ago. The claims also reinforce the urgency of bolstering the chemical weapons inspection regime in Syria. Five months after their first alleged use, the world has no clear picture of how often or by whom chemical weapons have been employed, nor about the security of remaining weapons depots. Read more »

Governing the Resource Curse: Advancing Transparency

by Guest Blogger for Stewart M. Patrick Thursday, August 15, 2013
Smoke rises after a blast in a quarry at the Ariab mine September 28, 2011. The Ariab mine in east Sudan's Red Sea state, the country's largest single gold mining operation, is run by a partnership between Sudan's government and Canada's La Mancha. (Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Courtesy Reuters)

Below is a guest post by Alexandra Kerr, program coordinator in the International Institutions and Global Governance program.

Ahead of the G8 summit this June, economist Paul Collier remarked that “instead of preaching to poor countries or promising to double aid, which we never did anyway, the idea now is… to put [our] own house in order, in ways that are good for us and also good for Africa.” Prefacing the summit’s strong focus on transparency, Collier’s statement touches on a recent series of international actions that shift the approach to solving the problem of corruption in the extractives industry. Where countries with natural resource abundance have often been scrutinized for failure to turn their endowments into sustained wealth for their populations, the onus is now on the companies that partner with these states to extract natural resources, to instigate change. Consequently, a new paradigm is emerging wherein the extractives industry is increasingly accountable for its financial transactions—which, in remaining largely ungoverned, have contributed significantly to the “resource curse.” At the heart of this shift, transparency is taking center stage. Read more »