Stewart M. Patrick

The Internationalist

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

The Fifth IPCC Report: Humans are to blame. It’s science.

by Guest Blogger for Stewart M. Patrick Monday, September 30, 2013
Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer (AMSR-E), a high-resolution passive microwave instrument on NASA's Aqua satellite shows the state of Arctic sea ice (NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio/Courtesy Reuters). Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer (AMSR-E), a high-resolution passive microwave instrument on NASA's Aqua satellite shows the state of Arctic sea ice (NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio/Courtesy Reuters).

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

Today the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its Fifth Assessment Report (AR5). After a week of intense deliberations in Stockholm, Qin Dahe, co-chair of the working group that produced the report, summarized the findings, revealing that “the atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amount of snow and ice has diminished, the global mean sea level has risen and that concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased.” And perhaps more importantly—in case there remained an inkling of doubt—humans are definitely to blame. Read more »

The Realist Idealist: Obama’s UN Speech

by Stewart M. Patrick Tuesday, September 24, 2013
U.S. President Barack Obama addresses the 68th United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York, September 24, 2013 (Mike Segar/ Courtesy Reuters). U.S. President Barack Obama addresses the 68th United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York, September 24, 2013 (Mike Segar/ Courtesy Reuters).

President Barack Obama stuck to the anticipated script in his UN General Assembly address, focusing on diplomatic openings in the Middle East. He outlined U.S. hopes to: Read more »

High Stakes UN Diplomacy on Syria and Iran

by Stewart M. Patrick Monday, September 23, 2013
New York police officers stand guard in front of the U.N. headquarters ahead of the start of the U.N. General Assembly in New York September 22, 2013 (Eduardo Munoz/ Courtesy Reuters). New York police officers stand guard in front of the U.N. headquarters ahead of the start of the U.N. General Assembly in New York September 22, 2013 (Eduardo Munoz/ Courtesy Reuters).

Two issues will dominate this week’s annual summit of world leaders as the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) kicks off its sixty-eighth session in New York. The first is Syria, whose government must begin to deliver on commitments to eliminate its chemical weapons, even as its civil war grinds on. The second is Iran, whose new president, Hassan Rouhani, has signaled a potential deal with the West over his nation’s nuclear program. Read more »

Russia’s Syria Initiative: Beware Strangers Bearing Gifts

by Stewart M. Patrick Thursday, September 12, 2013
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (R) after delivering opening remarks to the media before their meeting to discuss the ongoing crisis in Syria, in Geneva September 12, 2013. Syria applied on Thursday to sign up to the global ban on chemical weapons, a major first step in a Russian-backed plan that would see it abandon its arsenal of poison gas to avert U.S. military strikes (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters). U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (R) after delivering opening remarks to the media before their meeting to discuss the ongoing crisis in Syria, in Geneva September 12, 2013. Syria applied on Thursday to sign up to the global ban on chemical weapons, a major first step in a Russian-backed plan that would see it abandon its arsenal of poison gas to avert U.S. military strikes (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters).

Moscow has seized the initiative in the increasingly dizzying diplomacy over Syria’s chemical weapons (CW). By picking up on Secretary of State John Kerry’s offhand remark—that Damascus might avoid a U.S. military strike by eliminating its CW stockpiles—Vladimir Putin has offered a lifeline to a beleaguered White House. Bereft of domestic and international support for a hard line against Bashar al Assad, Barack Obama must be sorely tempted to make this new initiative work. After all, by disarming Syria of chemical weapons, he can declare “victory” without dragging an exhausted American public into another Middle Eastern quagmire. But before making this leap, the President needs to take a hard look at the political as well as technical requirements for an effective inspection regime. Read more »

Obama and Syria: Insights from the President’s G20 Press Conference

by Stewart M. Patrick Friday, September 6, 2013
U.S. President Barack Obama departs a news conference at the G20 Summit in St. Petersburg September 6, 2013. Obama said on Friday that most leaders of the G20 countries agree that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is responsible for using poison gas against civilians as the U.S. leader tried to rally support at home and abroad for a military strike (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters). U.S. President Barack Obama departs a news conference at the G20 Summit in St. Petersburg September 6, 2013. Obama said on Friday that most leaders of the G20 countries agree that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is responsible for using poison gas against civilians as the U.S. leader tried to rally support at home and abroad for a military strike (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters).

In his revealing press conference closing out the G20 summit, President Obama provided the clearest summary yet of his thinking on Syria. Perhaps the most significant points were the following: Read more »

Syria Shows Why the G20 Needs a Foreign Ministers Track

by Stewart M. Patrick Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Russia's President Vladimir Putin leaves a meeting next to Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during the the G20 Summit in Los Cabos in June 2012 (Victor Ruiz, Courtesy Reuters). Russia's President Vladimir Putin leaves a meeting next to Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during the the G20 Summit in Los Cabos in June 2012 (Victor Ruiz, Courtesy Reuters).

Ever since President George W. Bush invited leaders of the Group of Twenty (G20) to Washington five years ago, the annual summit agenda has been dominated by finance ministers and central bank governors. For a while, that made sense. After all, the rationale for the G20 was to rescue the world from the depths of the financial crisis and get the global recovery up and running. Afraid of diluting the body’s effectiveness, Barack Obama and his foreign counterparts resisted expanding the group’s remit beyond traditional economic issues like monetary and fiscal policy, financial regulation, trade liberalization, and development. Read more »

Keeping Cool in St. Petersburg: Criteria for a Successful G20 Summit

by Stewart M. Patrick Tuesday, September 3, 2013
A banner of the G20 Summit hangs at a ship station on the bank of the Neva river in St. Petersburg, September 1, 2013. G20 leaders will meet in St. Petersburg on September 5 and 6, according to the official website (Alexander Demianchuk/Courtesy Reuters). A banner of the G20 Summit hangs at a ship station on the bank of the Neva river in St. Petersburg, September 1, 2013. G20 leaders will meet in St. Petersburg on September 5 and 6, according to the official website (Alexander Demianchuk/Courtesy Reuters).

Call it the summit of “compartmentalizing”. When President Obama and fellow leaders convene in St. Petersburg, their toughest challenge will be to focus on economic recovery while ignoring the elephant in the room: namely, the rift between host Russia and the United States on a possible U.S. military strike to punish Syrian use of chemical weapons. Setting aside diplomatic acrimony—and personal animosity between Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin—will not be easy. But it is imperative to ensure coordinated multilateral support for global growth and meet past G20 pledges. Read more »