Stewart M. Patrick

The Internationalist

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

Obama at West Point: He Likes Ike

by Stewart M. Patrick Wednesday, May 28, 2014
West Point Obama Foreign Policy Graduation Speech Commencement U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with graduates during a commencement ceremony at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, May 28, 2014 (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters).

Twelve years ago, having already decided on a course of war with Iraq, President George W. Bush traveled to the U.S. Military Academy on June 1, 2002, to announce a new doctrine of unilateral “preemption.”  Today his successor Barack Obama delivered a very different message to West Point’s graduating seniors: The true measure of U.S. strength lies not in its capacity to act alone but in its ability to marshall international institutions and lead coalitions to advance common interests. His speech was an eloquent, reasoned defense of moderate internationalism. At the same time, it is unlikely to satisfy either self-styled “realists” who bemoan his failure to set strategic priorities or interventionists who criticize his unwillingness to use military might to advance the cause of freeom. Read more »

Voting Against Accountability for Syria

by Stewart M. Patrick Thursday, May 22, 2014
Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin votes in the United Nations Security Council against referring the Syrian crisis to the International Criminal Court for investigation of possible war crimes at the U.N. headquarters in New York May 22, 2014 (Lucas Jackson/Courtesy Reuters).

Coauthored with Claire Schachter, research associate in the International Institutions and Global Governance program.

Today the UN Security Council voted on a French draft resolution referring the situation in Syria—where government forces have systematically slaughtered civilians—to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Russia and China vetoed the resolution. While not surprising, the double veto is enormously frustrating to those demanding a stronger international response to war crimes in Syria. To some observers, the failure of this referral may signal the impossibility of ensuring accountability in a context of geopolitical rivalry. But the Obama administration’s decision to support the resolution, even in the face of near certain defeat, was appropriate and necessary—appropriate in light of its evolving relationship with the ICC and necessary given its limited options for ending the conflict in Syria. Read more »