Stewart M. Patrick

The Internationalist

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

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Showing posts for "U.S. Sovereignty"

World Order: What, Exactly, are the Rules?

by Stewart M. Patrick
Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Joseph Stalin sit for photographs during the Yalta Conference in February 1945. Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Joseph Stalin sit for photographs during the Yalta Conference in February 1945 (Courtesy Imperial War Museums).

The international rules-based order established after World War II seems to be under relentless pressure, threatening its foundations existentially. If so, what if anything can be done to reinvigorate it? This question raises several others a priori. First, what are the most distinctive attributes of the post-1945 world order; how did that order come into being; and what explains its longevity? Second, what forces are now placing this order under strain? Third, what aspects of today’s order are most vulnerable—and which are most resilient? Fourth, what principles, frameworks, and objectives should guide U.S. policy toward world order going forward? In my new article in The Washington Quarterly, I aim to answer those fundamental questions. Read more »

Making Sense of “Minilateralism”: The Pros and Cons of Flexible Cooperation

by Stewart M. Patrick
The leaders of the Council of the European Union, Canada, France, the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, Japan, China, and the EU Commission meet on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague on March 24, 2014. The leaders of the Council of the European Union, Canada, France, the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, Japan, China, and the EU Commission meet on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague on March 24, 2014 (Jerry Lampen/Reuters).

A defining feature of twenty-first century multilateralism is the rising prominence of alternative forms of collective action as complements to—and often substitutes for—traditional intergovernmental cooperation. Conventional bodies—chief among them, the United Nations and the Bretton Woods institutions—may persist, but states increasingly participate in a bewildering array of flexible, ad hoc frameworks whose membership varies based on situational interests, shared values, or relevant capabilities. These institutions are often “minilateral” rather than universal; voluntary rather than legally binding; disaggregated rather than comprehensive; trans-governmental rather than just intergovernmental; regional rather than global; multi-level and multi-stakeholder rather than state-centric; and “bottom-up” rather than “top-down.” We see this across issue areas, from the Group of Seven (G7) and Group of Twenty (G20) in the realm of economic cooperation, to the growing importance of regional organizations like the African Union and ASEAN, to the emergence of alternative international financial institutions, like the BRICS New Development Bank. Read more »

Multilateralism à la Carte: The New World of Global Governance

by Stewart M. Patrick
A view of the United Nations headquarters in New York. A view of the United Nations headquarters in New York (Eric Thayer/Reuters).

Back in 2001, State Department policy planning director Richard N. Haass coined a catchy new foreign policy phrase: “multilateralism à la carte.” Asked by the New York Times about why the administration of George W. Bush rejected high-profile international treaties like the International Criminal Court, he denied that the White House was “unilateralist”—it was just “choosy.” Rather than sign up to every new commitment, the United States would pick and choose based on which treaty or organization brought more bang for the buck and limited constraints on U.S. freedom of action. Read more »

The Odd Couple: Democrats, Republicans, and the New Politics of Trade

by Stewart M. Patrick
A policewoman removes a man protesting the Transpacific Partnership (TPP) as U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman testifies before a Senate Finance Committee hearing on January 27, 2015. A policewoman removes a man protesting the Transpacific Partnership (TPP) as U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman testifies before a Senate Finance Committee hearing on January 27, 2015 (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters).

Politics, as the saying goes, makes strange bedfellows. This is certainly true in today’s fast-changing U.S. trade debate. The Obama administration has counted on strong GOP support for the centerpiece of its second term agenda: the Transpacific Partnership (TPP). Suddenly, right-wing Republicans are making common cause with left-wing Democrats, attacking the proposed twelve-nation blockbuster deal. The reason for this odd coupling? A little thing called sovereignty. Read more »

More Treaty Gridlock: Another Impact of GOP Senate Takeover

by Stewart M. Patrick
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell holds a news conference on the day after he was re-elected to the U.S. Senate at the University of Louisville in Louisville, Kentucky, on November 5, 2014. U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell holds a news conference on the day after he was re-elected to the U.S. Senate at the University of Louisville in Louisville, Kentucky, on November 5, 2014 (John Sommers II/Courtesy Reuters).

The Republican takeover of the Senate reduces the chance that the United States will ratify any important multilateral treaties over the next two years. Facing a GOP-controlled legislature, President Obama will focus his executive authority on salvaging what remains of his domestic agenda, rather than playing hardball in the field of foreign policy.With the exception of trade agreements—endorsed by incoming majority leader Mitch McConnell—don’t look for any movement on treaties. Read more »

Obama at West Point: He Likes Ike

by Stewart M. Patrick
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 »

“Still Ours to Lead:” Bruce Jones Explains Why the World Still Looks to the United States

by Stewart M. Patrick
U.S. president Barak Obama surrounded by leaders during the NATO summit in Lisbon, November 19, 2010.  (Yves Herman /Courtesy Reuters) U.S. president Barak Obama surrounded by leaders during the NATO summit in Lisbon, November 19, 2010. (Yves Herman /Courtesy Reuters)

Manifestoes about U.S. “decline,” have become a publishing juggernaut. But this literature is demolished in a beautifully written, persuasive new book from Bruce Jones, the Brookings Institution senior fellow. In Still Ours to Lead: America, Rising Powers, and the Tension between Rivalry and Restraint, Jones explains that the declinists have it all wrong. First, on nearly every measure of material power, the United States is the world’s dominant player—and will remain so for some time. Second, there is no plausible alternative to U.S. leadership, given weaknesses within and divisions among major emerging powers. Third, the United States remains the undeniable and indispensable pivot of world politics; it is the only player capable of forging effective global partnerships to confront pressing transnational threats. Lastly, most rising powers in today’s world have at least as many incentives to exercise strategic restraint as they do to engage in rivalry with the United States. In short, the United States is an “enduring” rather than declining power. And the world is still its to lead. Read more »

Brazil’s Internet Summit: Building Bridges to Avoid “Splinternet”

by Stewart M. Patrick
In this photo illustration, a man holds an iPad with a Facebook application in an office building at the Pudong financial district in Shanghai, September 25, 2013 (Carlos Barria/Courtesy Reuters). In this photo illustration, a man holds an iPad with a Facebook application in an office building at the Pudong financial district in Shanghai, September 25, 2013 (Carlos Barria/Courtesy Reuters).

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

Netizens of the world are in Sao Paulo this week for the Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance (April 23-24). The Brazilian Internet Steering Committee (CGI.br), which organized the gathering in partnership with ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), have high hopes for “NETmundial,” where they hope universal principles for Internet governance will be negotiated. The good news for the United States is that participants seem committed to establishing consensus-based public policies to safeguard the web’s open architecture—as well as to rebooting rather than replacing a multistakeholder governance model that gives equal weight to governments, the private sector, and civil society. Read more »

Obama’s State of the Union: Epitaph for Neoconservatism

by Stewart M. Patrick
Vice President Joe Biden and Speaker of the House John Boehner applaud as President Barack Obama finishes his State of the Union speech on Capitol Hill in Washington, January 28, 2014 (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters). Vice President Joe Biden and Speaker of the House John Boehner applaud as President Barack Obama finishes his State of the Union speech on Capitol Hill in Washington, January 28, 2014 (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters).

As anticipated, President Obama’s State of the Union address focused overwhelmingly on domestic matters, notably steps to close the yawning income inequality in American society. Still, the speech contained important signals about Barack Obama’s approach to U.S. foreign policy in his last 1,000 days in office. Beyond a full-throated declaration that “climate change is a fact” and a plea to “fix our broken immigration system,” three broad leitmotifs jumped out. The first was the need to return to normalcy after a dozen frenzied years of the global war on terrorism. The second was the imperative of giving diplomacy a chance to resolve the gravest security threats. The third, more rhetorical than substantive, was the necessity of reframing the language of American exceptionalism. Read more »

Understanding the New Frontier: Internet Governance Trade-Offs

by Guest Blogger for Stewart M. Patrick
Server rooms and Internet exchanges serve as the physical infrastructure of our global network. Recent efforts to bring this infrastructure under sovereign control have been rebuffed thus far with further challenges likely to follow (Lisi Niesner/Courtesy Reuters). Server rooms and Internet exchanges serve as the physical infrastructure of our global network. Recent efforts to bring this infrastructure under sovereign control have been rebuffed thus far with further challenges likely to follow (Lisi Niesner/Courtesy Reuters).

Below is a guest post by Andrew Reddie, research associate in the International Institutions and Global Governance program.

The nation could be forgiven its current case of technological whiplash. Last week it learned that the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court  had ordered Verizon to collect all of its customers’ data between January and April of this year. Then came Ed Snowden’s claims of the massive breadth of the NSA’s PRISM program, and the news that Microsoft has, along with the FBI, neutralized over ten thousand botnets in “Operation Citadel.” These revelations suggested that the boundaries between privacy and the surveillance state had shifted fundamentally, with profound legal, security, and social ramifications. Read more »