Stewart M. Patrick

The Internationalist

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

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Showing posts for "Weak and Failing States"

States of Failure and Disunion, at Home and Abroad

by Stewart M. Patrick
U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his final State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress in Washington, DC, on January 12, 2016. U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his final State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress in Washington, DC, on January 12, 2016 (Carlos Barria/Reuters).

President Obama delivered an unusually thoughtful State of the Union address last night. Appropriate for his valedictory speech to Congress, the president skipped the usual laundry list of legislative priorities and chose to “talk about the future” instead. He implored his fellow Americans see the world as it is—and the United States as it could be. If there was a unifying theme, it was the growing threat posed by state failure, both domestic and international. The questions that lingered were two: Do Americans have the will to overcome political dysfunction at home? Does the United States have the capacity to ameliorate it abroad? Read more »

Fiddling in Yemen: A Messy War’s Lessons for Global Conflict Management

by Stewart M. Patrick and Guest Blogger for Stewart M. Patrick
Protesters demonstrate against the Saudi-led air strikes outside the United Nations offices in Sana'a, Yemen, on November 2, 2015. Protesters demonstrate against the Saudi-led air strikes outside the United Nations offices in Sana'a, Yemen, on November 2, 2015 (Khaled Abdullah/Reuters).

Coauthored with Callie Plapinger, intern in the International Institutions and Global Governance program at the Council on Foreign Relations.

As the world watches Syria burn, a tiny glimmer of hope shines in Yemen. Today, the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee disclosed that it will use new oversight powers to more closely monitor U.S. weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, which for nine months has been carrying out a brutal campaign against Houthi rebels that’s left thousands of civilians dead. The news comes on the heels of an announcement earlier this week by Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, the United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen, that he would begin a renewed push for peace talks in Geneva next week. To be sure, near-term prospects for peace are low, given the conflicting interests of Saudi Arabia and Iran and the growing presence of both al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the self-proclaimed Islamic State. Even so, the United States should welcome the UN’s latest initiative. More broadly, it should consider what Yemen teaches about the limits of backing proxy interventions—and the need to build up the UN’s multilateral conflict management capabilities. Read more »

Après Paris: Reverberations of the Terrorist Attacks

by Stewart M. Patrick
In a French poster popularized during World War I, a French soldier carries a gun and encourages his countrymen under the phrase "On les aura!" or "We will have them!" In a French poster popularized during World War I, a French soldier carries a gun and encourages his countrymen under the phrase "On les aura!" or "We will have them!" (Abel Faivre/Library of Congress).

Following Friday’s horrific assault on Paris—the world’s most vibrant monument to the open society—there is a welcome global determination to crush the Islamic State. There can be no negotiation with this apocalyptic movement. The international response against the perpetrators must be, in the words of French President François Hollande, “pitiless.” Achieving this aim will require a broad coalition, including not only NATO allies but also strange bedfellows like Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Iran. There will be necessary debates, of course—about whether to introduce Western (including U.S.) ground forces in Syria and Iraq, about whether to treat the Assad regime as an enemy, bystander, or partner in this effort, and about how the West can escalate its involvement without sparking the global religious war that ISIS desires. An effective response will require the Obama administration to be out in front: there must be no leading from behind in this effort. Read more »

President Obama Tackles UN Peacekeeping

by Stewart M. Patrick
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at a news conference at the conclusion of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit at the State Department in Washington, DC, on August 6, 2014. U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at a news conference at the conclusion of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit at the State Department in Washington, DC, on August 6, 2014 (Larry Downing/Reuters).

Few global summits can compete with the opening of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). All the world’s a stage, but the spotlight shines brightest each September in Manhattan, as global leaders gather for UN’s “back to school” night. But while most attention will focus on speeches from the green marble podium, the real action will occur offstage. This year’s most important side event is a special Monday afternoon session on UN peacekeeping, convened by President Barack Obama himself and involving leaders of fifty countries. Its outcome will help determine whether the United Nations gets serious about updating the most important weapon in its arsenal to the realities of the twenty-first century. Read more »

The Good, the Bad, and the Sad of the High-Level Report on UN Peace Operations

by Guest Blogger for Stewart M. Patrick
Helmets belonging to soldiers of the Nigerian army are seen as part of preparations for their deployment to Mali. Helmets belonging to soldiers of the Nigerian army are seen as part of preparations for their deployment to Mali (Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters).

The following is a guest post by Charles T. Call, associate professor in American University’s School of International Service and author of Why Peace Fails: The Causes and Prevention of Civil War Recurrence (Georgetown University Press, 2012). Read more »

Understanding a Framework Convention on Global Health

by Guest Blogger for Stewart M. Patrick
A Sierra Leonean soldier walks past protective clothing drying on a fence in the Ebola Training Academy in Freetown, Sierra Leone, on December 16, 2014. A Sierra Leonean soldier walks past protective clothing drying on a fence in the Ebola Training Academy in Freetown, Sierra Leone, on December 16, 2014 (Baz Ratner/Courtesy Reuters).

The following is a guest post by my colleague Yanzhong Huang, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations.

For years, a group of global health scholars and practitioners have been pushing for the idea of a legally binding global health treaty—a framework convention on global health (FCGH). Grounded in the right to health, FCGH is anticipated to close the health gap between and within countries. The 2014 Ebola outbreak has highlighted the health disadvantages experienced by marginalized and poor populations in West Africa. Last week, Lawrence Gostin, University Professor and founding O’Neill Chair in Global Health Law at Georgetown University, and Lance Gable, associate dean for academic affairs and associate professor of law at Wayne State University, visited the Council on Foreign Relations to share their views on the prospects for FCGH and what it could accomplish in the realm of global health governance. Listen to this podcast for a “to-the-point” discussion of these issues and the important insights of Professors Gostin and Gable. Read more »

Transnational Terrorism: Three Things to Know

by Stewart M. Patrick
An armed French soldier stands beneath the Eiffel Tower days after the terrorist attacks against the offices of the Charlie Hebdo magazine and a kosher supermarket in Paris, France. An armed French soldier stands beneath the Eiffel Tower days after the terrorist attacks against the offices of the Charlie Hebdo magazine and a kosher supermarket in Paris, France (Eric Gaillard/Courtesy Reuters).

Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, combating transnational terrorism has remained a priority for the United States and countries around the world. However, the threat posed by terrorism today is fundamentally different than the one that we confronted on 9/11, as are the tools that we are now bringing to bear against it. Read more »

Course Correction: WHO Reform after Ebola

by Stewart M. Patrick and Guest Blogger for Stewart M. Patrick
World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Margaret Chan addresses the media during the Executive Board's special session on Ebola on January 25, 2015. World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Margaret Chan addresses the media during the Executive Board's special session on Ebola on January 25, 2015 (Pierre Albouy/Courtesy Reuters).

Coauthored with Daniel Chardell, research associate in the International Institutions and Global Governance program at the Council on Foreign Relations. Read more »

Ebola Reveals Gaps in Global Epidemic Response

by Stewart M. Patrick and Guest Blogger for Stewart M. Patrick
Health workers screen patients for the Ebola virus at a local government hospital in Kenema, Sierra Leone, on June 30, 2014. Health workers screen patients for the Ebola virus at a local government hospital in Kenema, Sierra Leone, on June 30, 2014 (Tommy Trenchard/Courtesy Reuters).

Coauthored with Daniel Chardell, research associate in the International Institutions and Global Governance program.
Read more »

Voting Against Accountability for Syria

by Stewart M. Patrick
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). 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 »