Archive for the ‘Topics’ Category

5
Apr

The Silence of Rex Tillerson

Written on April 5, 2017 by Waya Quiviger in Americas, Foreign Policy

One would not expect the secretary of defense routinely to inspect the sentries and walk point on patrols, but, in effect, that is what the secretary of state has to do. He is the chief executive of a department numbering in the tens of thousands, and a budget in the tens of billions; but he is also the country’s chief diplomat, charged with conducting negotiations and doing much of the detailed work of American foreign policy. Americans expect him as well to serve as the president’s senior constitutionally accountable adviser on such matters, and as the expositor of an administration’s foreign policy.

It is not unprecedented for a president to install a business executive as secretary of state. After all, George Shultz, one of the outstanding 20th-century occupants of that office, came to Foggy Bottom from Bechtel. But then again, Shultz had a rich array of experiences under his belt in addition to a successful business career—he had taught economics at MIT and the University of Chicago, and served as both secretary of labor and the first director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Tillerson resembles Shultz in what is, by all accounts, sterling character—honest, considerate, soft-spoken, but effective at managing a large business. There is no reason to doubt his integrity or good judgment. But in his first few months as secretary of state his performance suggests both his limits (which he may transcend) and more fundamental proclivities of the Trump administration (which he almost certainly cannot).

During his short tenure the following has happened: His top pick for deputy secretary of state was shot down at the last minute in a bit of palace intrigue; his boss has proposed slashing his department’s budget by 29 percent; his press operation at the State Department went dark for several weeks, after which the interim spokesman made a (good) statement in support of Russian demonstrators and was promptly moved; he decided to get rid of the usual press entourage on his inaugural overseas trip to Asia; he nearly skipped a meeting of NATO foreign ministers, pulling back in the nick of time to spend only a few hours on the ground in Brussels; he has been preceded on a visit to Iraq by the princeling of the Trump administration, Jared Kushner, whose remit includes China and Middle East peace, among other things. And on the great issues of American foreign policy—nothing. Read more…

Published on April 4 by Eliot Cohen in the atlantic.com

1
Feb

 

 

On January 30th, students from the Bachelor and Master in International Relations had the unique opportunity to dialogue with a true man of peace, former President of Timor-Leste (2007-2012) José Ramos-Horta. On his way to Bogota, where he had been invited by President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia, to help him in the process of building peace after decades of conflict, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate (1996) and member of the Club of Madrid José Ramos-Horta stopped by Madrid and visited IE School of International Relations.

José Ramos-Horta is a journalist and political activist who, along with Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo, received the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to lead Timor-Leste, a former Portuguese colony that was under Indonesian control from 1975 to 1999, into a peaceful transition to independence. “Today, there are no countries in Asia that have a better relationship than Timor-Leste and Indonesia”, a relationship that has impressed everyone, even Shimon Peres, former President of Israel.

How was that possible? By “making prevention a doctrine”, by having humble leaders who listen their people, make education a priority and managing the country’s resources in a reasonable way. José Ramos-Horta served as Prime Minister of Timor-Leste from 2006 to 2007 and as President from 2007 to 2012, a period of time in which several oil and gas reserves were discovered in Timor-Leste, bringing rapid economic growth to the country. “One of the smartest things we did, explained José Ramos-Horta, was the national sovereign fund, where all oil and gas revenues go”. In 6 years, Timor-Leste collected $16 Billion, divided into 1.000 portfolios.

In 2013, José Ramos-Horta became the United Nations’ special Representative and Head of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS). A year later, he was appointed by Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-Moon to chair the United Nations High Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations. The Panel drafted a comprehensive report in 2015, providing observations and recommendation to keep building Peace. Some of these recommendations have certainly inspired the Colombian President José Manuel Santos in his negotiations with the FARCs. But José Ramos-Horta warns us: “each country is different and has to find its own peace.” His advice to Colombia: “it’s time to forgive, not to forget”.

Written by Soizic Belliard, Associate Director of Admissions, IE School of International Relations

 

12
Jan

ERIC ROSAND is Director of The Prevention Project: Organizing Against Violent Extremism and former Senior Counterterrorism Official at the U.S. Department of State.

The United Nations is not only imperfect, it is also misunderstood. Somewhat predictably, U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans unleashed a torrent of criticism against the UN Security Council’s adoption of a resolution [1] on December 23 condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. To express his disapproval, Trump described the institution as “just a club for people to get together, talk, and have a good time [2]” and went on to suggest that “if it is causing problems rather than solving them … it will be a waste of time and money [3] if it doesn’t start living up to its potential.” Several U.S. lawmakers [4] have since demanded that the United States restrict its funding for the global body over the Security Council vote and former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin even went as far as to call on the United States to leave the UN.

The United Nations’ failures, of course, are well known. Less known is what it gets right, and on this score even Trump should find much to love in the institution. Indeed, if his administration hopes to, as he says, work with all “freedom loving partners [5]” to eradicate terrorism, he will need the UN, warts [6] and all.

In the post–9/11 era—and often at the behest of U.S. Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama—the UN has played a central role in globalizing the fight against terrorism and strengthening international cooperation and capacities to defeat al Qaeda, the Islamic State (ISIS), and other terrorist groups. Less than three weeks after 9/11, Bush relied on the UN Security Council to require [7] all countries to reboot or upgrade their counterterrorism laws. As a result, dozens of nations put in place new legal measures to crack down on terrorists and their financiers. Obama likewise went to the UN when he sought [8] to tighten sanctions against and cut off financial flows to ISIS and to push the White House agenda to counter violent extremism around the world [9]. Critical U.S. partners, including China, India, and Russia, and Muslim-majority countries ranging from Egypt to Indonesia, now generally insist that all nonmilitary counterterrorism measures (such as the tightening of border controls, investigating and prosecuting terrorists, or countering radicalization at home) be grounded in some way on the UN counterterrorism framework that evolved rapidly after 9/11. This framework is seen as being in compliance with international law and therefore carries broad global legitimacy, in large part because it is derived from the UN Charter itself. Read more…

www.foreignaffairs.com

10 Jan. 2017

31
Dec

How to make sense of 2016

Written on December 31, 2016 by Waya Quiviger in Foreign Policy, Global Economy, Op Ed

FOR a certain kind of liberal, 2016 stands as a rebuke. If you believe, as The Economist does, in open economies and open societies, where the free exchange of goods, capital, people and ideas is encouraged and where universal freedoms are protected from state abuse by the rule of law, then this has been a year of setbacks. Not just over Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, but also the tragedy of Syria, abandoned to its suffering, and widespread support—in Hungary, Poland and beyond—for “illiberal democracy”. As globalisation has become a slur, nationalism, and even authoritarianism, have flourished. In Turkey relief at the failure of a coup was overtaken by savage (and popular) reprisals. In the Philippines voters chose a president who not only deployed death squads but bragged about pulling the trigger. All the while Russia, which hacked Western democracy, and China, which just last week set out to taunt America by seizing one of its maritime drones, insist liberalism is merely a cover for Western expansion.

Faced with this litany, many liberals (of the free-market sort) have lost their nerve. Some have written epitaphs for the liberal order and issued warnings about the threat to democracy. Others argue that, with a timid tweak to immigration law or an extra tariff, life will simply return to normal. That is not good enough. The bitter harvest of 2016 has not suddenly destroyed liberalism’s claim to be the best way to confer dignity and bring about prosperity and equity. Rather than ducking the struggle of ideas, liberals should relish it. Read more…

The Economist,

20
Dec

Why America was bound to fail in Syria

Written on December 20, 2016 by Waya Quiviger in Foreign Policy, Middle East, Op Ed

The fall of Aleppo is a human catastrophe. It’s also a demonstration of the perils of choosing the middle course in a military conflict. Sometimes it’s possible to talk and fight at the same time. But in Syria, the U.S. decision to pursue a dual-track, halfway approach made the mayhem worse.

A battered Secretary of State John F. Kerry made one more plea Thursday for a peaceful evacuation of what’s left of Aleppo. At a State Department briefing, he used the strongest language to describe the situation: “Another Srebrenica . . . nothing short of a massacre . . . indiscriminate slaughter . . . a cynical policy of terrorizing civilians.”

But for five years, the United States’ actions haven’t matched its rhetoric. Kerry’s only real weapon now is the gruesome suffering of the Syrian people and the shame it engenders in everyone who watches. That shame hangs over this administration, too.

Kerry’s critics argue that his efforts to negotiate a settlement were always doomed to failure. Maybe so, but after the Russian military intervention in September 2015, the administration concluded that diplomacy was the only viable strategy in Aleppo. Having made that decision, officials needed to make it work. Instead, they continued to toy with an armed opposition they weren’t prepared to fully support. Read more…

 Opinion writer December 15

www.washingtonpost.com

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