I imagine Steve figured his “Happy 4th of July” post would stay up here throughout the holiday, but I’m bumping it down to announce my triumphant return to The Washington Note and explain my two-week absence.
I’ve spent some time in New York and Minneapolis for birthdays and weddings, respectively, but the balance has been spent talking with Congress about various aspects of America’s nonmilitary global engagement.
Some of this has been education on the Law of the Sea and an exciting proposal to make UN peacekeeping and disaster relief more responsive (I’ll have more later on that). For the most part, though, I’ve been knee-deep – ok, maybe only ankle-deep – in the Congressional appropriations process, and I’ll have more to share on the good, the bad, and the ugly in a couple of days.
In the meantime, Anne-Marie Slaughter has a quickie in Foreign Policy this month that’s worth a read.
Foreign Policy also publishes an important poll this month that illustrates the obvious rule – that faith in U.S. global leadership is waning – and notes some exceptions. Slaughter’s general thoughts on American exceptionalism as the cause of this decline are on point, if a little vague. She does lay out five specific recommendations to stop the bleeding:
[F]irst, close Guantanamo and work with other nations on a shared understanding of the rules for the interrogation of terrorism suspects; second, commit to specific carbon emissions targets and a cap and trade system; third, ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and negotiate with other nuclear states to begin major cuts of nuclear arsenals in the spirit of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty; fourth, make room at the Security Council table for emerging powers such as India and Brazil, as well as Germany, Japan, two African nations, and at least one major Muslim country at any given point; and finally, bring peace between Israel and Palestine, or at least, in the words of the Clinton administration, “get caught trying.”
Some variation on each of these five points would be among my top five or ten as well, but I’d have to expand on each of them in a nitpicky way to feel good about including them.
Point 1: Closing Guantanamo would be there, but I fail to see why a new “shared understanding” for detainee treatment is necessary when the Geneva Conventions are a perfectly good starting point. Similarly, how is the U.S. going to buttress international law while still punishing International Criminal Court member states for fulfilling their treaty obligations?
Point 2: Emissions caps and a cap & trade system need to happen; I’d add a serious commitment to climate adaptation and a more substantial focus on the nexus between energy and development – one key place where American neglect has left its brand badly damaged.
Point 3: Ratifying the CTBT and reducing nuclear arsenals is a good start, but we need to think bigger. The next president is going to have to undertake a serious diplomatic effort to revamp and boost up the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in the face of new security realities.
Point 4: Slaughter gets the Security Council reform piece just right. That said, Security Council reform is just one part of the larger UN reform puzzle, and it’s a puzzle that must be solved in a holistic and comprehensive way.
Finally, Point 5: Resolving the Israeli-Palestinian problem is crucial, and the next president is going to need to look at it in a regional context. How can progress between Israelis and Palestinians leverage (or be leveraged by) Lebanese political and economic development, Iranian nuclear ambitions, new negotiations with Syria, and democratic reforms in Egypt and Saudi Arabia?
These are more expansions on Slaughter’s points than critiques of them, and I don’t doubt that Slaughter might have expanded similarly if she had the space to do so. Her general points are as good a place as any to start the conversation.
— Scott Paul