For an American who had a hand in shaping U.S. Mideast policy during the Barack Obama years, coming to Yemen has the unpleasant feel of visiting the scene of a tragedy one helped co-write.
It is a scene whose most heartrending aspects are not easily accessible to a visitor. It is still possible to travel north, to the war-battered capital, Sanaa, now controlled by the Houthi insurgent group, or up the Red Sea coast, where a catastrophic struggle for control over the port city of Hodeida still looms, but it’s a challenge. So when one of us recently ventured into the country, the journey went no farther than Aden, the southern port city over which the internationally recognised government regained control early in the conflict with the help of a Saudi-led coalition.… Seguir leyendo »
Doubts and questions swirled before the momentous 12 June summit in Singapore between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Could any good come of a meeting for which preparation seemed to be last-minute and inadequate? Was one of the two unconventional, risk-taking leaders going to pull a rabbit out of a hat? Whose purposes would the summit serve? Was it theatre channelling the domestic political compulsions of Trump and/or Kim? Would it live up to the hopes and calm the fears of U.S. allies South Korea and Japan? Would it bolster or weaken regional security and the balance of power?… Seguir leyendo »
After three months of palace intrigue, speculation and on-again-off-again pronouncements, the Singapore summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un is finally upon us. The core question is whether this historic meeting between two idiosyncratic leaders who were just months ago exchanging taunts like “Little Rocket Man” and “dotard,” and one-upping each other’s threats of nuclear annihilation, can help find a path toward denuclearization and stability for the Korean Peninsula.
We both worked in the Obama White House but this is not a partisan matter and we are rooting wholeheartedly for this administration’s success. Nobody will benefit if the leaders walk away from the summit disappointed and frustrated, and there’s certainly some risk of that.… Seguir leyendo »
When Mike Pompeo sits down on 12 April before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, there will be plenty to talk about. Mr Pompeo has of course been nominated to succeed to Rex Tillerson as secretary of state, and he will doubtless face questions about everything from whether he plans to reverse the decline of the State Department’s budget, human capital and influence, to his highly controversial and oftentimes incendiary views on Islam, to a history of statements suggesting a higher-than-desirable level of comfort with torture.
But nothing that the senators raise with Mike Pompeo will be more important than core questions of war and peace.… Seguir leyendo »
Since late November—when the International Criminal Court’s Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, announced that she would seek permission to open an investigation into the situation in Afghanistan that includes allegations against U.S. personnel—the United States and the ICC have been on a slow motion collision course. But it’s still not clear whether that collision will happen. Both parties have good reason to maneuver past each other and some means to do it. The stakes are high for the court, and how these maneuvers unfold could have a profound impact on its future work.
Why Washington should not want a collision with the ICC
As I described in November, and John Bellinger more recently detailed, the George W.… Seguir leyendo »
President Trump’s announcement that John Bolton would become his third national security advisor hit foreign policy circles like a minor earthquake last week. Bolton had long been rumoured to be waiting in the wings to take over from H.R. McMaster, who clashed both with the president and with powerful principals like Secretary of Defense James Mattis, but the reality was still bracing for anyone familiar with Bolton’s long and controversial professional history.
Bolton, of course, gained notoriety in the George W. Bush administration where he advocated for the disastrous Iraq war and generated such a toxic reputation for twisting intelligence and abusing subordinates at the State Department that a Republican-controlled Senate declined to confirm him as U.S.… Seguir leyendo »
In ancient Greece, any and all warfare would pause ahead of the Olympic Games so that athletes and spectators could travel safely to the big event.
That’s not too far from what’s happening on the Korean Peninsula. After a year of mounting tension, North and South Korea have stumbled into a period of self-imposed calm. It’s not just that in the lead-up to the Pyeongchang games, which start on February 9, the two neighbors have agreed to field a unified women’s hockey team and parade together at the opening ceremony under a single flag. It’s that they’ve quietly entered into a de facto Olympic truce.… Seguir leyendo »
The Trump administration struck a blow to yet another multilateral institution this month when it slashed funding to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency. UNRWA is not a perfect institution, but it has provided critical humanitarian services, including healthcare and education, to Palestinian refugees since 1950. What will be next on the chopping block? We fear it may be the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva.
After all, Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., has placed caustic criticism of the council near the center of the U.S. government’s current U.N. policy. Even before it withdrew from the U.N. Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, turned its back on the U.N.… Seguir leyendo »
As states gathered earlier this month to kick off the 16th Session of the Assembly of States Parties to the International Criminal Court, ICC watchers wondered what to expect from the United States at this difficult moment in its relationship with the court.
Indeed, it was hardly a foregone conclusion that the United States would show up at all. Not an ICC state party, the United States had during the Obama Administration developed the practice of attending Assembly meetings as an observer, but that was during a distinctly warmer period in U.S.-ICC relations. The chillier turn of late is attributable not just to a transition to an Administration with considerably less ICC-friendly instincts than its predecessor, but to the ICC Prosecutor’s recent announcement that she would seek permission to investigate allegations of CIA and DOD detainee abuse as part of her broader work on Afghanistan.… Seguir leyendo »
What happens when a global criminal court takes on the world’s dominant military power? That was the question earlier this month when the International Criminal Court’s Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda took a decisive step toward direct confrontation with the U.S government.
The Prosecutor’s brief announcement that she would seek permission to launch a formal investigation into the situation in Afghanistan followed a series of annual reports making clear that this investigation will cover not just the Taliban and Afghan security forces, but also U.S. military and intelligence officers. This is a scenario that both ICC critics and supporters in the U.S. government have fretted about ever since the formation of the court. … Seguir leyendo »