Two weeks ago, the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce graduated its 50th class. Having completed not only an 18-month program of study but also a gamut of comprehensive exams, the roughly 30 graduating students are now ready to enter the foreign-policy workforce. But the Patterson School is just one element of an archipelago of schools focusing on international policy that collectively helps staff the Foreign Service, the intelligence community, a variety of non-governmental organizations, and corporations with international divisions. Other schools with the same mission include the Elliot School of International Affairs at George Washington, the Walsh School […]

U.S. Must Remain Committed to Nation-Building Missions

After nine years of war in Afghanistan and seven more in Iraq, Americans are understandably weary of military interventions designed to remake or rebuild failed or fragile states. Nevertheless, many countries are still falling apart, or worse, falling into the hands of fundamentalists, terrorists, and other militants who disregard popular will and care little for human suffering. As a result, such nation-building interventions will remain necessary for the foreseeable future, as the U.S. involvement in Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan demonstrates. So instead of renouncing these missions, the U.S. must better define why and how it will carry them out, to […]

Hans Rosling’s 200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes

This BBC Four video feature’s an exploration of doctor and researcher Hans Rosling’s use of augmented reality animation to plot life expectancy against income for every country since 1810. Rosling’s work shows how the world we live in is radically different from the world most of us imagine.

Over the past decade, the amount of money flowing into developing countries to address health issues has grown at an incredible rate. According to one authoritative estimate, the total annual value of money and goods donated to global health from all sources, public and private, has risen from less than $8 billion in 1995 to almost $27 billion in 2010 — with most of that increase occurring since 2002. Game-changing new organizations have been created during this period, from radically different kinds of private philanthropies, such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has made more than $13 billion […]

Through their foundations and personal-diplomacy efforts, Bill Gates and Bill Clinton are changing how the international community addresses global health concerns. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is the world’s wealthiest philanthropy, and it has used its wealth to help set the governance agenda for global health. The William J. Clinton Foundation has used the former president’s stature to negotiate agreements between governments and pharmaceutical companies that had previously stymied international trade negotiations for years. The prominence of these two foundations raises a host of issues about the role of private actors in international governance, policy accountability within the international […]

At the closing ceremonies of the International AIDS Conference in Vienna this year, U.S. President Barack Obama pledged to redouble U.S. efforts to fight HIV and AIDS through his Global Health Initiative, notwithstanding hard times in the wake of the global recession. Despite this verbal commitment, many AIDS activists were not satisfied and would later protest, particularly before the midterm U.S. congressional elections, that the U.S. was not spending enough on AIDS overseas. A closer look at the Global Health Initiative budget reveals that these concerns may be justified. While AIDS funding has grown 4 percent from FY2010 to FY2011 […]

CANCÚN, Mexico — One thing is certain about the COP 16 climate talks in Cancún, Mexico: The summit was not the disaster of last year’s affair in Copenhagen. Though binding agreements were never on the table, even critical observers such as Global Witness, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Greenpeace expressed measured optimism as the conference came to a close at 4 a.m. Saturday morning. “We hope countries can go back from [Cancún] with momentum to take national action, and with a sense of renewed purpose,” said Tara Rao of WWF. Rao nevertheless cautioned that the final agreement was far […]

The decision by FIFA, soccer’s world governing body, to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar was momentous on many levels, but historic on one key score: Never before has a global sporting event of such stature been awarded to a country so clearly stuck in a “bad neighborhood” like the Persian Gulf, where the potential for large-scale regional war between now and 2022 is far from theoretical. FIFA’s decision was bold alright, but it also signals the international community’s growing faith in what Gulf Cooperation Council countries like Qatar have achieved in promoting economic and network connectivity with the […]

While much has been said about the overall merits of the New START agreement, comparatively little attention has focused on the treaty’s Article 10. This relatively short but telling passage borrows decades-old language reinforcing both the United States’ and Russia’s mutual obligations regarding “national technical means” (NTM) of treaty monitoring and verification — diplomatic speak for spy satellites. Article 10 obligates both parties to use NTM in accordance with the principles of international law, to refrain from concealment measures intended to impede NTM verification of compliance, and, most importantly, not to interfere with each other’s NTM. The nod to NTM […]

On the stage in Oslo City Hall today, there will be an empty chair for the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Liu Xiaobo. The United States government, which will be represented at the ceremony by its ambassador to Norway, Barry White, criticized China’s refusal to release the imprisoned Liu in order to attend the ceremony. The House of Representatives also passed a resolution calling for the dissident to be freed, while the Obama administration made its position clear in no uncertain terms: We think the Nobel committee has made a strong statement, and we will associate ourselves with that […]

Global Insider: The International Legal Regime for Somali Pirates

A Kenyan appeals court recently ordered the release of nine suspected pirates, ruling that Kenya lacks jurisdiction over events that did not occur within the country’s territorial waters. In an e-mail interview, Eugene Kontorovich, associate professor of law at Northwestern University, discussed the international legal regime for Somali pirates. WPR: What legal regime, if any, applies to captured Somali pirates? Eugene Kontorovich: Captured Somali pirates are tried under the laws of whichever country prosecutes them, which, as in the case of Kenya, may not be the country that captures them. International law allows a nation to try pirates that it […]

The recent revelation that a computer worm called Stuxnet had caused disruption to the Iranian nuclear program has raised concerns about the unintended consequences of so-called cyber war. It has also caught the attention of nation states and others as Stuxnet has proven to be a truly disruptive cyber weapon. We have witnessed the true dawn of cyber war. Noted cyber security specialist Bruce Schneier recently wrote that cyber arms “agreements are badly needed” and that it is “not too late to reverse the cyber arms race currently under way.” Schneier is not alone in this call. For several years […]

Global Convergence vs. National Divergence

I’ve had this thought taking shape ever since Kenneth Weisbrode discussed the different U.S. approach to Asia and Europe in his WPR Briefing from last month. Here’s the relevant passages from Weisbrode’s piece: In much of Europe and America, nationalism remains a taboo subject. Elsewhere it does not. As a result, we have one world committed to erasing the legacy of nationalistic rivalry with institutional cooperation, and another that entertains such institutions only insofar as they advance national interests vis-à-vis rivals. . . . Thus, Obama’s tour of Asia was touted as a goodwill visit to rising world powers, while […]

In October, India announced its inaugural scientific expedition to the South Pole, with the news well-received by the Antarctic Treaty nations, according to the Times of India. At about the same time, the Chinese icebreaker Snow Dragon embarked on its 27th expedition to the Antarctic, with one aim of its voyage to allow a team of Chinese engineers and logistical staff to renovate one of the country’s two main research stations in the southern polar region. The two stories reflect the increasing attention that the two countries are paying to the Antarctic region. India has been involved in the Antarctic […]

H.G. Wells’ futuristic 1933 classic, “The Shape of Things of Come,” predicted a post-apocalyptic world in which humanity’s recovery would depend on the airplane as the primary mechanism for both travel and political rule — the benevolent “dictatorship of the air.” The book reflected Wells’ prescient fears of catastrophic world war and his faith in technology’s capacity to tame mankind’s worst instincts. A book due out in March entitled, “Aerotropolis: The Way We’ll Live Next,” is the closest thing to a real-world vision to rival that of Wells. The book, written by journalist Greg Lindsay, is based on the visionary […]

At this week’s Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe summit in Astana, Kazakhstan, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared that the unauthorized release of U.S. diplomatic documents by the Wikileaks organization “will not in any way interfere with American diplomacy or our commitment to continuing important work that is ongoing.” Clinton is correct: The vital work of international affairs will continue. Diplomacy will not grind to a halt because of the leaks, most of which fall under the category of what Paul Pillar describes as “titillation.” But although the embarrassment will fade away with time, will things then […]

Wikileaks: The Illusion of U.S. Omnipotence

This analysis of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange’s vision of American power has been making the rounds. According to the author, Wikileaks’ objective is not to release information that the government wants to remain secret just for the sake of releasing the information, but rather to provoke a reaction within the government that will ultimately undermine its ability to function effectively. Andrew Sullivan highlights this passage as the takeaway: [W]hile an organization structured by direct and open lines of communication will be much more vulnerable to outside penetration, the more opaque it becomes to itself (as a defense against the outside […]

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