Congratulations to Josh Marshall for the opening of TPM Cafe, a virtual smorgasbord of blogs, including Matthew Yglesias’s new home. Closer to home, Josh has managed to rustle up some high-profile international relations scholars and policy wonks for TPMCafe’s foreign policy blog, America Abroad — contributors include G. John Ikenberry, Anne-Marie Slaughter, and Ivo Daalder. ...
Congratulations to Josh Marshall for the opening of TPM Cafe, a virtual smorgasbord of blogs, including Matthew Yglesias's new home. Closer to home, Josh has managed to rustle up some high-profile international relations scholars and policy wonks for TPMCafe's foreign policy blog, America Abroad -- contributors include G. John Ikenberry, Anne-Marie Slaughter, and Ivo Daalder. As Henry Farrell put it, "The IR-academic corner of the blogosphere has been relatively underpopulated up until very recently.... it?s experiencing a bit of a population boom. Nice to see." Yes it is -- now let's get to the fun part of critiquing the posts. Anne-Marie Slaughter posted yesterday about the shortcomings of the Bush administration's diplomacy. She uses the recent failure of the NPT negotiations as an example:
Congratulations to Josh Marshall for the opening of TPM Cafe, a virtual smorgasbord of blogs, including Matthew Yglesias’s new home. Closer to home, Josh has managed to rustle up some high-profile international relations scholars and policy wonks for TPMCafe’s foreign policy blog, America Abroad — contributors include G. John Ikenberry, Anne-Marie Slaughter, and Ivo Daalder. As Henry Farrell put it, “The IR-academic corner of the blogosphere has been relatively underpopulated up until very recently…. it?s experiencing a bit of a population boom. Nice to see.” Yes it is — now let’s get to the fun part of critiquing the posts. Anne-Marie Slaughter posted yesterday about the shortcomings of the Bush administration’s diplomacy. She uses the recent failure of the NPT negotiations as an example:
Notwithstanding all the hype about public diplomacy, the Administration is still managing to be a global bad press machine. As Ivo describes, we have managed to generate still more global animus by apparently refusing to take the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review seriously, even though Iran and North Korea are front-burner issues and there is general consensus that the NPT needs amending to prevent states from getting to the edge of nuclear capability in complete conformity with the treaty and then legally withdrawing and making a bomb. Nor is there any lack of proposals out there. IAEA director Mohammed el-Baradei has proposed a five-year moratorium for all uranium enrichment and plutonium production for all 188 signatories of the NPT. The U.S. and Iran both opposed that — as did France, Brazil, Japan, Australia, Canada, and the Netherlands — on the grounds that it would limit their future nuclear fuel options. But what about a one-year moratorium? Or making all nuclear fuel generating facilities part of multinational consortia, so they are not controlled by a single state? The larger point is that the Administration has not mastered the basic diplomatic art of making a positive proposal and putting other countries on the defensive, rather than always being the naysayer, or, as in this case, ignoring the multilateral proceedings and going our own way, thereby uniting everyone else in opposition to our unilateralism. Worse still, the Administration has ideas and initiatives worth expanding in the non-proliferation area. The Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), which is now a very loose and ad-hoc network of states committed to stopping shipments of WMD and delivery systems, is a promising start…. Given that the PSI purportedly conforms to existing international law and treaties, why couldn’t the Administration propose expanding its membership and connecting it to the NPT treaty? Why are we so afraid to suggest that other states join with us to identify “state actors of proliferation concern”? ….Would it be so terrible actually to show up at an international conference as the leader of a coalition of states seeking to institutionalize an ad-hoc arrangement? At the very least, we would be the proposer rather than the nay-sayer for a change.
My very mixed reaction to this post:
1) If the U.S. joins France, Brazil, Iran, Japan, Australia, Canada, and the Netherlands in opposing something, it’s not clear to me whether the U.S. has really triggered “global animus” or just animus among international lawyers. 2) Trying to get the PSI attached to the NPT would be an unmitigated disaster. The precise reason the PSI works is that membership is restricted to important like-minded states. Attaching that to a universal-membership treaty is almost (but not quite; I’ll explain why in a sec) tantamount to suggesting that NATO be subsumed under the United Nations. 3) If this Wall Street Journal story by Jay Solomon and Gordon Fairclough is any indication, it actually looks like the Bush administration has more up its diplomatic sleeve than the PSI in dealing with North Korea:
As the North Korea nuclear crisis deepens, an interagency team inside the Bush administration is working with East Asian governments to curb what U.S. officials say is Pyongyang’s booming trade in counterfeit cigarettes, pharmaceuticals and currency…. Larry Wilkerson, who was former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s chief of staff, said in an interview that the effort — which officials named the Illicit Activities Initiative — was launched to augment, rather than undercut, diplomacy. He said the State Department believed that to get Pyongyang to give up its nuclear program, the U.S. would have to offer inducements. Washington also must show that “we could severely cut off North Korea’s economic lifeline” if the country’s leader, Kim Jong Il, doesn’t come to the negotiating table, Mr. Wilkerson says. The North Korea initiative, Mr. Wilkerson says, was launched by the State Department in support of a wider Bush-administration effort to choke off the global trade in weapons of mass destruction. Yesterday, the White House touted its Proliferation Security Initiative, which calls for the interdiction of suspect international ships, for notching nearly a dozen successes in curtailing missile and nuclear-related technology headed to countries such as Iran.
4) There is a compelling logic to the Bush administration’s position. This quote from a David Sanger story in the New York Times last week (link via Ivo Daalder) crystallizes their position:
Before the [NPT] meeting, administration officials said President Bush wanted to move the discussion to smaller groups where nations like Iran could not block a consensus. The officials, who did not want to be identified because the negotiating stance was in flux, named the Group of 8 industrial nations and the obscure Nuclear Suppliers Group. With informal accords, the suppliers group controls the flow of nuclear-related technology to nations seeking to build nuclear infrastructures. By operating through that organization, Mr. Bush seems to hope to impose new rules without having to renegotiate the treaty.
Bush officials like these ad hoc coalitions. Slaughter wants arrangements like the G-8, PSI, and NSG to be converted from ad hoc coalitions to adjuncts of larger international organizations. I’d rather see them stay as private clubs, but become more institutionalized on their own (This, by the way, is why the NATO analogy above wasn’t quite fair. NATO is institutionalized to a far greater extent than the PSI or NSG — which might be one reason that multilateralists like NATO so much). 5) Finally, the most trenchant criticism by Slaughter is her contention that “the Administration has not mastered the basic diplomatic art of making a positive proposal and putting other countries on the defensive, rather than always being the naysayer”. Nowhere is this more evident than the Bush administration’s policy on global warming. The administration rejected Kyoto, and rightly so (a fact that former Clinton officials will acknowledge if you get them good and liquored up). Bush officials said at the time of rejecting Kyoto that it would come up with an alternative plan. An even though it’s actually implemented some useful programs in this area, it never followed through with a positive alternative. So even though I seriously doubt any European signatory to the Protocol will actually abide by the friggin’ treaty, the U.S. looks like the bad guy. It’s just so unnecessary.
A fnal query to readers. America Abroad and Duck of Minerva are the two recent blogs I’ve seen to be run by international relations scholars. Beyond them, Rodger Payne, and March Lynch (a.k.a. Abu Aardvark), readers are encouraged to clue me in to other IR scholar-blogs out there.
Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School at Tufts University and the author of The Ideas Industry. Twitter: @dandrezner
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