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Diplomacy & Crisis News

Workers of the World Divide

Foreign Affairs - Fri, 20/04/2012 - 06:00
Unions underwrote the affluence of U.S. workers in the last century. They ensured that manual work paid white-collar wages and gave laborers a voice in politics. But now, unions are declining, and the working and middle classes are paying the price. Reviving labor won’t be easy -- but doing so is critical to preserving America’s economic and social health.

Money or Die

Foreign Affairs - Tue, 06/03/2012 - 22:33
Global health programs now teeter on the edge of disaster. The world economic crisis and the politics of debt reduction are threatening everything from malaria control and AIDS treatment to well-baby programs and health-care worker training efforts. And even if the existing global public health architecture survives this time of parsimony and austerity, it will have been remodeled along the way.

How Private Companies are Transforming the Global Public Health Agenda

Foreign Affairs - Tue, 08/11/2011 - 18:13
Over the last three decades, public funding for global health organizations has dried up. Private companies are writing checks to fill the gap, and, accordingly, they are bending the agenda toward their interests. Realigning priorities, however, will mean getting more private firms involved, not less.

The Illusion of World Government

Foreign Affairs - Sat, 08/10/2011 - 03:03
The notion that world government is a fairly simple possibility is the final and most absurd form of the "social contract" conception of government which has confused modern political thought since Hobbes.

The United Nations: a Prospectus

Foreign Affairs - Sat, 08/10/2011 - 03:01
GOVERNMENT," said Alexander Hamilton, "ought to contain an active principle." Political institutions which advance the welfare of their human constituents achieve an internal state which is cohesive and dynamic and produce an external environment which is sympathetic and receptive. Those are the conditions needed for survival and growth. The United Nations Organization is charged with positive tasks. That at least gives it a chance to be potent in the world. Whether the chance is realized will depend primarily upon the General Assembly. The rôle of the Security Council is predominantly negative. Its task is to stop the nations from public brawling. But it has no mandate to change the conditions which make brawls likely.

Demystifying the Arab Spring

Foreign Affairs - Wed, 01/06/2011 - 06:00
Why have the upheavals in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya followed such different paths? Because of the countries' vastly different cultures and histories, writes the president of the American University in Cairo. Washington must come to grips with these variations if it hopes to shape the outcomes constructively. This article appears in the Foreign Affairs/CFR eBook, The New Arab Revolt.

China's Search for a Grand Strategy

Foreign Affairs - Sun, 20/02/2011 - 06:00
With China's clout growing, the international community needs to better understand China's strategic thinking. But China's core interests are to promote its sovereignty, security, and development simultaneously -- a difficult basis for devising a foreign policy.

Less Than Zero

Foreign Affairs - Sat, 01/01/2011 - 06:00

Once again, a global movement is afoot to free the world of nuclear weapons. Unlike the Easter marches of the 1950s and 1960s or the nuclear freeze movement of the 1980s, however, this time around, the policy elites themselves are leading the charge. The list of supporters of Global Zero, the new campaign's flagship organization, reads like a Who's Who of international strategy: from Zbigniew Brzezinski and Lawrence Eagleburger to Strobe Talbott and Philip Zelikow, from Carl Bildt and Hans-Dietrich Genscher to Igor Ivanov and David Owen.

In April 2009, moreover, U.S. President Barack Obama aligned himself with the cause, declaring global disarmament a top priority. Two months later, Vice President Joe Biden stymied a Pentagon plan for a new generation of warheads as a threat to the administration's credibility. And the consensus runs from the White House to City Hall: last June, cheering "U.S. participation in [the] global elimination of nuclear weapons," the U.S. Conference of Mayors called on Congress to "terminate funding for modernization of the nuclear weapons complex."

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Smaller and Safer

Foreign Affairs - Wed, 01/09/2010 - 06:00

On April 8, sitting beside each other in Prague Castle, U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START). Just two days earlier, the Obama administration had issued its Nuclear Posture Review, only the third such comprehensive assessment of the United States' nuclear strategy. And in May, as a gesture of openness at the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference in New York, the U.S. government took the remarkable step of making public the size of its nuclear stockpile, which as of September 2009 totaled 5,113 warheads.

For proponents of eliminating nuclear weapons, these events elicited both a nod and a sigh. On the one hand, they represented renewed engagement by Washington and Moscow on arms control, a step toward, as the treaty put it, "the historic goal of freeing humanity from the nuclear threat." On the other hand, they stopped short of fundamentally changing the Cold War face of deterrence.

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Preparing for the Next Pandemic

Foreign Affairs - Thu, 29/01/2009 - 01:10
If an influenza pandemic struck today, borders would close, the global economy would shut down, international vaccine supplies and health-care systems would be overwhelmed, and panic would reign. To limit the fallout, the industrialized world must create a detailed response strategy involving the public and private sectors.

The Return of Infectious Disease

Foreign Affairs - Thu, 29/01/2009 - 00:50
After wiping out smallpox and winning other battles against the microbes, modern medicine ran into the aids virus. With urbanization and jet travel bringing people together in greater concentrations and more rapidly, infectious diseases are enjoying new opportunities to spread--and to evolve drug-resistant and more lethal strains. Advances in genetics make the threat of biological warfare even more threatening. It is time to write a better prescription for public health.

Reforming the United Nations

Foreign Affairs - Thu, 29/01/2009 - 00:49
People need an international system for security of many kinds. But the United Nations today is precariously funded, stretched thin by an unprecedented number of peacekeeping missions, and generally underequipped to deal with the rising demand for its services. Reform is necessary for the middle-aged organization. States touchy about sovereignty and interest groups pushing their agendas must sink their differences and work out a plan to revitalize the world body. They might consider giving it an independent source of income and some standing troops for enforcement power.

Can the United Nations Be Revived?

Foreign Affairs - Wed, 28/01/2009 - 22:39
Twenty-five years after the League of Nations was born a successor organization was being formed at San Francisco. This fate, at least, has been spared the United Nations. The United Nations is not dead. But it certainly is ill. It is suffering, even supporters admit, from "a crisis of confidence," a "decline in credibility," and "creeping irrelevance." However we define it, the fact is that the world organization is being increasingly bypassed by its members as they confront the central problems of the time.

The Logic of Zero

Foreign Affairs - Sat, 01/11/2008 - 05:00

U.S. nuclear weapons were born nearly 65 years ago with the purpose of winning a worldwide war against Nazi Germany and imperial Japan. They grew up to deter a massive Soviet army that threatened to invade and dominate all of Europe. With the disappearance of that threat almost 20 years ago, nuclear weapons entered middle age in search of a new mission—a search that continues to this day. Some suggest nuclear weapons are necessary to deter, or even preempt, the proliferation of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. Others believe they are needed to destroy deeply buried, hardened targets in hostile states. But the reality is that only one real purpose remains for U.S. nuclear weapons: to prevent the use of nuclear weapons by others.

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July/August 2008

Foreign Affairs - Sun, 01/06/2008 - 06:00

May/June 2008

Foreign Affairs - Sat, 03/05/2008 - 06:00

The Long Road to Pyongyang

Foreign Affairs - Sat, 01/09/2007 - 06:00
The outcome of the North Korean nuclear saga has been held up as an example of the Bush administration defying its bellicose reputation and using multilateralism and diplomacy to defuse a crisis. But in fact, the story is one of extremely poor policymaking and a persistent failure to devise a coherent strategy -- with the result that North Korea has managed to dramatically expand its nuclear capability.

China's "Peaceful Rise" to Great-Power Status

Foreign Affairs - Thu, 01/09/2005 - 06:00
Despite widespread fears about China's growing economic clout and political stature, Beijing remains committed to a "peaceful rise": bringing its people out of poverty by embracing economic globalization and improving relations with the rest of the world. As it emerges as a great power, China knows that its continued development depends on world peace -- a peace that its development will in turn reinforce.

The Human-Animal Link

Foreign Affairs - Fri, 01/07/2005 - 06:00

In recent years, outbreaks of diseases such as avian flu, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), the Ebola virus, and mad cow disease have frightened the public, disrupted global commerce, caused massive economic losses, and jeopardized diplomatic relations. These diseases have also shared a worrisome key characteristic: the ability to cross the Darwinian divide between animals and people. None of these illnesses depends on human hosts for its survival; as a result, they all persist today, far beyond the reach of medical intervention.

Meanwhile, humanity has become vulnerable to cross-species illnesses, thanks to modern advances such as the rapid transportation of both goods and people, increasing population density around the globe, and a growing dependence on intensified livestock production for food. The global transport of animals and animal products, which includes hundreds of species of wildlife, also provides safe passage for the harmful bacteria, viruses, and fungi they carry, not to mention the prion proteins that cause insidious illnesses such as mad cow disease and chronic wasting disease in deer and elk.

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Preparing for the Next Pandemic

Foreign Affairs - Fri, 01/07/2005 - 06:00

Dating back to antiquity, influenza pandemics have posed the greatest threat of a worldwide calamity caused by infectious disease. Over the past 300 years, ten influenza pandemics have occurred among humans. The most recent came in 1957-58 and 1968-69, and although several tens of thousands of Americans died in each one, these were considered mild compared to others. The 1918-19 pandemic was not. According to recent analysis, it killed 50 to 100 million people globally. Today, with a population of 6.5 billion, more than three times that of 1918, even a "mild" pandemic could kill many millions of people.

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