The U.N. Happiness Summit
Photo taken on October 4, 2010 shows Bhutanese schoolgirls walking home from school in the town of Paro. (Getty Images)
April 1st, 2012
07:41 PM ET

The U.N. Happiness Summit

Editor's Note: Stewart Patrick is a Senior Fellow and the Director of the Program on International Institutions and Global Governance at the Council on Foreign Relations. He is the author of Weak Links: Fragile States, Global Threats, and International Security.

By Stewart PatrickCFR.org

At first glance, this Monday’s high-level event in the U.N. General Assembly would appear to confirm the worst suspicions of U.N. skeptics. Given all the crises engulfing the globe, what geniuses in New York decided to have the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan host a daylong special session on “Happiness.”What the heck is going on in Turtle Bay? More than meets the eye, in fact. One of the hottest fields in development economics has been, believe it or not, happiness research. And it turns out that the government in Thimpu may have something wise to say on the subject. FULL POST

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Topics: Culture • United Nations
Patrick: Dispelling myths about foreign aid
(Getty Images)
January 25th, 2012
06:50 PM ET

Patrick: Dispelling myths about foreign aid

Editor's Note: Stewart Patrick is a Senior Fellow and the Director of the Program on International Institutions and Global Governance at the Council on Foreign Relations. He is the author of Weak Links: Fragile States, Global Threats, and International Security.

By Stewart Patrick, CFR.org

Unsurprisingly, foreign aid has once again become a political football in this year’s primary season. Today’s GOP presidential candidates regularly bash it, echoing “Mr. Republican” Robert Taft—who dismissed overseas assistance more than six decades ago as “pouring money down a rat hole.”

But public opposition to providing foreign aid is one of the hoariest misconceptions in U.S. foreign policy.

In fact, U.S. citizens support foreign aid, particularly when it is targeted to alleviating poverty and humanitarian suffering. This is remarkable, given the magnitude by which Americans consistently overestimate the percentage of the federal budget actually devoted to foreign aid. These findings emerge from a newly updated digest of U.S. and international pollingon global issues developed by CFR and the Program on International Policy Attitudes. They suggest that bashing foreign aid—as most of the leading GOP candidates for president have done—is a campaign strategy of dubious value. It may provide red meat to the Republican base, but it ignores the generous impulses of the American majority. FULL POST

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Topics: 2012 Election • Aid
To feed the world and save the planet, eat less meat! (and 4 more necessities)
(Getty Images)
October 19th, 2011
08:42 PM ET

To feed the world and save the planet, eat less meat! (and 4 more necessities)

Editor's Note: Stewart Patrick is a Senior Fellow and the Director of the Program on International Institutions and Global Governance at the Council on Foreign Relations. He is the author of Weak Links: Fragile States, Global Threats, and International Security.

By Stewart Patrick

Appropriately enough, Halloween this year brings some scary news. On that date, the global population will surpass seven billion, according to the UN Population Fund. That’s quite a strain on an already crowded planet where one billion go to bed each night hungry or malnourished. And there’s no sign of a let-up. The planet should hit eight billion inhabitants by 2025 - and could hit ten billion by 2083.

The dilemma for humanity - and earth itself - is stark. In recent years, the world has been rocked by recurrent volatility in the supply and prices of staple foods. And yet economists say that global agricultural production must double in the next forty years to keep up with population growth and changing dietary preferences (including growing consumption of meat in developing countries).

However, doubling agricultural production will subject the planet to tremendous ecological damage, unless agricultural methods are drastically altered. This is the conclusion of a groundbreaking study in the journal Nature, “Solutions for a Cultivated Planet.”

Bottom line? In trying to feed ourselves, we risk killing the planet. FULL POST

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Topics: Environment • Food
Is America still exceptional?
(Getty Images)
October 13th, 2011
02:15 PM ET

Is America still exceptional?

Editor's Note: Stewart Patrick is a Senior Fellow and the Director of the Program on International Institutions and Global Governance at the Council on Foreign Relations. He is the author of Weak Links: Fragile States, Global Threats, and International Security.

By Stewart Patrick

Over at Foreign Policy.com, prominent realist Stephen Walt has a thought-provoking article exposing “The Myth of American Exceptionalism.” His basic point: U.S. officials - and the American public - need to get over their conceit that the United States is a uniquely virtuous nation and an inevitable force for global good.Failure to do so blinds U.S. policymakers, encourages idealistic crusades that lead the country into quagmires and exposes the country to inevitable charges of hypocrisy as it confronts a complicated world. And while the notion of a benevolent American hegemony may be seductive to many Americans, one should not be surprised if others around the world regard the United States with a gimlet eye, given America’s checkered history of meddling in others’ affairs for narrow political, strategic, or pecuniary gain - to say nothing of its insistence on perpetual global military dominance.

The notion that the United States is unique among nations, of course, has been a touchstone of U.S. foreign policy from the republic’s founding. Historically, it has been invoked by both Democratic and Republican Presidents alike - from Woodrow Wilson, JFK and Bill Clinton to Teddy Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush.

But recently it is Republicans who have claimed a monopoly on the concept, blasting the Obama administration - and President Obama himself - for failing to pursue a sufficiently “pro-American” foreign policy.

FULL POST

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Topics: Culture • Foreign Policy • United States
September 21st, 2011
03:11 PM ET

Evaluating Obama's UN speech

Editor's Note: Stewart Patrick is a Senior Fellow and the Director of the Program on International Institutions and Global Governance at the Council on Foreign Relations. He is the author of Weak Links: Fragile States, Global Threats, and International Security. The following Expert Brief is reprinted with permission of the Council on Foreign Relations.

By Stewart Patrick - Special to CNN

In his eloquent address to the opening session of the United Nations General Assembly, President Obama outlined an optimistic vision for a world without war, though his treatment of important issues like Palestine fell short. For nearly seven decades, the UN has struggled with the overriding objective to pursue peace in an imperfect world.  Yet, President Obama argued that the world is closer than ever before to realizing that goal, thanks not to the balance of power but concrete steps to advance human dignity, security and prosperity.

“Peace is hard”, the President repeatedly reminded his audience. But it is within our grasp. “The tide of war is receding,” as the United States draws troops down in Iraq and Afghanistan. The death of Osama bin Laden and the degradation of al Qaeda have reduced the threat of transnational terror.  The demands for freedom that have “lit the world from Selma to South Africa” have now “come to Egypt and to the Arab World,” he proclaimed. Now, the President contended, “We stand at a crossroads of history with a chance to move decisively in the direction of peace.”

FULL POST

September 21st, 2011
10:16 AM ET

Obama's dual dilemmas at the United Nations

Editor's Note: Stewart Patrick is a Senior Fellow and the Director of the Program on International Institutions and Global Governance at the Council on Foreign Relations. He is the author of Weak Links: Fragile States, Global Threats, and International Security. The following Expert Brief is reprinted with permission of the Council on Foreign Relations.

By Stewart Patrick, CFR.org

With President Barack Obama taking the podium September 21 at the opening session of the sixty-sixth United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), the love-fest of 2009 will be a distant memory. Instead, the president faces landmines both foreign and domestic. The Palestinian Authority will be submitting an application to the UN Security Council (UNSC) this week for full UN membership. This poses an excruciating dilemma for Obama, who declared his hope for a two-state solution last year at the same podium. Undersecretary of State Wendy Chamberlain has made it clear that the United States will veto any such resolution, on the grounds that a negotiated settlement must come first. This stance puts Washington on a collision course with most UN members–and threatens to alienate (Guardian) the Arab world. FULL POST

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Topics: Uncategorized
How Gadhafi's fall vindicated Obama and RtoP
National Security Council Senior Director Samantha Power led the drafting of PSD-10, the Presidential Study Directive on Mass Atrocities. (Getty Images)
August 29th, 2011
04:00 AM ET

How Gadhafi's fall vindicated Obama and RtoP

Editor's Note: Stewart Patrick is a Senior Fellow and the Director of the Program on International Institutions and Global Governance at the Council on Foreign Relations. He is the author of Weak Links: Fragile States, Global Threats, and International Security.

By Stewart Patrick, Foreign Affairs

The fall of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi is a significant foreign policy triumph for U.S. President Barack Obama. By setting overall strategy while allowing others to shoulder the burden of implementing it, the Obama administration achieved its short-term objective of stopping Gadhafi's atrocities and its long-term one of removing him from power. This was all done at a modest financial cost, with no U.S. troops on the ground, and zero U.S. casualties. Meanwhile, as the first unambiguous military enforcement of the Responsibility to Protect norm, Gadhafi's utter defeat seemingly put new wind in the sails of humanitarian intervention.

One must be careful, however, not to overdraw lessons from the Libyan experience. It was a unique case and is unlikely to be repeated.

FULL POST

May 27th, 2011
07:01 PM ET

The G8 proves its relevance

Editor's Note: Stewart M. Patrick is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations (where he blogs) and Director of the Program on International Institutions and Global Governance. This is his Expert Brief.

By Stewart M. Patrick

This week's summit in Deauville, France, testified to the enduring vitality of the Group of Eight (G8), which many had given up for dead.

The United States will continue to rely on this exclusive grouping of likeminded advanced market democracies in directing diplomatic attention and material resources to the world's most difficult political and security issues.

The summit's most important achievement was its solidarity in responding to the turbulence in North Africa and the Middle East with moral clarity and the promise of concrete assistance. FULL POST

May 25th, 2011
05:32 PM ET

Obama's timely transatlantic message

Editor's Note: Stewart M. Patrick is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations (where he blogs) and Director of the Program on International Institutions and Global Governance. This is his First Take.

By Stewart M. Patrick

President Barack Obama's address to the UK parliament had one overriding objective: to reassure nervous Brits and a broader European audience that the United States still regards the transatlantic partnership as the central pillar of world order.

The president spoke at a difficult moment, given the inconclusive NATO air war over Libya, an unending military campaign in Afghanistan, and a deepening sovereign debt crisis and budgetary retrenchment across Europe. There are also growing concerns about the challenges to the West posed by rapidly emerging powers like China, India, and Brazil.

Obama's speech was as much a pep talk as anything else - a celebration of the durability of the "special relationship" and of the continued vitality of Western political values in the twenty-first century. FULL POST

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Topics: Europe • President Obama • United Kingdom
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