Le blog de Daniel Warner

  • The Silent Failure of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Ukraine

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    At the Group of Twenty meeting in Bali, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky castigated the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). “Add to that [11,000 children who were forcibly deported to Russia] hundreds of thousands of deported adults, and you can see what I want to point out that we have not found support in the International Committee of the Red Cross,” he said by video conference. “We do not see that they are fully fighting for access to the camps where Ukrainian prisoners and political prisoners are held, or that they are helping to find deported Ukrainians,” he further criticized.  

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  • Possible Lessons from the Cuban Missile Crisis for Ending the Ukraine Conflict

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    Nine months into the Ukraine war, are we allowed to imagine some diplomatic solution to end the carnage? While President Volodymyr Zelensky has put forward terms of a peace settlement highly favorable to Ukraine, most reports on the war merely describe the horrors taking place. There have been no formal negotiations between Russia and Ukraine or between the United States and Russia. Analogies with another major crisis and the process in finding its solution might clarify how an agreement could be reached.

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  • Peace Through Pieces and the Grain Deal: Can Functionalism Help End the War in Ukraine?

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    There has been new-found optimism in Geneva, although fleeting, about the war in Ukraine; and it wasn’t because of the results of the midterm U.S. election. “The resumption of the talks on a memorandum between Russia and the UN on the export of grain and fertilizer is another positive development for International Geneva,” wrote Philippe Mottaz in The Geneva Observer, the website of record for International Geneva. (Full disclosure: I am a contributor to The G/O.) While the resumption of talks was declared a “modest” step forward in returning Russian and Ukrainian grain and fertilizer to the world, according to Mottaz, it may have been a harbinger of larger and more needed talks about stopping the war in Ukraine. The underlying premise of Mottaz’s optimism was that by providing a space for dialogue the grain talks could lead to future peace talks and settlement. 

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  • Is the Trump Craziness Over?

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    I was prepared to write an article condemning the mainstreaming of Trump’s populism. About 300 Republicans who deny President Joseph Biden’s victory in the 2020 election were GOP candidates on the national and state levels. But many of the candidates specifically backed by Donald Trump like Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania were not elected. In the end, however, about 80 election deniers were elected to the House of Representatives.  

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  • Modern Climate Civil Disobedience

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    Careful observers of actions by environmentalists such as splashing paintings or gluing themselves to pavement recognize that the activists come from a long tradition of civil disobedience. The Transcendentalist American writer and philosopher Henry David Thoreau wrote an essay on civil disobedience, published in 1849, to explain his refusal to pay a tax to help subsidize the U.S. war with Mexico and his opposition to the government’s position on slavery. (He was imprisoned for a very short period of time.) Northern California today has a War Tax Resistance (NCWTR) movement that is affiliated with the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee. Thoreau’s tradition lives on, if only among a select few. But how is splashing paintings (more specifically splashing the glass protecting valuable paintings), and gluing oneself to pavement similar to not paying taxes to protest slavery, war and militarism? Is contemporary climate activism a modern update of Thoreau’s civil disobedience? 

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  • Demythologizing Recovering and Reconstructing Ukraine

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    The recent meeting in Berlin on the reconstruction of Ukraine raises issues about what Ukraine will look like when and after the war ends. The Berlin conference, a follow-up to a July Ukraine Recovery Conference in Lugano, was organized by German presidency of the G7 and by the European Commission. Why consider Ukrainian recovery or reconstruction while Russia bombs key infrastructure sites is an obvious question. “It is never too early to start,” said German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. “We know from our own history that reconstruction is always possible,” he added. 

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  • Dunant, Galtung or the Generals: Give Peace a Chance

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    In a major square in downtown Geneva are two dominant symbols of today’s representation. In the middle of Geneva’s cultural center, La Place de Neuve, stands an imposing statue of a soldier on horseback, the General Guillaume-Henry Dufour, a leader of the Swiss army in the 19th century. At the north-east side of the square is a small bust of Henry Dunant, the founder of the Red Cross. Each time I pass the square I ask: Why is General Dufour given the prominent place in the square while the humanitarian has a small recognition as if an afterthought? (Although Dufour had several distinctions - engineer, noted topographer and a member of the Red Cross founding committee - it is the General Dufour on horseback who dominates the square.)

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  • Images, Tragedy and Bearing Witness

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    A recent visit to the Museum of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Geneva raised questions about the relation between images, tragedy and bearing witness. Television and social media continue to show images of Russian bombings in Ukraine. Front-line reporters interview victims who have lost relatives and live precariously in fear of new explosions. Hurricane Ian’s devastation is also brought into our homes with the inevitable question to those who have seen their material goods pulverized by winds and water: “How are you coping?” But how are we coping? How are we reacting to the images flashing across our screens? While we are not direct witnesses to the tragedies, we are indirect witnesses through the images via the media. 

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  • The Legality of the Use of Nuclear Weapons

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    What do Vladimir Putin and Henry Kissinger have in common? Late last month, the Russian President threatened the use of nuclear weapons in the war over Ukraine, stating: "To those who allow themselves to make such statements about Russia, I would like to remind you that our country also has various means of destruction, and for some components more modern than those of the NATO countries.” In the same vein in 1957, Kissinger wrote: “The tactics for limited nuclear war should be based on small, highly mobile, self-contained units, relying heavily on air transport even within the combat zone.” Putin spoke as his country is being stymied in its efforts to incorporate Ukraine into the Russian Federation. Kissinger was writing at the height of the Cold War as the Rapporteur for a study by the Council of Foreign Relations which later appeared in the book Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy.

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  • Are the Fleeing Russians Merely Draft Dodgers?

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    Tens of thousands of Russian men are fleeing the country to avoid President Putin’s mobilization. Miles after miles of cars are jamming the roads to Finland. Flights to Georgia and other countries are fully booked. For someone who was faced with the draft during the Vietnam War and pondered various possibilities, including leaving the United States, I raise three immediate questions: 1) Are they fleeing this particular war or military service in general? 2) If they are opposed to this particular war, wouldn’t it be more productive for them to protest within the country? 3) How have other countries reacted to their demands to be given special status as political refugees? Georgia has granted one year asylum with no questions asked. 

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  • What if? Is an American Civil War the Only Possible Future Insurrection?

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    Talk of civil war in the United States stretches the imagination, but only so far. After all, the United States already had a Civil War in the 19th century and the 1960s protests against the Vietnam War and for civil rights showed a very polarized and violent country. How far were our imaginations stretched in the 1960s? The 1968 movie if…. masterfully shows what happens when a group of boys stage a violent insurrection in an English private school. The film won several awards, including the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and was named the 12th greatest British film of the 20th century. In 2017, a magazine poll of screen professionals ranked it the 9th best British film ever. It was also criticized for being “incendiary” and “subversive.”

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  • Alabama and the Alabama Room: A Needed Reminder of Successful Arbitration

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    With war raging between Russia and Ukraine and with no end in sight and no public negotiation going on between the two parties, it is worth noting that September 14, 2022, marks the 150th anniversary of a successful third-party arbitration between Great Britain and the United States. The very act of accepting arbitration by the two sides in 1871 accelerated the custom of settling contentions between countries by arbitration rather than resorting to violence and war.

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  • The OHCHR Report on China’s Human Rights Situation: The Conundrum of Balancing State Sovereignty with International Obligations

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    At the last moment, the very last moment, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released a report on the human rights situation in China. The Office was under enormous pressure by human rights groups to release the report before the High Commissioner left office on August 31. The Chinese government also put enormous pressure on the Office not to release the report or to release it with major revisions. The released report accused China of human rights violations that “may constitute international crimes, in particular crimes against humanity,” in its treatment of Uyghurs and other Muslim groups in the Xinjiang region.

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  • The Death of Daria Dugina: Moscow’s Invocation of Terrorism Is More Than Chutzpah

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    Did the car-bomb death of Daria Dugina outside Moscow add a new dimension to the Ukraine-Russia war? The presumed target was her father, Russian philosopher and extreme nationalist Alexander Dugin, whose ideas are said to influence President Vladimir Putin. The Russian domestic intelligence agency, the FSB, quickly blamed a Ukrainian operative who had already left the country. Questions remain about who was responsible for the attack. Beyond who is responsible, the importance of the attempted murder of an individual of Dugin’s stature near Moscow could have implications for how the war is conducted. 

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  • Is Representative Cheney a Profile in Courage?

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    Is Liz Cheney’s stand against former President Donald Trump a profile in courage? Cheney was soundly beaten in the recent Wyoming Republican primary to run for her seat in the House of Representatives. Despite voting 93% along with Trump while he was president, Liz Cheney paid the price for repudiating Trump following January 6 and co-chairing the House Commission on the Capitol insurrection. Trump supported Harriet Hageman who won as part of Trump’s revenge against the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach him.

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  • “Sometimes You Have to Go Above the Law.” Really?

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    Towards the end of Paradise Highway, recently shown at the Locarno Film Festival, a sympathetic federal agent (Morgan Freeman), lets an equally sympathetic truck driver (Juliette Binoche) escape with a previously sex trafficked girl. Freeman let them escape although Binoche and the girl were guilty of numerous crimes, including shooting a potential predator. In the romanticized ending, Freeman defends letting the two get away to his young assistant, saying he is a “rogue” cop and implies “sometimes you have to go above the law.” 

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  • Pope Francis’s Visit to Canada: What Does It Mean to Say You’re Sorry?

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    Psychologists and family counsellors recommend that being able to say one is sorry is a necessary prerequisite for healthy relationships. But the recent “penitential pilgrimage” of Pope Francis to Canada’s Indigenous people was more than a personal, relationship journey. The trip represented an institutional recognition of past wrongdoing. While the Pope is an individual, he represents the entire Catholic Church. His mea culpa was an admission of guilt for past transgressions by the entire Church. 

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  • Sergei Karaganov Reveals a Russian Elite’s World Vision

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    The cancel culture has hit high level diplomatic discussions. U.S. Russian negotiations are in the deep freeze. Even the head of the humanitarian International Committee of the Red Cross was severely criticized for talking to and shaking hands with the Russian Foreign Minister. Dialogue or contact with Russians is nyet, nyet. We have little knowledge of what Russians are thinking.

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  • NATO’s Partnerships 360 Symposium: A Fatal Attraction?

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    “This is just perfect for Switzerland,” exulted a high-level Swiss defense official when Switzerland joined NATO’s Partnership for Peace (PfP) in 1996. “We can have access to the bar without being full country club members.” He added: “I don’t like playing golf anyway,” an allusion to Swiss neutrality which forbids Switzerland from joining any military alliance such as NATO.

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  • Witnessing and Celebrating a Unique Win-Win Moment

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    Sports, like politics, is a based on binary win-lose calculations. Games and elections are summarized in sports and front pages by W and L. Who won? Who lost? The excluded middle, or more conventionally consensus, cooperation or compromise, have gone the way of black-and-white television and Sony Walkmans. In our current polarization, we only want to know who’s up, who are the winners. Tradition now has it to go to Disney World to celebrate whatever victory one has accomplished. Prepare the downtown ticker tape parade, let the loudspeakers blast “We Are The Champions,” winning and celebrating are today’s accepted symbols of success.  

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  • Ukraine Reconstruction, Peace and Justice

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    Is it possible to speak of reconstruction while a war is still going on? The Swiss government and Ukraine co-organized an international conference in Lugano July 4-5 to deal with rebuilding Ukraine. Although not as high-level as the recent G-7 or NATO summits, the aim of the conference, according to Ignazio Cassis, the Swiss Foreign minister who also holds the rotating Swiss presidency, was to have a “Lugano Declaration” similar to the Marshall Plan that described the reconstruction of Europe after World War II. One thousand participants from 40 countries and representatives from international organizations attended as well as almost one hundred representatives from Ukraine. 

     

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  • Susan Collins Embraced Mendacity

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    I was raised in the Bronx; Susan Collins grew up in Caribou, Maine. She graduated from Caribou schools; I graduated from Public School 95. Caribou was once a thriving potato shipping hub – her parents were successful lumber merchants - and home to Loring Air Force Base. It has a population of 7,900 according to the latest census. My old neighbourhood alone now has an estimated population of 50,000. The Bronx, one of New York City’s five boroughs, has a population of close to 1,500,000, roughly the population of the entire state of Maine.

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  • Lugano, New York, Brussels: A Busy Time for Swiss Diplomats

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    Swiss diplomats are juggling with planning for the July 4 and 5 reconstructing Ukraine conference in Lugano, the upcoming presence of Switzerland on the UN Security Council and finding an institutional agreement with the European Union. The three represent major challenges to traditional Swiss neutrality as well as work overload. 

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  • MBS and Putin: What is the value of talking to one and not the other?

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    President Biden is confronted with two decisions: The first is whether to go to Saudi Arabia this summer to meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) to try to persuade him to increase his country’s oil output. The second is whether to speak directly with Vladimir Putin to try to end the war in Ukraine. Neither outreach is a form of recognition; it is a necessity for much larger considerations.

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  • Cold War 2.0: Trauma and Nostalgia

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    Remember the Cold War? Remember its most dangerous thirteen days when the world was dramatically close to a nuclear confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union over the latter’s missiles in Cuba? Remember the Bay of Pigs failed invasion to overthrow the communist Fidel Castro’s government? Remember sirens frequently blasting in New York City, with young students huddled under their desks in rehearsal for an actual Soviet attack?

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