Le blog de Daniel Warner

  • “The United States is Back” and the Limits of Nostalgia

    Imprimer

    The Biden-Putin upcoming summit in Geneva is being compared to the ground breaking 1985 meeting between President Ronald Reagan and Soviet General Secretary General Mikhail Gorbachev. The circumstances surrounding the summits are very different. 2021 is not 1985. While there are tensions between the United States and Russia, we are not in the midst of a Cold War. The United States and Russia are important geopolitical players, but China is not at the table, nor are billionaires Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg or others whose wealth cannot be excluded in serious global negotiations. 

    Lire la suite

    Lien permanent 3 commentaires
  • Biden-Putin Summit and Swiss Hotel Diplomacy

    Imprimer

    International Geneva is abuzz with the announcement of a Biden-Putin summit during Joe Biden’s first trip outside the United States as president. After meetings of the G-7 in Cornwall, and NATO and the European Union in Brussels, Biden will come to the City of Calvin in mid- June to meet with the Russian president. The Geneva excitement harkens to memories of the Reagan-Gorbachev summit in 1985, which is considered a major step in the end of the Cold War. (Hopefully, it will not harken to the Hillary Clinton-Lavrov reset button failure in Geneva in 2009.) It also is a major victory for Geneva’s reputation as the Rome of multilateralism and Switzerland’s historic neutrality.

    Lire la suite

    Lien permanent 7 commentaires
  • Israel-Palestine and the Limits of Strategic Ambiguity

    Imprimer

    The United States has blocked a United Nations Security Council statement on the continuing violence. According to The Times of Israel, “the draft statement urged Israel to prevent the looming evictions of Palestinian families in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, and called for ‘restraint’ and respect for ‘the historic status quo at the holy sites,’ diplomats involved in the meeting confirmed. The original statement also urged both sides to act in order to de-escalate the situation, they said." The United States was the only member of the Security Council to block the statement. Any hope of a radical change from the Trumpian all-in backing of Israel is disappearing. 

    Lire la suite

    Lien permanent 3 commentaires
  • Is Joe Biden Schizophrenic?

    Imprimer

    Fully cognizant of the unofficial Goldwater Rule in the U.S. that “it is unethical for psychiatrists to give a professional opinion about public figures whom they have not examined in person, and from whom they have not obtained consent to discuss their mental health in public statements,” I do find Joe Biden’s early administration to be schizophrenic.

    Lire la suite

    Lien permanent 8 commentaires
  • No Cure for Pandemic Fatigue

    Imprimer

    Spring is in the air. Bars and restaurants are open for business on terraces throughout Switzerland. Near the local university, students are casually sipping beers outside, no longer cloistered in their small dormitory rooms. Statistically, hospitalizations and deaths from Covid-19 have gone down in Switzerland but people continue to wear masks in designated areas. So the euphoria of warmer weather and approaching summer vacations have not totally allowed us to forget the pandemic. But for how long? 

    Lire la suite

    Lien permanent 3 commentaires
  • Humpty Trumpty Fell off a Wall: Some Thoughts on Laughter and Humor

    Imprimer

    The then Federal Counsellor Johann Schneider-Ammann’s 2016 speech recommending laughter as a way to deal with illness is mostly remembered for his dour presentation. The straight-faced Swiss German didn’t crack a smile while extolling humor. Numerous parodies of the laconic recitation went viral, so much so that the initial message was forgotten. The importance of the role of humor was overwhelmed by the deadpan delivery of the messenger. 

    Lire la suite

    Lien permanent 7 commentaires
  • Will the Swiss and the EU Get to Yes?

    Imprimer

     

     

    The Swiss Federal Council and the Swiss diplomatic community have been all aflutter about who would go to Brussels to negotiate with the European Commission. While it was obvious from the protocol perspective that the rotating Swiss president, Guy Parmelin would go, the question was who would accompany him. Would Ignazio Cassis, the foreign minister, go along? If not, how would Parmelin, a farmer with little international experience, be able to negotiate an institutional framework agreement between Switzerland and the EU that has been blocked for years.

    The art of negotiation, and it is an art, has become a regularly studied academic and diplomatic subject since Roger Fisher and William Ury’s set off a cottage industry with their 1981 best seller Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In. (It became a perennial best-seller and is now in its third edition) Individuals, companies and nations have all signed on to the Harvard Negotiation Project and its spinoffs to try to learn how to get to yes. 

    But the negotiation between two sides assumes that the negotiators have already been chosen. The actors negotiating have to have the authority to make decisions that will be binding after any agreement is reached. After all, what is the point of negotiating if the agreement reached cannot be implemented by one or both sides? Each negotiator must have the necessary legitimacy for his/her side for an agreement to hold.

    In Switzerland, pre-negotiation among the Federal Council determined who would go to Brussels. (Cassis will not.) But the very fact that there was a discussion indicates that there was less than unanimity among the Federal Counsellors about who would go, an indication of a lack of agreement on the position of the Swiss Government. Not simple, therefore, for Europeans to understand the Swiss position if among the Swiss authorities they hesitate in deciding who will go to Brussels to meet with Ms. von der Leyen.

    To add to the confusion: Who is Switzerland negotiating with? An example of pre-negotiation problems is the protocol mishap about the chair for the European Commission’s head in the recent meeting with the Turkish President Erdogan. Was the Commission’s head less important than the European Council’s President Charles Michel? Who was Erdogan negotiating with? If the Europeans couldn’t get their chain of command straight, how were the Turks to negotiate seriously with them? The “Sofagate” scandal was certainly not an impressive example of European unity or respect for women’s rights.

    The question of legitimacy and authority is the basis of all negotiations. The question of who you are is the fundamental fact that must be understood before any negotiation can take place. What is the point of negotiating with someone who has no authority? 

    The Swiss federal system has many attractions. But, in certain situations such as the negotiations with the European Union or even the question of who is in charge of the pandemic emergency, the lack of clear authority hampers decision-making. A federal democracy has its obvious advantages as well as disadvantages. This is not a call for dictators or autocratic rule. No one questions President Erdogan’s authority, but people should not forget his violations of human rights. Rather, it is a recognition that pre-negotiations about positions of power can show potential weaknesses in later negotiations. 

    If the Swiss and Europeans are to have fruitful negotiations to get to yes on an institutional framework agreement, both sides must be clear about the identity of the other side. So just as Switzerland’s federal system hinders clear lines of authority, the EU’s devolution of power also raises questions. The April 23 Brussels meeting should clarify lines of authority, a pre-condition to reaching any meaningful agreement. 80% of Switzerland’s trade is with EU member countries. So getting to yes is a Swiss imperative, not matter how confused the pre-negotiations have been.

    Lien permanent 0 commentaire
  • Buy Local, and Banks?

    Imprimer

    During the pandemic we have been encouraged to buy local in solidarity with those struggling. Whether with local farmers, local restaurants via takeout or other local businesses, helping those closest to us in difficult times makes a great deal of sense. But are there limits to that feeling of solidarity? Several recent headlines should call into question whether we should continue to favor the local. If we have choices, should we continue with businesses that go against the law and our values? 

    Lire la suite

    Lien permanent 0 commentaire
  • Spring, Sunshine and the Call to Reality

    Imprimer

    I received a photo from a friend welcoming the month of April. Indeed, there is much to be thankful for at the end of March and the beginning of April. March 19, 20 or 21 - depending on the year - is the official beginning of spring. It is the moment when the hours of sunshine are equal to the time of darkness, the vernal equinox, and the start of more daylight. This year the weather at the end of March and the beginning of April in Geneva has been fabulous. Longer sunlight and gorgeous weather have made this year’s end of March a welcome relief from Geneva’s cold, foggy winter. Welcome April!

    Lire la suite

    Lien permanent 1 commentaire
  • Down With Impressionistic Politics

    Imprimer

    The Impressionists were a major school of painters who radically changed how we see the world. Working at the end of the 19th century, Monet, Renoir and Cézanne moved away from pure realism, paving the way for non-realistic, modern art. 

    Lire la suite

    Lien permanent 3 commentaires
  • Do All Politicians Lie and Cheat?

    Imprimer

    Newspapers in France have scrupulously covered the trial of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy who was found guilty of corruption and influence-peddling by a court in Paris and sentenced to prison. The United States press is continually reporting on former President Donald Trump’s legal difficulties, which include calls to try to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in Georgia as well as investigations into his tax returns and bank fraud by the Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. The local Geneva newspapers can’t get enough of the trial of Conseiller d’Etat Pierre Maudet for lying about who paid for his personal/public trip to Abu Dhabi with his family. And we could easily add the media frenzy in the U.S. in the unravelling revelations of misdeeds by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

    Lire la suite

    Lien permanent 7 commentaires
  • The World Trade Organization and Saving Multilateralism

    Imprimer

    The new head of the World Trade Organization (WTO) has gotten off to a promising start. In her initial public declarations, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the first woman and first African to lead the WTO, has said that the organization must “deal with people in their everyday lives.” For an organization that has been mired in a deadlock over members of the appellate body and who, after 14 years of negotiation, was unable to finish the Doha Development Round to facilitate global trade in 2015, her election and comments were a breath of fresh air.

    Lire la suite

    Lien permanent 3 commentaires
  • Judgment Days: The Trials of Pierre Maudet and Donald Trump

    Imprimer

    Two elected officials have recently been tried, Pierre Maudet in Geneva and Donald Trump in Washington D.C. Maudet, a Council of State and former mayor of Geneva, was tried for “accepting unauthorised financial perks” tied to a visit to Abu Dhabi in 2015. Trump was tried for “incitement of insurrection” for the events of January 6. While the charges against the two were as different as the settings and world media coverage, the fact that one was a trial before the Geneva Police Court with one judge deciding and the other before the U.S. Senate raises a pertinent question: What is the difference between a criminal trial and a political trial?

    Lire la suite

    Lien permanent 5 commentaires
  • Trump Impeachment and Swiss Burqa/Niqab Vote: Déjà Vu All Over Again

    Imprimer

    Despite riveting and compelling presentations by the House of Representative Lead Managers in the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, the Senate voted 57-43, not enough to find him guilty, just as they had voted not to find him guilty in the previous impeachment trial in 2020. Despite the fact that researchers say there are only between 20 to 30 women in Switzerland wearing a burqa or niqab, the Swiss People’s Party is poised to win a ban on facial coverings in a national vote on March 7, just as they won a 2009 referendum against building minarets although there are only four minarets in Switzerland.  

    Lire la suite

    Lien permanent 2 commentaires
  • Are We Ready For Vaccinating With Sputnik V?

    Imprimer

    Millions of people have died from Covid-19. Many more are infected; many more are at risk. With new variants popping up as the virus mutates, scientists around the world are searching for better protection with different vaccines. As supplies of the approved vaccines become limited, any new vaccine should be universally welcomed. After all, the pandemic has become a global danger. Any new and successful vaccine should be globally welcomed. 

    Lire la suite

    Lien permanent 3 commentaires
  • Russia Confronts International Law: Nyet, Nyet

    Imprimer

    “What good is international law when countries do whatever they want?” I aggressively asked my international law professor years ago. “Well,” he replied with a certain pride, “the United States president usually confers with the State Department legal adviser before he sends troops somewhere.” “But does that change anything?” I insisted. “No,” he replied, “but at least he asks.”

    Lire la suite

    Lien permanent 3 commentaires
  • Deniers, Narratives and Quantum Politics

    Imprimer

    The insurrectionists of June 6 and the vaccine deniers are all part of a larger struggle about how we know and what we know. In different ways, we all search for knowledge, we all search for truth.  “Great is the truth and it prevails” is the motto of my high school. Really? The world now seems in conflict between fact and fiction. The search for knowledge and truth has become fractured. “We create our own reality,” is a famous quote attributed to a senior adviser to President George W. Bush. Or, in senior adviser to President Trump Kellyanne Conway’s infamous phrase, there is an alternative reality. 

    Lire la suite

    Lien permanent 2 commentaires
  • A Reminder: Black Lives Matter and Woodrow Wilson in Geneva

    Imprimer

    The recent insurrection in Washington is a reminder, if one is needed, that not speaking up against injustice has dire consequences. The invasion of the Capitol was the physical culmination of at least four years of collective amnesia/appeasement. The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement is an ongoing manifestation against hundreds of years of amnesia/appeasement. While reactions against the insurrection have been swift and powerful, the BLM movement needs continuing vigilance and updating. 

     

    Lire la suite

    Lien permanent 2 commentaires
  • 1968 – A Dress Rehearsal for 2020

    Imprimer

    Around this time of year, there will be speculation about how 2020 was a special year. People will point to the pandemic as a unique experience, not lived through since the pandemic of 1918. Comparisons will be made with World War II. And what about the Great Depression of 1929 or World War I?

     

    Lire la suite

    Lien permanent 5 commentaires
  • A Frustrated democrat

    Imprimer

    When I am asked if I am a Democrat, I always answer that I am a Democrat with a capital D and a democrat with a small d. The two are not the same. While the first means being a member of a United States political party, the second means believing and defending inclusive values. To be a true democrat is to recognize that all eligible voters are equal, that Lincoln’s government “of the people, by the people, for the people” is not limited to those who think like you.

    Lire la suite

    Lien permanent 6 commentaires
  • Humanitarian Aid in the Time of the Virus

    Imprimer

    The holiday season around Christmas and New Year is a time for family get-togethers, the sharing of gifts and sending cards. It is a particular moment of friendship and solidarity. Traditionally, it has also been a propitious time for fundraising by charitable organizations. How will this appeal resonate at a time of pandemic and general economic hardship?

    Lire la suite

    Lien permanent 0 commentaire
  • Status Quo Ante and the Return to Normal

    Imprimer

    People in Geneva and around the world are hoping that the presidency of Joseph R. Biden Jr. will return the United States to the way it was before the presidency of Donald Trump.

    Lire la suite

    Lien permanent 3 commentaires
  • How Should Former Presidents Behave?

    Imprimer

    There is something disconcerting about watching former United States President Barack Obama being interviewed on French television to market his new book “A Promised Land.” Already the author of several best-sellers - publishing about one’s life seems to be a prerequisite for presidential candidates – Obama was all the literary figure during the interview on a book tour looking to justify the $65 million deal he and his wife had signed. The Obamas do have two daughters in expensive colleges, but ethical questions remain: How should former presidents behave? Should they profit from their prestige as the former highest elected public servant?

    Lire la suite

    Lien permanent 5 commentaires
  • Can multinationals be responsible?

    Imprimer

    As part of anger against the 1%, many of the 99% are turning against multinational corporations such as Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon. On November 29, the Swiss will vote on a referendum concerning corporate social responsibility.

    Lire la suite

    Lien permanent 12 commentaires
  • Voting Heroes

    Imprimer

    Pictures of U.S. citizens waiting in line for up to eight hours to vote in Georgia are stunning. Ordinary citizens, Mr. and Mrs. tout le monde, some sitting on folding chairs, many reading to pass the time, show a determination to cast ballots that deserves recognition and reflection. Recognition as Time magazine’s Citizens of the Year? Heroes for those worrying about the end of democracy in the United States? Proof that the common man voting remains the bedrock of liberal institutions? There are no signs of cynicism among them. No posters or posturing. They are simply people waiting in line to exercise their constitutional right to choose their representatives in Washington.

    Lire la suite

    Lien permanent 3 commentaires