Le blog de Daniel Warner

  • 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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  • Guns in the U.S.: The Chronic Nightmare

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    In 1968, during my first year teaching in the South Bronx, the frequently absent Raymond walked into my junior high school English class holding a pistol, looked at me and announced: “Motherfucker; I’m going to blow your fuckin’ head off.”

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  • How Russian Exclusion Threatens the West

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    Exclusion has been one of the major policies used against the Russian Federation for its invasion of Ukraine. On April 7, Russia was suspended from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) by an overwhelming vote in the UN General Assembly. “The barbaric actions of Putin’s regime in Ukraine and the mounting evidence of war crimes mean Russia can no longer have a seat on the UNHRC,” argued U.S. ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield in New York.

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  • Is Vladimir Putin Part of the Solution?

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    Vladimir Putin has been demonized, compared to Hitler, excluded from multilateral meetings and institutions, regularly mentioned as a war criminal, and considered by the West to be an international pariah. All of the above are polite descriptions of how he is being presented. Other narratives are not fit to print. 

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  • Is Ukraine a War Crime or Business as Usual?

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    The war in Ukraine intensifies. This looks like a protracted conflict with the potential for a larger global confrontation. Although stated aims and actions on both sides have evolved and will evolve, two clarifications show the dangers of oversimplified popular accounts of what is taking place. 

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  • Can We Be Neutral About Neutrality?

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    The Swiss are debating their traditional neutral role in the light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Swiss government is divided about how strongly to condemn Russia. But neutrality poses challenges beyond Switzerland. Is the world becoming divided between those strongly condemning humanitarian violations and those trying to remain neutral? Beyond the obvious dichotomy between democracies and autocracies lies a host of positions ranging from Sweden and Finland considering joining NATO to China’s continuing support of Russia. 

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  • President Zelensky is in a Hurry; Justice Isn’t

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    Efforts to change Russia’s behavior during the Ukraine crisis have failed. Rounds and rounds of harsher and harsher sanctions, investigations into war crimes, crimes against humanity and an act of aggression have not stopped the Russians who are continuing their assault on Ukraine. On the diplomatic front, excluding and suspending Russia from multilateral institutions such as the UN Human Rights Council and recalling Russian ambassadors from different countries have had no effect.  
    Why not?

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  • Peter Maurer in Moscow, June 16 and the Fragility of Pacta Sunt Servanda: How Does One Deal With Endless Lies?

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    The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Peter Maurer, just completed a two-day visit to Moscow where he met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Only a few months earlier, on June 16, 2021, Presidents Putin and Biden met in Geneva. Both high-level meetings reveal the limitations of a fundamental principle of law, pacta sunt servanda, that all agreements must be kept. 

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  • Putin, Like Luther, Abandons Mankind

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    Has Vladimir Putin lost contact with any reality outside his own self-perception? Has he gone so far tactically and psychologically that no exit ramp from the current conflict is possible? Is he so firmly entrenched in his own reality that no compromise can take place? If the answers to all these questions are yes, then an analysis of another charismatic leader caught up in his own self-identity, Martin Luther, would be pertinent.

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  • Vladimir Putin and the Grand Question: Was He a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing and a Continuation of Russian History?

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    For Russia, the grand question the last thirty years has been what happened between 1917 and 1989. Was Communist rule an anomaly or a continuation of Russian history? For Germany, the grand question has been what happened between 1933 and 1945. Was National Socialism an anomaly or a continuation of German history? Today, the grand question is whether Vladimir Putin was a wolf in sheep’s clothing and a continuation of Russian history. 

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  • Inclusion, Integration and a Shattered Myth: Who Says Diplomacy Works?

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    The Russian war against Ukraine has shocked, not only because of its viciousness with flagrant violations of accepted norms, but also because it has refuted many assumptions of how the West ought to deal with Russians and Russia. Numerous attempts at including Russia in the international order have failed. President Putin has not only invaded Ukraine, he has nullified a myth that inclusion and dialogue will prevent wars. 

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  • Putin Attacks the World Order

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    Vladimir Putin’s assault on Ukraine has had many victims. Physically, there have already been a significant number of dead and wounded Ukrainian soldiers and civilians as well as Russian soldiers. In addition to the dead and wounded, there is the physical destruction wrought by bombing and street fighting. Beyond the physical, there is the shock for Ukrainians who had their day-to-day lives upended and the numerous Ukrainians who quickly packed and left.

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  • Vladimir Putin’s Dangerous Imagined Community

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    President Putin’s speech to the Russian nation and subsequent invasion of Ukraine are being deconstructed by diplomats, international relations specialists, and psychologists. In a passionate defense of his positioning of military forces on the borders of Ukraine and his recognition of the two separatist regions, Putin spoke about the history of Russian-Ukrainian relations in terms of the creation of Ukraine by Russia and their tribal affinities. “Modern Ukraine was entirely created by Russia…” he said. “Ukraine never had a tradition of statehood.”

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  • A Controversial Taliban Visit to Geneva

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    The presence of a Taliban delegation in Geneva last week caused quite a stir. In what was billed as a humanitarian visit, they met with various non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the International Committee of the Red Cross, the head of the World Health Organization, Doctors Without Borders, and representatives from the Swiss government. 

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  • A Hypocrisy Scorecard: Welcome to the Brave Old World

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    Amid the negotiations over the massing of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border, the sending of more American troops to Europe, and President Biden’s threats of “swift and severe” sanctions if Russia invades Ukraine, more attention should be given to history to highlight hypocrisy in the current crisis.

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  • Russia/U.S. Clash: Where Was a Positive Cassandra?

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    The recent confrontation between the Russian and American representatives at the United Nations Security Council had all the makings of a high Cold War drama. While no shoes were bashed on the lectern or statements that the then American Ambassador Adlai Stevenson would wait “until Hell freezes over” for a response from the Soviet ambassador about whether Russia had missiles in Cuba, the exchanges were sharp and “harsh.” Moscow had even attempted to block the meeting.

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  • U.S/Russian Negotiations and Getting to Yes

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    “This is not a negotiation,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken solemnly declared at a press conference during his recent meeting with the Russian minister of foreign affairs, Sergei Lavrov, in Geneva. He went on to say that during their meeting each side merely presented its position, making a distinction between just presenting one’s position and a negotiation. Following previous meetings between the two sides in Geneva, Brussels, and Vienna, Blinken was apparently only trying to put forward what was possible to negotiate and what was not. In other words, he articulated what were “non-starters” or non-negotiable.

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  • Welcome Madam Ambassador, But Please Not The Best and Brightest 2.0

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    One of the most unreported events of the Biden/Putin summit of June 16, 2021, was the lack of an American Geneva ambassador on the tarmac to greet President Biden when he stepped off Air Force One. Since January 2021, there has been no United States ambassador to the Office of the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva. But that has changed with the Senate confirmation of Bathsheba Crocker on December 18, 2021.

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  • Moral Injury: A New Description of What Ails You?

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    Naomi Osaka withdraws from the French Open with mental health issues. Simone Biles withdraws from the Olympic all-around gymnastics competition because of mental health struggles. The pressure on top athletes is enormous. We are becoming familiar with their issues as more and more athletes come forward to articulate their problems. But what about you? What about someone who gets up in the morning and reads the daily newspaper and/or watches the news in the evening? How are you feeling? 

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  • A Tale of Three Summits: Russia and the U.S. Once More in Geneva

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    The June 16 summit between Presidents Biden and Putin was the obvious highlight of 2021 for International Geneva. Almost 1000 journalists from around the world followed the event that re-asserted Geneva’s role as a neutral venue for high level diplomatic talks. But the result of the meeting in no way compares with the Reagan/Gorbachev summit of 1985. 

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  • Words Matter: The Bucharest NATO Summit and Its Contentious Promise

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    Words do matter. Even when we think we have said something casually, or of not great importance, they can come back to haunt. Item 23 of the final declaration of the 2008 NATO Ministerial summit in Bucharest said: “NATO welcomes Ukraine’s and Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations for membership in NATO.  We agreed today that these countries will become members of NATO.”  10 years later, speaking at a meeting with Russia’s ambassadors and permanent representatives, President Vladimir Putin warned about the eventual membership: “We will react to such aggressive steps, which pose a direct threat to Russia...”

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  • The Hybrid of High and Low Politics

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    The term hybrid is all the rage in the strategic community: hybrid warfare combines hard equipment such as aircraft carriers and physical troops with cyber warfare and drones. But what are hybrid politics? How are politicians supposed to plan policies to deal with increased Russian aggression on its borders or Chinese overflights of Taiwan’s airspace while at the same time dealing with rising social movements, often violent such as the Proud Boys, within the country?

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  • Finally, Speaking Truth to Power

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    Someone, finally, spoke truth to power by confronting financial gurus in their own back-yard, or at least asked them some powerful questions. The head of the International Labor Organization (ILO) courageously challenged heads of finance at a recent meeting in Geneva. “My question is: have you recanted the Milton Friedman of 50 years ago?” he interrogated the local bankers. “Just make money?” he went on. “Have you had your epiphany of your animal spirits being tamed in that regard?”

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