Can Barack Obama ever trust the United Nations Security Council again? And will the Security Council, and the U.N. more broadly, trust the U.S. president? Last week, Obama vented his frustration with diplomacy over Syria at a press conference during the G-20 summit in Russia. Asked why he had called for military action in response to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s resort to the use of chemical weapons, Obama claimed the alternatives “would be some resolutions that were being proffered in the United Nations and the usual hocus-pocus.”
President Obama’s stated willingness to go it alone on Syria surprises those who followed him during the previous administration, when, as a senator, he derided George W. Bush’s commitment to multilateralism and questioned his “coalition of the willing” in Iraq.
It is time to set Lakhdar Brahimi free. After a year's service as envoy for the United Nations and Arab League to Syria, the veteran Algerian mediator faces the final breakdown of his efforts to end the war. Disillusioned with both the Syrian government and its opponents, he came close to resigning in May. Since then he has hung on, mainly because his departure would look like an admission that a peace deal is impossible. His demeanor suggests that he is painfully conscious of the hopelessness of his situation.
In the face of a U.N. Security Council deadlocked on Syria, the United States and its allies could seek other means of legitimizing any retaliatory strike they launch against Syria's government for last week's alleged gas attack on civilians.
The twenty-first century will be defined by security threats unconstrained by borders—from economic instability, climate change, and nuclear proliferation to conflict, poverty, terrorism and disease. The greatest test of global leadership will be building partnerships and institutions for cooperation that can meet the challenge.
The Aid Worker Security Database (AWSD) records major incidents of violence against aid workers, with incident reports from 1997 through the present. Initiated in 2005, to date the AWSD remains the single most comprehensive global source of this data, providing a much-needed quantitative evidence base for analysis of the changing security environment for civilian aid operations. For more detail on the AWSD click here.