FROM Colum Lynch
Is Trump making Iran look good? President Trump told world leaders at the UN that the nuclear deal with Iran and other nations was an "embarrassment to the United States." Iran's President Rouhani went home and presided over a parade including new long-range ballistic missiles -- which were not part of the deal. But Trump and US hardliners say they should have been, and should be in the future. So they're calling for re-negotiation. Critics call that so unlikely it puts American diplomats in a bind — especially when North Korea already has nuclear weapons and accuses the US of "declaring war."
Should the US drop out of the UN Human Rights Council? President Trump’s UN Ambassador, Nikki Haley, said today the US might pull out of the United Nations’ Human Rights Council. Even Council supporters agree it spends too much time attacking Israel’s occupation of the West Bank—while ignoring violent repression by countries like Venezuela. Serious violators of human rights are members of the Council itself-- and a US resignation could make things worse. But tough talk is a hallmark of Ambassador Haley, who’s shown signs of independence from Secretary of State Tillerson and the Trump White House.
At UN, Tillerson calls for 'painful' North Korea sanctions Last night, President Trump raised the specter of war with North Korea. "There's a chance we could end up having a major major conflict with N Korea absolutely." Today, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson chaired the UN Security Council, and announced US policy toward North Korea’s nuclear program. "All options for responding to future provocation must remain on the table. Diplomatic and financial levers of power will be backed up by a willingness to counteract North Korean aggression with military action, if necessary." Colum Lynch, diplomatic reporter for Foreign Policy , based at the United Nations, reports on the escalating tensions.
Is America turning its back on the world? Late last year, Donald Trump tweeted that, the United Nations had become, "Just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time." His budget proposal released today includes massive cuts to the State Department and in US contributions to UN programs, including peacekeeping and environmental protection. UN critics say it's about time. But whatever the UN's shortcomings, supporters call reversing decades of US policy a threat to international order…and a risk to America's own national security.
Obama's swan song at the United Nations At the General Assembly today, Barack Obama delivered his final address as President of the United States. He said, "The existing path to global integration requires a course correction… But I believe America has been a rare superpower in human history insofar as it has been willing to think beyond narrow self-interest. That while we've made our share of mistakes over these last 25 years -- and I've acknowledged some – we have strived, sometimes at great sacrifice, to align better our actions with our ideals. And as a consequence, I believe we have been a force for good." Colum Lynch is United Nations correspondent for Foreign Policy .
United Nations to Investigate Use of Chemical Weapons in Syria The UN Security Council today agreed to establish a panel to investigate the use of chemical weapons in Syria . The vote was unanimous — shaped by a rare collaboration between the US and Russia. Colum Lynch covers the United Nations for Foreign Policy .
The Iran Nuclear Deal Is Now Up to Congress Last week, the Obama Administration asked the UN Security Council to vote on the Iran nuclear deal. Today it got the unanimous vote it wanted. All 15 members endorsed the agreement to lift economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for limitations on Iran's development of nuclear technology. Now, Congress with 60 days to approve or reject it. Republicans and some Democrats are furious at the Obama Administration for asking the Security Council to go first . Opponents say the agreement could pave the way for Iran to make a nuclear bomb. Supporters say it's the best thing possible and much better than nothing. They warn that continued division within the US will have dangerous consequences for America's world leadership.
Netanyahu, the US and the Isolation of Israel The US and much of the world has long agreed that a two-state solution is needed to resolve differences between Israel and the Palestinians. After last week's reelection, President Obama told Benjamin Netanyahu the US will have to "reassess" its policy of supporting Israel unconditionally. In an exclusive interview with the Huffington Post , President Obama described what he told the Prime Minister in a phone call. "I did indicate to him that we continue to believe that a two-state solution is only way for the long term security of Israel if it wants to stay a Jewish state and democratic. I did indicate to him that, given his statements before the election, it is going to be hard to find a path where people are seriously believing that negotiations are possible." Netanyahu's warning about Arab voters sounded racist, and post-election claims that he doesn't really oppose a Palestinian state have been widely questioned. American Jews are divided, and Israel is becoming a partisan issue in Washington. After decades of American vetoes at the UN, will that mean allowing the Security Council to put Israel on the spot regarding settlements and a two-state solution?
Should Other Nations Recognize a Palestinian State? In the British Parliament this week, long-time supporters of Israel expressed outrage at the annexation of 950 acres of Palestinian land for yet another Israeli settlement. The measure passed 274 to 12—but more than half of the 650 members abstained, including Prime Minister David Cameron, whose government will ignore the action. Sweden’s newly elected government has recognized Palestine, and European support for Israel appears to be dwindling.
Obama’s UN Speech on a New Global Unease In his first address to the United Nations, President Obama called for “a new era” of multilateral engagement. Today, he said there is “a pervasive unease in our world” and that no country can “insulate itself from global forces." Colum Lynch covers the United Nations for the Washington Post.
Saudi Arabia Rejects Security Council Seat For years, Saudi Arabia has campaigned for a seat on the UN Security Council. Yesterday—for the first time in history—it was finally elected. But, in an unprecedented act of protest, it refused to accept. Colum Lynch covers the UN for the Washington Post and he’s a blogger for Foreign Policy magazine.
World Reacts to Attack in Syria Grisly videos of dead children and people gasping for breath are reportedly evidence that Syria's al-Assad regime attacked a neighborhood near Damascus yesterday using chemical weapons. The big question is whether UN weapons inspectors will be allowed to go to the scene. Colum Lynch is UN correspondent for the Washington Post .
North Korea Threatens Strikes as UN Imposes New Sanctions The UN Security Council has unanimously approved new sanctions on North Korea, despite its threat of nuclear retaliation against the United States. Even China, North Korea's principal ally, helped the US draft the resolution. Colum Lynch covers the UN for the Washington Post .
Kofi Annan Steps Down as UN Envoy to Syria After 17 months, one of the world's most seasoned diplomats has failed to achieve even a ceasefire between the al-Assad government and rebel forces in Syria. Kofi Annan has submitted his resignation as special representative for the UN and the Arab League. Colum Lynch is UN correspondent for the Washington Post and Turtle Bay blogger for Foreign Policy magazine.
Obama Addresses the UN as Palestinians Seek UN Membership Last year, President Obama called for a Palestinian State with membership in the United Nations. Today, in a speech at the UN where US and European leaders are struggling to head off a confrontation over Palestinian demands for statehood, he conceded that hasn't happened, and repeated the phrase, "peace is hard." We hear about the President's address to the General Assembly and some frantic diplomacy.
Barack Obama Back at the United Nations President Obama told the UN General Assembly today, this "has been a remarkable year." He also said he's been "frustrated." Despite some positive developments around the world and the Arab democracy movement, last year's hope for a Palestinian state has not been realized. The President indicated US opposition to the plan by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to bypass negotiations and ask the UN for statehood now. To a General Assembly thought to favor the Palestinians, the President said, "each side [must] learn to stand in each other's shoes. And, once again, he's caught between Palestinian aspirations and US support for Israel, with Republicans proclaiming that he's letting Israel down. Can he avoid a veto at the Security Council that would antagonize Arab public opinion? What's at state for next year's re-election campaign?
Who's to blame for the opioid crisis? Some of the lawyers who took on Big Tobacco are now going after Big Pharma. It’s all about the deadly epidemic of opioid use. Are the drug companies to blame? What about the users? Later, on today’s Talking Point: making sense of Britain’s upset election.
Janesville and the American Dream Janesville, Wisconsin is the hometown of Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan. But he couldn’t prevent the closing of the General Motors factory after 100 years. On this Memorial Day rebroadcast of To the Point, we hear what’s happened to what once was a model of American middle-class unity.
Ex-FBI Director Comey tells his side of the story Today, former FBI Director James Comey came close to calling the President who fired him a liar. The White House denied the claim and called it insulting, but Republican Senators did not challenge Comey’s truthfulness. Many questions remain: did the President try to obstruct a federal investigation? Later, we’ll go behind the “velvet rope” for a look at 5-Star health care for the richest Americans.
Trump plays scolder-in-chief with NATO allies At the opening of NATO’s dramatic new headquarters in Brussels today, President Trump acknowledged that Article 5 — promising that “an attack on one nation is an attack on all” -- has only been invoked one time: in the aftermath of September 11. But the President failed to provide what 27 other Alliance members have been waiting for: a re-commitment by America’s new leader to Article 5. Instead, they got a scolding.