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United Nations

The Takeaway

A Team Effort: International Forces in Afghanistan

Thursday, October 08, 2009

The United Nations Security Council will vote today to reauthorize the mandate for international forces in Afghanistan. Forty-two countries have troops in Afghanistan in numbers small and large, ranging from Singapore's two soldiers to Britain's 9,000. We're spending the week on the now eight-year-old war in Afghanistan; today we look at the role international forces are playing and how well U.S. forces and international allies are working together. Evelyn Farkas is a senior fellow with the American Security Project, a public policy organization. She was part of a NATO delegation with the International Security Assistance Force that just returned from Afghanistan this week. We also speak to BBC defense and security correspondent Nick Childs in London, and BBC correspondent Tristana Moore in Berlin.

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The Takeaway

Bomb Blast at UN World Food Office in Pakistan

Monday, October 05, 2009

A bomb exploded in the lobby of the offices of the United Nations' World Food Programme in Pakistan's capital, Islamabad. At least three people have been killed and several others injured. We speak with the BBC's correspondent in Islamabad, Shoaib Hasan, for the latest news.

Read an official statement about the blasts from the U.N.'s World Food Programme.

"Pakistan's government is pointing their fingers at [the Taliban]. Pakistan's interior minister, Rehman Malik, briefly spoke to reporters about an hour ago ... he said that this would not slacken Pakistan's resolve, he said that the government was going to carry out its operations, that it's continuing against the militants and there would be no negotiations with the Taliban."
—Shoaib Hasan, BBC correspondent in Islamabad, on the Taliban as suspects for the bombing in Islamabad

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The Takeaway

Dismissed Afghan Envoy Speaks Out

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Peter Galbraith, the highest-ranking American working for the U.N. mission in Afghanistan, is losing his job, allegedly for raising too many concerns about accusations of fraud in the recent Afghan presidential elections. He joins The Takeaway to discuss his side of the story ... and what more he thinks the U.N. could be doing to clean up elections there. (click through for the full interview transcript.)

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The Takeaway

Iran: Twice the (Nuclear) Power

Friday, September 25, 2009

While in the Security Council of the United Nations, President Obama won unanimous adoption of a resolution to curb the proliferation and testing of nuclear weapons and move toward total disarmament, Iran continues to develop nuclear sites. This morning there are reports revealing the existence of a second uranium enrichment plant in Iran. The BBC's defense and security correspondent, Nick Childs, joins us with a look at what this announcement will mean for next week's high-level talks between the U.S. and Iran.

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The Takeaway

Center Ring at the General Assembly

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The United Nations General Assembly convened in Manhattan this week, and everyone came! Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi wowed the crowd with a suggestion that the United Nations Security Council be renamed the "Terror Council," while Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad caused a walk-out by many delegations. John Hockenberry looks at the purpose of this global forum for world leaders in the 21st century. Is it reasonable to expect gravitas from the U.N., or is it just a just a way to bring together "the greatest show on earth?"

In case you missed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's speech, here it is:

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The Takeaway

President Obama's Push for Nuclear Disarmament

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Yesterday President Obama made nuclear disarmament a central theme of his speech to the General Assembly of the United Nations. Today he chairs a Security Council meeting on the issue. For a look at what the president needs to say and do to convince the world that he means business, we turn to two men who are experts in the realms of diplomacy, foreign policy and nuclear proliferation. Hans Blix served as director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) from 1981 to 1997 before he was tapped to lead the U.N. committee charged with searching for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. We also speak to Joe Cirincione, president of the anti-nuclear Ploughshares Fund. He also wrote the book "Bomb Scare: The History and Future of Nuclear Weapons."

"On the Iranian issue, I think the focus in the Western world has been, perhaps, too much on the sanctions. All on the whips, and not so much on the carrots. If you want to get a country to act in a particular direction, the carrots are just as important. It's instructive to compare the attitude taken towards North Korea on the one hand and Iran on the other. North Korea, they [have been] offered diplomatic relations with both the U.S. and Japan if they scrap their nuclear program. They're also offered security guarantees. None of these elements have, so far, been raised publicly for Iran."
--Hans Blix

"Every president since Truman has called for the elimination of these weapons, including Ronald Reagan, who wanted to make them 'impotent and obsolete.' What's different is that Obama is calling for this vision and coupling it with a concrete program on how to get started, step-by-step. He's not doing it unilaterally; he's doing it with the Russians. He says, 'We have to start. The United States and Russia own 96% of all the weapons in the world. The U.S. has about 10,000, Russia has about 12,000 -- we have to take the first steps.' He's right about that, and he's acting on it."
--Joe Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund

Here are highlights of President Obama's address to the United Nations yesterday:

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The Takeaway

China's Change on Climate

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Chinese president Hu Jintao told the U.N. that climate change "has a profound impact on the survival and development of mankind," but stopped short of offering specifics on his country's plans to address the problem. Still, Chinese policy expert Taiya Smith tells us the speech is a big deal because it shows the country is moving away from pursuing development at all costs. That's good news for Henrik Fleischer, the CEO of energy technology firm Sargas, who tells about the bright future he sees for his carbon capture technology in the Chinese market. 

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The Takeaway

President Obama's UN Debut

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Yesterday President Obama took to the international stage as he made his United Nations debut. From yesterday’s climate change summit to tomorrow’s nuclear disarmament talk — and anticipated flourishes from Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Libya's Muammar Gaddafi along the way — we take a look at President Obama’s global positioning with worldly thinkers Richard Wolffe and Reihan Salam. Richard Wolffe is a journalist and author of the bestselling book "Renegade: The Making of a President." Reihan Salam is a fellow at the New America Foundation and editor of The American Scene.

Watch the president's address to the United Nations:

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The Takeaway

US vs. China: A Climate Showdown

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Today, at a one-day U.N. summit, President Obama will talk face-to-face with Chinese President Hu Jintao. The two aim to get beyond roiling trade disputes to attempt an agreement on global warming legislation. What factors are separating these two at the table? Here to tell us is David Biello, energy and environmental editor at Scientific American.

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The Takeaway

McChrystal Says More Troops Needed in Afghanistan

Monday, September 21, 2009

The commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, has cautioned Defense Secretary Robert Gates that he needs additional troops in Afghanistan by next year or the conflict will “likely result in failure.” The previously-confidential report was sent to Gates on August 30, but was just released last night. To go over the details with us is Eric Schmitt, reporter for our partner, The New York Times.

"What this report does in very stark language is lay out some of the problems and...basically gives his prescription that he needs more forces -- he doesn't say how much, that'll come in a separate document -- and he needs them soon or else the mission in Afghanistan, the eight-year mission there, will likely fail."
—Eric Schmitt, reporter for The New York Times, on Afghanistan commander Admiral McChrystal's report

 

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The Takeaway

UN General Assembly Convenes This Week

Monday, September 21, 2009

As the U.N. General Assembly convenes, it brings together all of its 192 member countries; this year, the U.S. is playing a larger role than usual. President Obama will attend some of the proceedings this week, starting with a summit on climate change. Then the General Assembly debate takes place, where a speech by Obama is scheduled to follow a speech by Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi. We talk to BBC diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus, who is in New York covering the events.

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The Takeaway

This Week's Agenda with Marcus Mabry and Andrew Walker

Monday, September 21, 2009

It's Monday and that means it's time to check what's on the agenda this week. Marcus Mabry, International Business Editor for our partner, The New York Times, and Andrew Walker from the BBC, both join us as we talk about what to look for in the news this week: health care reform, the G20 meeting's start in Pittsburgh and the UN General Assembly's kickoff.  All that and the future of ACORN and New York Governor David Paterson.

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The Takeaway

NATO Allies Question Afghan Commitment

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Amidst rising casualties, there are new questions about the commitment of NATO allies in Afghanistan. The BBC's Jonathon Marcus speaks to us about British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's offer to host a major international conference on Afghanistan, seeking to shift security responsibilities from foreign forces to Afghans. We also ask Robert Hunter, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and now a senior fellow at the RAND Corporation, whether Britain, Germany, and France are looking for an exit strategy.

"If the American people are getting to the point where we have major questions about being in Afghanistan, then the allies, with their public opinion, are going to start looking for the exit."
—Former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Robert Hunter on the possibility of NATO allies pulling out of Afghanistan

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The Takeaway

Arms are for Hugging ... Except in Iran

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The five permanent members of the United Nation's Security Council — the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, and China — are meeting in Frankfurt today, along with Germany. On the agenda: Iran's nuclear program. We talk to the BBC's Jonathan Marcus about whether stronger economic sanctions against Tehran may be in the works.

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The Takeaway

John Bolton on Negotiating with Terrorists

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Former Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton joins us this morning to debate the proper way to interact with North Korea and the resurgence of former President Bill Clinton. Clinton returned to the national spotlight when he made a surprise trip to North Korea to negotiate the release of two American journalists held by the closed communist country. Even while the behind-the-scenes negotiations for the journalists release were happening, North Korea was testing missiles and escalating verbal tensions with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. So what does Clinton’s trip do, if anything, for the nuclear issues at the heart of our country’s North Korean agenda? Ambassador Bolton has some strong opinions on that subject.

Click through for a transcript of this interview.

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The Takeaway

A Refugee Crisis Unfolds in Pakistan

Thursday, May 07, 2009

The Pakistani government began a large air and ground assault yesterday, launching attacks against close to 7,000 Taliban militants in the Swat Valley. The fighting came just hours ahead of meetings between President Barack Obama and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari in Washington to explore ways to boost Islamabad's fight against terror. Now, close to 40,000 Pakistanis are fleeing the battles unfolding in Pakistan's Swat Valley and areas surrounding the Pakistani capital. The mass exodus may spark the biggest refugee crisis Pakistan has ever seen, particularly as reports come in saying the Taliban is blocking exits routes to try to keep civilians in place. Joining The Takeaway from Islamabad is Mark Dummet of the BBC who is covering the refugee situation. Also joining the conversation is Ron Redmond, the chief spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva, Switzerland.

For more, read Dexter Filkins' article, Pakistan Strife Fills a Hospital With Refugees, in today's New York Times.

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The Takeaway

Beyond Black Hawk Down: U.S. involvement in Somalia

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A donor’s conference for Somalia is underway today in Brussels. The United Nations hopes to raise more than $250 million to improve security in the anarchic nation. This comes on the heels of United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, has said it is too dangerous to send UN peacekeepers to Somalia and that it could exacerbate the armed conflict there. Also attending the donor's conference is Somali President Sheikh Sharif, a former Islamist rebel leader elected in January at U.N.-brokered talks and widely seen as the best hope for restoring stability. While Somali gangs have made headlines seizing ships in the Indian Ocean, U.S. involvement in Somalia goes beyond our recent adventures with Somali pirates on the high seas.

The Takeaway is taking a deeper look at U.S. interests in Somalia with Bronwyn Bruton, a Somalia expert with the Council on Foreign Relations and with the BBC’s Mike Wooldrige in Brussels who is reporting on the donors' conference.
"We need to try hard to help the Somalis understand that we're not out to get them, and I'm not sure we're doing a good job of that right now."
—Bronwyn Bruton of the Council on Foreign Relations on U.S. relations with Somalia

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The Takeaway

Moon over Kilimanjaro

Friday, February 27, 2009

Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Tanzania, is famous for its snow-capped peaks and that snow cap has gotten a lot of attention recently. Climate change experts say its melting glaciers are dramatic evidence of the impact of human-induced climate change. That’s why UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon flew over the top of Kilamanjaro this morning—a stunt to draw attention to climate change. But are the retreating glaciers of Mount Kilamanjaro really the iconic symbol of climate change? Joining us to explain this is Doug Hardy from the University of Massachusetts. He's a “high elevations” specialist who took a trip to Mount Kilimanjaro earlier this month.

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The Takeaway

Thirty years later, the Khmer Rouge is on trial

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Thirty years after more than a million people died at the hands of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, a United Nations-backed trial is finally underway. A former Khmer Rouge leader was in court for opening hearings yesterday. For what this means for Cambodia we are joined by Jonathan Head, the BBC's South Asia correspondent.

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The Takeaway

Rwandan soldiers enter Congo

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Several thousand Rwandan soldiers are now in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Congolese government said it invited the Rwandan army in to disarm a militia force with ties to the Rwandan genocide who are using bases inside Congo. The United Nations has peacekeepers in the region to monitor this development in this long-lasting African war. For more we are joined by BBC's World Affairs Correspondent Mark Doyle in London and Geoffrey Mutagoma, a journalist in Kigali, Rwanda.

A quick look at refugees leaving Congo for Rwanda.

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