23 September, 2009

News from the 64th UN General Assembly

  • Obama delivered a 41 minute speech to the General Assembly, which, in stark contrast to his predecessor, drew repeated applause. The overarching theme was a cliche (though not unimportant) call for renewed multilateralism. More interesting were Obama's stated priorities for the US and the world: nuclear non-proliferation, resolution of Middle Eastern conflicts, a coordinated response to disasters such as Darfur, and concrete action on global climate change.
  • Obama met with Russian President Medvedev; the Russians are apparently signaling that they are willing to reverse their position on Iran sanctions.
  • Obama antes up on his administration's no-settlement push; the quoted response of Israel's Foreign Minister is strikingly sanguine. Is Netanyahu resigned to making the tough choice on settlements, or are they hoping to string Obama along for as long as possible but stop short of an actual change in policy? I'm going with the latter.
  • The crisis in Honduras hits the UN, with the Honduran coup government remaining internationally isolated after deposed president Zelaya surreptitiously returned to the country several days ago. He's currently holed up in the Brazilian embassy, and the coup leaders are in a tight spot. Violating Brazilian territorial integrity by storming the embassy would be a disaster; but with Zelaya there rallying supporters, the situation is growing more unstable by the minute. They will be forced to negotiate from a weakened position, exactly what they were trying to avoid by keeping Zelaya out of the country. I don't think its an exaggeration to say this is a seminal moment for Latin American democracy. Militaries and radical opposition groups around the continent will be watching to see how much the US, OAS, and UN let Michiletti get away with.

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