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With relentlessly bad news out of Syria, the search continues for what the world can do to put pressure on Assad’s regime and to lay the groundwork for a future, legitimate Syrian government. The case for preemptive contract sanctions is becoming ever more compelling. Under this approach, the United States, United Kingdom, and other members of the Friends of Syria, would declare that new contracts with the Assad regime are illegitimate and that our courts should not enforce them if a legitimate successor government in Syria repudiates them. This could deter new loans and investments in Syria’s oil or other sectors and send a signal to the Assad regime that the economic pressure will not loosen.
For the third time in recent months, Russia, supported by China, blocked United Nations action to put additional pressure on Bashir Assad and help end the violence in Syria. A UN Security Council resolution is the preferred way to go. But if that is not possible, preemptive contract sanctions can tighten the squeeze on Assad without the cooperation of Russia and China.
The Friends of Syria coalition will meet in Paris on July 6 to discuss how they might stem the escalating violence in Syria. Once again there will be much hand wringing on what to do and a search for new ideas. Owen Barder and I, who have been working with our colleagues at CGD and officials in the U.S.
This commentary also appeared on The Huffington Post and Global Post
Last week at a United Nations conference, donors pledged more than $10 billion to finance reconstruction and development investments in Haiti. The United States promised a hefty $1.15 billion.
But pledging money is the easy part. The United States, the lead donor and friend with the greatest interest in Haiti's future development, can do much more, in two ways: its own aid programs can be more effective; and it can take steps beyond aid that are far more critical to long-run prosperity for Haiti's people.
**This post is co-authored with CGD senior fellow David Wheeler
Today's Washington Post column by David Ignatius finally inches popular understanding in the U.S. a bit further in the right direction on why climate change could be so costly to human society. It isn't just the direct costs of seawalls and more destructive hurricanes that climate change will bring. It's the risk that institutional arrangements to deal with those costs will not be resilient and will collapse under the resulting pressure--so that, as Chinua Achebe suggested about post-colonial West Africa, things do literally "fall apart".
To: Jim Lehrer
From: Nancy Birdsall
Subject: Missed opportunity to include development in the foreign policy debate
Dear Jim - How regrettable that the presidential debate on foreign policy and security focused on such a predictably narrow set of topics.