US and multilateralism: Interview with NYT writer Barbara Crossette: "While some Americans -- mostly politicians and military leaders -- may be worried abut a loss of sovereignty, the idea rings ironically hollow around the world, where people in many nations think they have already lost potentially all of theirs to this unbelievably powerful country...
It can be argued that the Clinton Administration played a large role in creating a more dangerous world by failing to coalesce democracies and deal effectively with many nascent problems that eventually turned into huge crises – the Taliban in Afghanistan or Saddam Hussein are examples. The Clinton years were wasted years, when Washington refused to deal creatively with the Afghan problem, and before Al Qaeda hijacked that tragic nation. Or to give stronger backing to United Nations disarmament work in Iraq. From early 1998 until the end of the Clinton years, the United Nations inspection system was allowed to drift hopelessly. Now we find the Bush Administration – or powerful voices in it – deriding inspections as if they had fallen into disrepute and disuse all by themselves.
This could be a great tragedy. The combination of sanctions and inspections was, in 1991, a promising way to tackle dictatorship short of prolonged war. American actions and inactions in the 1990s, which weakened the disarmament system without seriously undermining Saddam Hussein, make it unlikely that the world will readily try to use this tool again. ..
multilateralism was let down by the United States in the 1990s, just when a sea of new democracies, including poorer Europeans and many others in developing countries, needed American involvement most... [T]here has to be something else between 1990s-style disengagement and [today's] military action. That's where international organizations come in." 3:51:07 PM
GIS for poor world's cities
: "The United Nations has been given $15m to help it tackle poverty and the spread of cities. The grant will provide geographic information systems software to urban planners, and train them in its use. The money is to be shared among 1,000 cities in the developing world and comes from the Environmental Systems Research Institute (Esri), a US company. The cash is going to the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), set up to help governments tackle the problems of rapid urbanisation... The grant, which totals $15,162,500, will provide each city with about $15,000-worth of geographic information systems (GIS) software, technical support, upgrades and training. In 2003 about 350 cities are likely to benefit, with the others included later. " 12:53:22 PM