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This blog has moved to Foreign Policy magazine’s website. Check it out here.

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The sanctions vote: a victory for the establishment

The Security Council has at long last voted on the next round of Iran sanctions. The final tally was 12-2 in favor (with Lebanon abstaining and Brazil and Turkey opposed). The Obama administration is emphasizing the severity of the measures, although it seems clear that these are modest sanctions unlikely to alter Iran’s nuclear course.  

One of the interesting sub-themes of the Council vote is the apparent inability of Brazil and Turkey to swing the nonpermanent Council members against the sanctions, if indeed they tried to do so.  (Lebanon was always going to be skeptical, and apparently agonized up to the last minute.)  The Council diplomacy recently has had overtones of the established powers (the permanent five) against the rising powers (Brazil and Turkey). In that context, the vote was clearly a victory for the establishment.

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NATO belt-tightening

Could budget cuts fracture NATO in a way that the Soviets never could? Washington is nervous that spending cuts in Europe might aggravate the already substantial gap between the U.S. and its alliance partners in terms of military capabilities and, more broadly, appetite for far-off stabilization missions.

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Ukraine’s new middle ground

Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich is plotting a new institutional course for his country: steering toward EU membership but away from NATO. Interestingly, Yanukovich has also resisted joining the Moscow-dominated Collective Security Treaty Organization.

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The Flotilla in the Council

Colum Lynch reports that Turkey is pressing for a Security Council statement on the Israeli commando raid on a flotilla headed for Gaza. The issue comes at a delicate moment for U.S. diplomats, as they attempt to forge Council consensus on the next round of Iran sanctions. And that dynamic may give those pushing for criticism of Israel needed leverage, as the U.S. will be loath to veto a draft resolution.

There’s an interesting parallel here to the months preceding the first Gulf War. Then, violence flared on the Temple Mount as the U.S. was struggling to keep together its fragile coalition against Iraq. To placate key Arab allies, the first Bush administration ended up agreeing to criticism of Israel that it normally would have vetoed. Even so, the negotiation of the precise wording was drawn out and laborious.

How Council diplomacy plays out this time will in large part depend on the attitude of Council members such as Turkey and Lebanon. If they try to force a tough resolution to a vote, they could push Washington into a difficult corner: The Obama administration needs goodwill from Council members, but it also would like to repair frayed relations with Israel.

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Multilateral Minutes

Senior IMF official to be tapped as Poland Central Bank governor.

NATO supplies held up in Central Asia.

The EU and NATO talk Turkey.

A primer on the coming G20 debate about a global bank tax.

The World Bank plays hardball with Pakistan on anti-poverty funds.

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Top cops swap tips

This week in Cambodia, more than a hundred law enforcement officials from the ASEAN countries, as well as numerous observers, met to exchange ideas and discuss strategy. China, for its part, pledged to share more information with the group. International working groups like this rarely attract much attention, but some scholars (including Anne-Marie Slaughter, now director of policy planning at the State Department) have argued that this is where much of today’s global governance actually happens.

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