James Traub on Winning Back Our Allies
James Traub is a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine, where he has worked since 1998. From 1994 to 1997, he was a staff writer for The New Yorker. He has also written for The New York Review of Books, Foreign Affairs, The Atlantic Monthly, The New Republic and elsewhere. His articles have been widely reprinted and anthologized. He has written extensively about international affairs and especially the United Nations.
In recent years, he has reported from Iran, Iraq, Sierra Leone, East Timor, Vietnam, India, Kosovo and Haiti. He has also written often about national politics and urban affairs, including education, immigration, race, poverty and crime.
His books include, The Best Intentions: Kofi Annan and the UN in the Era of American World Power; The Devil's Playground: A Century of Pleasure and Profit in Times Square; City On A Hill, a book on open admissions at City College; and The Freedom Agenda: Why America Must Spread Democracy (Just Not the Way George Bush Did). He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
James Traub: I mean, the whole idea that this is America’s gift to the world is what makes it sound so obnoxious. I mean, there are many things that had made us seem obnoxious. I mean, torturing Guantanamo and so forth have made America seem like a country that scarcely has a right to be telling other people how to behave democratically. But the whole, this whole idea that God poured these democratic blessings on America, and now, in our bounty we are affording it to others that is going to provoke the nationalism even if not [virulently] nationalist person. And so, clearly, in the future, we have to view this as a [collective] enterprise. An enterprise which all of the world’s democracies recognize as being a matter of deep security as well as a moral imperative for all of them. So that means working with their allies it means working with the UN, the UN Development Program where we focuses on issues of governance, the rule of law. Means working with the financial institutions like the World Bank and the IMF, so, yes, it has to become a [collective] enterprise.
We need to return to our collective enterprises like the UN and the IMF, advises James Traub.
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