Agosto de 2007

La vida breve de la princesa Diana ha dejado tras de sí la pregunta ineludible sobre lo que habría podido llegar a ser. ¿Habría llegado a desarrollar todo su potencial como activista de causas humanitarias a escala mundial, como pareció apuntar con la última campaña que emprendió contra las minas anti personas, brillantemente llevada a cabo, o habría caído en el vagabundeo lujoso de cualquier princesa famosa indiferente a todo, como pareció apuntar con su postrer idilio con un coleccionista de aventuras como Dodi Al Fayed?

Las circunstancias escabrosas de su muerte, hace ahora 10 años, ensombrecen el hecho de que, en los últimos meses de su vida, Diana se sintió más consciente que nunca del potencial de su proyección pública.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hay lugares donde la belleza natural parece venir acompañada de una maldición. Guatemala, uno de los países más atractivos del planeta, donde se ocultan joyas de la naturaleza llenas de color e historia, padece una sucesión de infortunios. Es el país más grande de Centroamérica, con 12 millones de habitantes. Más de un 50% son ladinos (mestizos blancos), y gran parte del resto son mayas, aunque según las zonas, las lenguas (como los colores de sus vestimentas) son muy variadas, hasta 23. También es diversa la implantación de religiones, pues junto al catolicismo y el sincretismo con creencias autóctonas son influyentes sectas protestantes, varias financiadas desde EE UU.…  Seguir leyendo »

Las masas llenaban las calles de Londres y parecía como si el peso de los ramos de flores y los osos de peluche pudiera derribar las verjas del Palacio de Kensington. Los medios de comunicación británicos -con muy excepcionales salvedades- atacaban a la Familia Real británica por su frialdad y distanciamiento. Por primera vez la Reina -y en este caso mucho más que el Príncipe de Gales- era objeto del reproche público y publicado de sus súbditos. Recuerdo con nitidez cuánto me impresionaron las palabras de una amiga, de incuestionable, inteligente y muy efectiva lealtad monárquica: «Esto se ha acabado. Los Windsor se van a ir a su casa».…  Seguir leyendo »

Recent weeks have brought a lot of misplaced criticism of the United Kingdom's role in southern Iraq. It is time to set the record straight.

The question some people have asked is: Have British forces failed in Basra? The answer is no.

Following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime, the international community recognized, through a series of U.N. Security Council resolutions, the need to help the Iraqi people forge a better future for themselves. The people of all coalition countries know the sacrifices involved on the part of our brave armed forces.

The United States, Britain and other countries that made up the U.N.-mandated…  Seguir leyendo »

The government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has had more than 15 months to try to pacify the Sunni insurgency by offering national accords on oil-sharing, provincial elections and de-Baathification. It has done none of these. Instead, Gen. David Petraeus has pacified a considerable number of Sunni tribes with grants of local autonomy, guns and U.S. support in jointly fighting al-Qaeda.

Petraeus's strategy is not very pretty. It carries risk. But it has been effective.

The Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad, however, is not happy with Petraeus's actions. One top Maliki aide complained that they will leave Iraq " an armed society and militias."…  Seguir leyendo »

For more than a year, men and women in our armed forces have been urging the United States to bring to safety the Iraqi translators and others who have worked beside them and are now the victims of retaliation. A Marine captain, Zachary Iscol, said he owed his life and the lives of his men to his Iraqi translator. “Just coming to work was an act of heroism and courage on his part,” Captain Iscol said.

On July 7, the administration received another urgent call to action on this issue, this time from Ambassador Ryan Crocker. In a cable to Washington, he laid out the dangers his Iraqi employees faced.…  Seguir leyendo »

For years past, international affairs have had an uncanny feeling of a time warp, a loop playing endlessly over and again, what goes round comes round. Ninety years ago there were British troops in Basra, and bloodshed between Jews and Arabs would shortly break out in Jerusalem. A hundred years or more after the Salisbury and Campbell-Bannerman governments, we have been dealing with just the same problems as they faced, from Ulster to South Africa, while even the conflicts in the Balkans have often seemed like the old Eastern Question writ new.

And an important anniversary also has contemporary resonances: today is the centenary of the Anglo-Russian convention of August 31 1907.…  Seguir leyendo »

Your leader (Islam and democracy, August 22) is correct to state that a military intervention to defend secularism in Turkey would be "bad for the military itself, ... bad for Turkey and, indeed, bad for the rest of the Muslim world". Moreover, it should not be forgotten that it was the Turkish army that prepared the fertile ground for the development of political Islam. The military coup of 1980 cleared the way for political Islamists by crushing established political parties and by propagating an authoritarian ideology called the Turkish-Islamic synthesis, a poisonous mix of nationalism and Islamism.

However, I find your conclusion troubling.…  Seguir leyendo »

There has been important progress on Darfur in the past two months. In July we agreed on the deployment of a robust UN/African Union (AU) force and the start of peace talks. But the situation remains completely unacceptable. In the coming weeks and months, we commit as leaders to redouble our efforts to make further progress.

At the end of July the UN agreed to our plan. UN Resolution 1769, passed –– for the first time –– unanimously, was the culmination of intense diplomatic activity over the crisis in Darfur. In the next few weeks, one of the largest UN troop deployments –– this time in partnership with the African Union –– will begin arriving in Darfur.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hace unos días publicó el CIS los resultados de su encuesta Los ciudadanos y el Estado, llevada a cabo en el marco del International Social Survey Program (ISSP), y con datos recogidos entre enero y marzo de 2007. Gracias a ella podemos comprobar cómo los españoles siguen, al menos en sus opiniones, fiando una gran parte de las soluciones de sus problemas al Estado.

La primera impresión que ofrecen los datos es la de un acendrado estatismo. No me refiero sólo a proporciones de más de tres cuartas partes de los encuestados que están absolutamente seguros de que el Gobierno tiene la responsabilidad de ofrecer asistencia sanitaria para todos o asegurar pensiones dignas para los ancianos.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ayad Allawi, the former interim prime minister of Iraq, hinted in a television interview last weekend at one of the war's least understood turning points: America's decision not to challenge Iranian intervention in Iraq's January 2005 elections.

"Our adversaries in Iraq are heavily supported financially by other quarters. We are not," Allawi told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "We fought the elections with virtually no support whatsoever, except for Iraqis and the Iraqis who support us."

Behind Allawi's comment lies a tale of intrigue and indecision by the United States over whether to mount a covert-action program to confront Iran's political meddling. Such a plan was crafted by the Central Intelligence Agency and then withdrawn -- because of opposition from an unlikely coalition that is said to have included Rep.…  Seguir leyendo »

"We," the finance minister says, "have a terrible past." She also says: "In a way, we've had it too easy." Christine Lagarde is correct on both counts.

Her first "we" refers to Europe, the second to France. Both Europe's cataclysms and France's comforts condition the context for reforms.

Lagarde, 51, has a more informed affection for America than anyone who has ever risen so high in this country's government. She was an exchange student at a Washington prep school and a Capitol Hill intern during the Nixon impeachment proceedings. As a partner in a large law firm based in Chicago, for several years she lived in, and loved, the most American city.…  Seguir leyendo »

In early 2005, Americans still seemed interested in the war in Iraq. If I mentioned that I had been a soldier there, they wanted to learn more about the country and how our troops were faring. By the end of 2005, as the violence continued to rise, they began to seem less interested, and by mid-2006 nobody wanted to talk about the war.

Regardless of their feelings about the troops or the case for going to war, Americans I spoke with last year either wanted to ignore Iraq or believed it was already lost. That seems to be the prevailing sentiment today, and it's something the Democratic Party has used to great effect: We've lost the war, so let's get out.…  Seguir leyendo »

Nearly 40 years after the Americans escaped from the rooftops of Saigon, this great country may be on the verge of a second retreat, this time from Iraq. To be sure, this exodus has not begun yet, and President George Bush's recent speech on the "lessons from Vietnam" suggests that he is in denial. How superficial the parallel was that he drew has been noted by many. The consensus is that the speech was little more than spin, preparing official reaction to the publication of General David Petraeus's report on the effects of the "surge" of US forces in Iraq.

Yet no amount of spin or simplification should conceal the magnitude of the Iraq disaster and the damage to America's reputation.…  Seguir leyendo »

I had sworn never to fall into an anti-globalisation rant but, let's face it, globalisation is a bummer. And I'm not saying this because I'm French. All of us watch the daily turmoil in the financial markets with fear and little understanding; wake up in a gut-wrenching panic about the imminent housing property crash; suffer devastating floods and unprecedented heatwaves (don't tell me there is no link between globalisation and climate change). And soon we'll be struck by an even bigger crisis. Globalisation is going to strike us where it hurts most: in our stomachs. Some of us have already forgotten the meaning of seasonal fruit and vegetables and think that Starbucks offers authentic Italian coffee culture.…  Seguir leyendo »

There is no foreign country that matters more to Iran than Iraq (except perhaps the US). The puzzle is why the US imagines that Iranian involvement in Iraq will melt away if it protests angrily.

Yesterday’s skirmish, in which the US arrested eight Iranians in Baghdad and then let them go after consulting the Iraqi Government, was trivial and irrelevant to the broader clash between the two countries. However, it is another small sign that Iraq’s Shia-led Government is prepared to side with Tehran against the US, if only to avoid antagonism.

There is no reason – although Tehran may not need one – to connect the incident with President Bush’s speech the previous night, in which he declared that Iran’s nuclear ambitions put the region “under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust”.…  Seguir leyendo »

A un país se le pueden plantear dos problemas en lo que atañe al número de sus habitantes. Uno es que ese número crezca demasiado, con lo que la llamada tarta nacional, si no aumenta en proporción, tendrá que repartirse entre más personas y cada una tocará a menos. Un país pobre, donde tal suceda, en lugar de salir de la pobreza, se hundirá más en ella. Pero también puede darse el problema contrario, a saber, que la población, en vez de crecer, disminuya. Entonces, la cifra de personas económicamente activas acabará bajando y, en cambio, la de jubilados aumentará, creándose una situación insostenible a la larga.…  Seguir leyendo »

Poco a poco Irán va logrando sus objetivos. Tras la guerra privada entre Hizboláh e Israel, que puso en evidencia la extrema debilidad de las instituciones libanesas, ha llegado el conflicto civil entre nacionalistas e islamistas en Palestina, con el resultado de todos conocido. En ambos casos el objetivo era el mismo: impedir los procesos de democratización en marcha y cualquier entendimiento con las potencias occidentales e Israel.

Con un gobierno provisional, una Autoridad Palestina extremadamente debilitada y una sociedad rota hablar de «proceso de paz» es un anacronismo. Un acuerdo resultado de un diálogo entre israelíes y palestinos es imposible, por la inexistencia de un gobierno árabe suficientemente representativo al oeste del Jordán.…  Seguir leyendo »

Empecé leyendo a Francisco Umbral en El Norte de Castilla de Valladolid, cuando yo aún no había llegado a la Universidad y donde él ya trabajaba de reportero casi estrella y entrevistaba a actrices jóvenes y otras famosas futuras. Las entrevistas de Umbral eran refrescantes y originales, y estaban muy bien escritas. No era extraño que Miguel Delibes, alma de El Norte, se hubiera fijado en el joven periodista y le hubiera incorporado a la cuadra de nuevos escritores del periódico, en la que ya estaban el cura Martín Descalzo, una institución en la ciudad, futuro ganador del Nadal, y a la que pronto llegaría el cronista Manu Leguineche, que luego sentó cátedra como enviado especial a las guerras de todo el mundo.…  Seguir leyendo »

Congress's recent changes to American visa laws will be of little comfort to people in Central Europe who wish to travel to this country. Citizens of these countries will continue to undergo visa application procedures whose rules they do not understand and which they consider to be anachronistic, unjust and even humiliating.

American visa policy is driven by two concerns: fear of unwanted immigrants and concern about U.S. security. These concerns are reasonable, but it's difficult to understand why they should create a barrier against people from Central Europe.

Those who think that the first priority of every Pole is to settle in Chicago have a rather outdated view of how things are in my country today.…  Seguir leyendo »