Agosto de 2007

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 »

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 »

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 »

Nobody loves Nouri Kamal al-Maliki. In his own country, the Iraqi prime minister heads a government of, by and for fractious Shiites, against which enraged Sunnis, among others, have taken up arms. In our country, which sustains him in power, both liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans call for his ouster. A National Intelligence Estimate finds his administration utterly incapable of settling the differences that are pulling his nation apart.

The bill of particulars against Maliki is long and convincing, but it all boils down to this: The prime minister has done nothing to reconcile Iraq's warring populations and, to the contrary, seems either content or resigned to heading a government that consolidates the Shiite ascendancy in Iraq.…  Seguir leyendo »

The stunning revelations contained in a new book, which show that Mother Teresa doubted God’s existence, will delight her detractors and confuse her admirers. Or is it the other way around?

The private journals and letters of the woman now known as Blessed Teresa of Calcutta will be released next month as “Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light,” and some excerpts have been published in Time magazine. The pious title of the book, however, is misleading. Most of its pages reveal not the serene meditations of a Catholic sister confident in her belief, but the agonized words of a person confronting a terrifying period of darkness that lasted for decades.…  Seguir leyendo »

The success of Abdullah Gül in becoming Turkey’s new President is a victory for democracy. But it is a blow for secularism, in that it accurately reflects the new strength of the conservative, low-key Islamic voters from the heart of Anatolia at the expense of the secular cities.

At the expense of the army, too. Despite the threats on Monday from the head of the armed forces that he saw “centres of evil” trying to undermine Turkey’s secular character, the scale of popular support for Gül’s AK party, and its big majority in parliament, has given the military little choice but to stand back.…  Seguir leyendo »

Foot and mouth disease is devastating to livestock, but rarely affects humans. The ability of a virus to cause disease in one host but not another is a poorly understood but common phenomenon. Scientists have recently found the remnants of a virus present in the genomes of chimpanzees and gorillas but absent in humans. Humans, it appears, evolved resistance to this virus millions of years ago. Paradoxically, however, the evolution of resistance to that now extinct virus may have made us more susceptible to HIV today.

Monkeys and humans are infected by many different viruses. Some of them, called retroviruses, replicate in our DNA.…  Seguir leyendo »

The first fires of the present Greek catastrophe were started on Mount Penteli, a towering slope of forest 30 kilometres north of Athens. I grew up there in my teenage years. At the turn of the 1980s it was an idyllic place to be.

The country tracks were not tarmac. You could walk up through the forest paths to the shepherds’ huts, and wander through the glades. If I’d been able to paint I’d have taken my water colours out, or at least a guitar to serenade the landscape that Byron said was too melancholy to write in. But unfortunately I couldn’t play that, either.…  Seguir leyendo »

The clock is nearing midnight for the withdrawal of the beleaguered British troops from their base in the palace in Basra. The date at which the 650 soldiers will retire from their position to join their 5,000 comrades at the airport outside the city is imminent. In the two months since they arrived in Iraq this battle group has been under virtual siege, its palace quarters subject to the highest rate of incoming mortar and rocket fire anywhere in Iraq. Little surprise, then, that they have already suffered the worst casualty rate of any British unit serving in Iraq, including that of forces involved in the 2003 invasion.…  Seguir leyendo »

This month, the Bush administration tightened the screws on Iran yet again. Its move to formally designate Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization is the latest in a wave of state, federal and international efforts to pressure the regime of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad into reconsidering its nuclear weapons program and increasingly aggressive sponsorship of terrorism throughout the Middle East.

Five bills are pending in Congress that would encourage divestment and eliminate loopholes in the Iran Sanctions Act, among other things. At the state level, bills are pending in at least 13 legislatures to compel state pension funds to divest from companies and financial institutions doing business with Iran; in Florida and Louisiana, such measures have become law.…  Seguir leyendo »