Lunes, 18 de febrero de 2008

It's time to take another look at the intelligence changes made after Sept. 11, 2001, and their impact on our intelligence capabilities and leadership at home and abroad.

It has been three years since the intelligence community was reorganized with passage of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act in December 2004, and the results are not encouraging. In fact, the leadership issue has become even more muddled.

The big problem with the new, two-headed intelligence structure surfaced again last month when Mike McConnell, the director of national intelligence (DNI), and CIA Director Michael Hayden traveled to Islamabad to try to persuade Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to authorize an increased CIA presence and operational activity in the unruly Northwest Frontier, a safe haven for the Taliban and the presumed home of Osama bin Laden.…  Seguir leyendo »

The United States has counterterrorism operations in places all over the world -- but not in Pakistan, the center of world terrorism. Last month, Defense Secretary Robert Gates made an offer: "We remain ready, willing and able to assist the Pakistanis and to partner with them, to provide additional training, to conduct joint operations, should they desire to do so." Within hours, fearing a backlash on Pakistani soil, President Pervez Musharraf rejected the American offer.

But there is another counterterrorism strategy option for Pakistan: Empower millions of oppressed people who live there to be native allies against the insurgents, through the establishment of a Global Tribal Fund.…  Seguir leyendo »

The assassination of Imad Mugniyah, the Hezbollah terrorist, in Damascus last week was a warning that even the most elusive prey can be hunted down — given skill, determination and patience on the part of the hunter. The blast that dispatched Mr. Mugniyah, a top target for Israeli and American intelligence for most of three decades, was heard loud and clear by Khaled Mashal, the exiled political chief of Palestinian Hamas, who at the time was meeting with Syrian intelligence officers only a few hundred yards away.

In 1997, Mr. Mashal escaped death at the hands of the Mossad, the Israeli spy agency, when a poisoning attempt in Amman, Jordan, went disastrously wrong.…  Seguir leyendo »

A few days ago I was talking to a young woman in the Kosovan capital, Pristina. With independence in everyone's minds, I asked her how the city felt these days. "Good," she said. "We hope everything will be fine." The glum, demoralised cloud that had hung over the city had lifted. "Now people are smiling more. There is a sense of optimism and hope in the air," she said.

Her sense of hope - a hope without euphoria - in many ways captures what yesterday's declaration of independence is really about.

Whatever the pictures coming from Kosovo this week might suggest, this declaration of independence is not really about street celebrations and flag flying.…  Seguir leyendo »

The world is holding its breath, still trying to grasp the potential enormity of what is unfolding. Economic downturns and stock market crashes are hardly unfamiliar, of course, even if a decade or so seems a long time ago for western consumers habituated to rising house prices and non-stop shopping. But this crisis threatens to be rather different, a Big One. Already it has forced the government to engage in what has been a heresy for almost three decades: nationalisation. Major crises such as the Northern Rock debacle are not matters of punctuation or pauses for reflection, but defining historical moments, marking the end of one era and the beginning of another.…  Seguir leyendo »

In this season of extraordinary American politicians, it is worth remembering one who, albeit accidentally, put his finger on the upheaval that has been Europe over a century. Strom Thurmond sat in the US Senate until shortly after his 100th birthday in 2002. In his final stretch in that chamber he was a prominent member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Towards the end of the 1990s the committee was hearing testimony from the Hungarian Ambassador to Washington. After he had spoken, the senator apparently took him to one side and whispered: “When I was at school, you and Austria were one country, when did the two of you split up?”…  Seguir leyendo »

It was clear from the start that some form of nationalisation would inevitably end the Northern Rock saga. But yesterday's announcement, far from ending this fiasco, threatened to push the Gordon Brown even deeper in the hole he has dug. The purpose of nationalisation should not have been to continue “business as usual”, with Northern Rock continuing to lend more money and attract retail deposits, with the backing of Treasury guarantees. The purpose should have been to secure £100 billion of taxpayers' money and to prevent any further damage to the British financial system.

What the Chancellor should have announced are the politically difficult but financially sound decisions he will probably have to concede in the end anyway, under the pressure from the financial markets, from European regulations and from lawsuits by the shareholders of Northern Rock.…  Seguir leyendo »

ES 1836. Tras cinco años de amargo aburrimiento como diplomático en Civita-Vecchia, Stendhal decide escribir por segunda vez una biografía de Napoleón. Han pasado quince años desde la muerte del emperador; la mala prensa de la Restauración ha quedado enterrada entre las ruinas de 1830 y la creciente simpatía de la alterada Francia de Luis Felipe de Orleáns; y el gordo, refinado y desencantado cónsul puede, por fin, recordar el sueño juvenil del heroísmo napoleónico sin temor a la censura.

El tiempo nos ha librado para siempre del Stendhal mundano de los salones, de su época amatoria apasionada, de su época de caído en desgracia bajo los reinados de Luis XVIII y Carlos X -«un gobierno que da vómito»- o de melómano de la ópera en Milán, pero no ha borrado del mundo sus proyecciones literarias ni la gran línea de fuerza que las orienta: los años de idealismo y gloria militar vividos a la sombra de Napoleón.…  Seguir leyendo »

Cómo saldremos de la presente incertidumbre económica? Pues, como diría un castizo, con mucho cuidado y procurando no destrozar la cristalería. Claro que, antes de nada, deberíamos estar de acuerdo en el diagnóstico de la situación de la economía española, aunque para ello es posible que haya que esperar a que expire el proceso electoral. Por el momento, la opinión de los analistas está muy condicionada por los datos recién aparecidos de inflación y empleo, ciertamente negativos, igual que los indicadores de confianza del consumidor o del pulso del sector servicios. Pero tampoco deberíamos olvidar que la economía española finalizó 2007 con un crecimiento notable y que, además, a lo largo del ejercicio se produjeron avances en el reequilibrio de las fuentes de crecimiento, con un mayor protagonismo de las exportaciones y de la inversión en el incremento del PIB.…  Seguir leyendo »

La penúltima propuesta electoral del Partido Popular, referente a la intención de introducir en la legislación española sobre inmigración la exigencia de un contrato de recepción, integración o asimilación, le sitúa en la línea más dura y ultraconservadora de las políticas de inmigración que se están poniendo en marcha en algunos países de la Unión Europea.

Dicha propuesta, y la política migratoria implícita en ella, tienen como objetivo el endurecimiento de las condiciones de entrada en el territorio nacional y, en todo caso, para los inmigrantes con menos formación, y ello sin mencionar las posibles violaciones de los derechos cívicos de los inmigrantes que esos contratos de integración pueden conllevar.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hoy la atención del mundo estará centrada en Pakistán, y con razón. Existen muchas razones para ello, pero conviene ordenarlas por orden de importancia. La primera y la más determinante, es que estas elecciones son cruciales para los paquistanís, para los hombres y mujeres de ese país, que tienen tanto derecho a intentar vivir mejor como cualquier otro. Y se esfuerzan. La segunda es porque está en juego, de un modo u otro, un importante movimiento o bien hacia una mayor estabilidad regional o bien hacia la dirección contraria. Y en este sentido, las relaciones de Pakistán con Afganistán son uno de los puntos clave para entender el problema afgano y para intentar solucionarlo.…  Seguir leyendo »