Domingo, 23 de noviembre de 2008

It is not a stretch to say that Barack Obama faces stiffer, more vexing challenges on more fronts than any president in recent memory. In the coming weeks, the Opinion section will publish a series of Op-Ed articles by experts on the most formidable issues facing the new president. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are the subject of today’s articles.

1) The Little Battles We Must Win.

2) A War Presidency, On Two Fronts.

3) How To Leave Iraq, Intact.

4) The ‘Good War’ Isn’t Worth Fighting.

5) Out Of Conflict, a Partnership.

6) One Surge does Not Fill All.

7) Thanks, But You Can Go Now.

Headlines and heated rhetoric to the contrary, the withdrawal of American combat troops from Iraq has never been a question of whether, but rather of when and, more important, how. The task facing President-elect Barack Obama is accomplishing the drawdown without reigniting the war and — if possible — in a way that helps Iraq move toward reconciliation.

The “when” question was answered at least provisionally this month by the Dec. 31, 2011, deadline set in the accord reached between the United States and Iraqi governments (and is scheduled to come up for a vote in the Iraqi Parliament next week).…  Seguir leyendo »

Barack Obama will take office having campaigned that he would fight the war on terrorism by focusing on winning the war in Afghanistan and eliminating Al Qaeda’s and the Taliban’s sanctuary in Pakistan. He recognizes that these two countries have become the center of Al Qaeda’s activities and of the violent Islamist extremism that challenges the real values of Islam. He also promised he would find the best way to withdraw from Iraq, and to create a new balance of security in the Persian Gulf.

He has less than two months to go from broad rhetoric to concrete day-to-day action. On Jan.…  Seguir leyendo »

As a brigade commander in Baghdad in 2003, I befriended a resident, Adnan Abdul Sahib, who went on to serve two terms as the head of the city advisory council. In 2007, however, sectarian violence forced his family from their home in central Baghdad, and they fled the country. Last month I talked with Adnan in Colorado, where he and his family are now refugees. “The fatal mistake the United States made in Iraq,” he told me, “was to empower extreme sectarian political parties. It’s time to give the moderates a voice.”

Barack Obama has the opportunity to recast American policy toward Iraq in a meaningful way, by providing much-needed support to its political center.…  Seguir leyendo »

Afghanistan does not matter as much as Barack Obama thinks.

Terrorism is not the key strategic threat facing the United States. America, Britain and our allies have not created a positive stable environment in the Middle East. We have no clear strategy for dealing with China. The financial crisis is a more immediate threat to United States power and to other states; environmental catastrophe is more dangerous for the world. And even from the perspective of terrorism, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are more lethal.

President-elect Obama’s emphasis on Afghanistan and his desire to send more troops and money there is misguided.…  Seguir leyendo »

Iraq offers the Obama administration an extraordinary opportunity. Overall violence and American casualties have dropped remarkably since the surge began last year. Iraqi security forces have grown in size and effectiveness. American and Iraqi troops have inflicted a series of defeats on insurgents and militias. The slow but steady construction of a new post-Saddam Hussein state structure will lift the burden of securing Iraq against internal disorder from American forces in the next couple of years, if current trends continue.

The situation remains delicate, however, as Iraq moves into provincial elections in January and parliamentary elections at the end of 2009.…  Seguir leyendo »

The surge in Iraq has been one of the most impressive military accomplishments in recent years. It has been so successful that the emerging consensus is that what may now be needed in Afghanistan is a similar surge of American forces. President-elect Barack Obama campaigned on his intention to do so, as did his former opponent, John McCain.

As one who is occasionally — and incorrectly — portrayed as an opponent of the surge in Iraq, I believe that while the surge has been effective in Iraq, we must also recognize the conditions that made it successful. President Bush’s bold decision to deploy additional troops to support a broader counterinsurgency strategy of securing and protecting the Iraqi people was clearly the right decision.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Iraq war is over.

It ends five years too late and at far too terrible a cost in lives, money and idealism. The difficult and tortuous negotiations over the American withdrawal now coming to an end in Baghdad offer a distorted glimpse of what might have been.

The independent, democratically elected Iraqi government now representing the interests of its people is nearly identical to the government that could have been formed in 2003. Five years of occupation have only hardened positions and damaged relations between America and Iraq. In fact, the only popular new political movements in Iraq are built around a desire for an end to the occupation, and the principal threat to the current government is its close relationship to the occupier.…  Seguir leyendo »

Toda crisis, y ésta parece ser de las más profundas, introduce una importante cesura en el tiempo histórico. Nunca es un corte drástico, desde luego, siempre hay elementos de lo viejo que siguen perviviendo en lo nuevo. Pero sí sirven al menos para hablar de un antes y un después. Y creo que esto es lo que va a ocurrir con esta nueva crisis. La gran cuestión es si somos capaces de anticipar los rasgos básicos de la sociedad que viene, si podemos saber en qué se diferenciará de lo ya conocido. Tengo para mí que la sociedad del futuro inmediato abandonará algunos de los rasgos más conspicuos de eso que hemos venido calificando como posmodernidad para volver a muchos de los de la anterior fase moderna sin que ello signifique un pleno retorno a ella.…  Seguir leyendo »

El decía que a Obama le sería difícil lograr la paz en Oriente Próximo porque el problema se ha vuelto muy complicado. Yo le respondí que no, que el problema es muy sencillo, el mundo entero conoce la solución, casi da vergüenza repetirla: la paz a cambio de los territorios, dos Estados que convivan uno junto a otro.

Me dijo: «Sí, pero ¿y Jerusalén, los refugiados palestinos de 1948, los asentamientos, el trazado de las fronteras?» Me quedé de una pieza. Le respondí que todo, absolutamente todo, se había discutido mil veces, párrafo por párrafo, con los mapas en la mano; los negociadores llegaron a hacer horas extraordinarias en Ginebra y todos los documentos están listos.…  Seguir leyendo »

Las cosas están claras: mientras las víctimas de la behetría reinante en el campo republicano durante los primeros meses de la Guerra Civil reciben el tratamiento de mártires -977 de ellos disfrutan ya de la gloria eterna de los beatos y está en marcha la ascensión a las alturas de 500 más-, los exterminados metódicamente por el entonces llamado Movimiento Salvador -los ciento catorce mil y pico de desaparecidos, ejecutados por la Falange y los militares alzados contra la legalidad constitucional desde el 17 de julio de 1936 hasta un cuarto de siglo después-, deben seguir pudriéndose en las fosas comunes esparcidas por toda la Península, según el portavoz de los obispos, so pena de «reabrir heridas», «sembrar cizaña entre nuestros compatriotas» y «perturbar la paz social».…  Seguir leyendo »

«La América insomne» era el titulo de un excelente reportaje de Eusebio Val, en este periódico, sobre los cambios sociales en EE. UU., donde se relacionaba horas de trabajo, atascos y horarios de los ciudadanos. La conclusión era que los incrementos de los tiempos de los desplazamientos en el área metropolitana de Washington implican cambios en los horarios del trabajo y de los servicios. La distancia cada vez mayor entre lugar de residencia, de trabajo y de compra y el uso masivo de transportes privados, características de la mayoría de las conurbaciones americanas, cambian los horarios personales y colectivos de los ciudadanos y de la ciudad.…  Seguir leyendo »

Los inmigrantes son incorregibles. Tienen demasiados hijos. Si al menos estos niños fueran como los demás, es decir, blancos, tranquilos, hablaran perfectamente italiano o castellano. ¡Ah, si pudieran ser mudos, tal vez incluso un poco sordos, quizá incluso invisibles! De hecho la mejor solución es que sean transparentes, es decir, inexistentes.

¿Por qué se casan los inmigrantes y hacen el amor? Es una cuestión que se les debería plantear cuando llegan a Europa. ¿Y por qué sus mujeres no usan métodos anticonceptivos? Antes, en los tiempos felices en que la inmigración estaba oculta, alejada del centro de la ciudad, en los tiempos en que sólo los hombres solteros venían a trabajar a Europa, era ideal.…  Seguir leyendo »

Los resultados de la primera subasta del Fondo de Adquisición de Activos financieros, arbitrada para suministrar liquidez a nuestro sistema bancario, han suscitado explicaciones muy dispares. Recordemos que el Tesoro estaba dispuesto a conceder créditos a dos años, a cambio de la pignoración de activos de elevada calidad, a las entidades que lo integran hasta un máximo total de 5.000 millones de euros. La respuesta fue muy tibia, por cuanto tan solo se han adjudicado 2.115 millones a un conjunto de 28 entidades de las 360 que podían optar a conseguir una porción del importe total.

Para algunos comentaristas, este resultado demuestra que el presidente Zapatero está en lo cierto cuando, ufano, proclama la buena salud de nuestro sistema financiero.…  Seguir leyendo »

I write to you from a US federal prison. It is far from a country club or even a regimental health spa. I work quite hard but fulfillingly, teaching English and the history of the United States to some of my co-residents. There is practically unlimited access to e-mails and the media and plenty of time for visitors.

Many of the other co-residents are quite interesting and affable, often in a Damon Runyon way, and the regime is not uncivilised. In eight months here there has not been the slightest unpleasantness with anyone. It is a little like going back to boarding school, which I somewhat enjoyed nearly 50 years ago (before being expelled for insubordination) and is a sharp change of pace after 16 years as chairman of The Daily Telegraph.…  Seguir leyendo »