Martes, 6 de julio de 2010

In Africa this past week a completely peaceful presidential election was held. International observers said it met all the western standards for a free election. What’s more, the incumbent president fully accepted the result the minute it was announced and handed over power to his successor and bitter political rival – and on accepting his victory, the president-elect thanked and congratulated the outgoing president for his services to his country.

What makes this election remarkable, and an important example not just to Africa but to the whole of the developing world – especially Muslim countries – is that it took place in Somaliland, a self-declared republic that broke away from the rest of Somalia 20 years ago, which doesn’t get a penny of international assistance, and which hosts an estimated 600,000 refugees from the continuing civil war in the rest of Somalia.…  Seguir leyendo »

Why hasn’t the Deepwater Horizon spill, one of the worst ecological disasters in US history, led to a storming of the Bastille of Big Oil? Why aren’t the most urgent problems of our time – environmental crises and climate change – being confronted with the same energy, idealism and optimism as past tragedies of poverty, tyranny and war? The current state of the oil industry is reminiscent of the ancien regime on the eve of the revolution.

The Gulf of Mexico disaster has many faces. BP’s incompetence is one. But there is also the failure of legislative oversight. What until recently was praised as an economic stimulus policy is now being criticised as «collusion with scoundrels».…  Seguir leyendo »

Perceptions, once firmly established, can often obscure the truth. The homicide rate in Brazil is twice that in Mexico, but it is my country that is portrayed as lawless and violence-ridden. So it is important to note some sudden good news: On Sunday, in 14 of Mexico’s 32 states, millions of citizens went to the polls and, defying the threat of violence from drug cartels, decisively consolidated our young democracy.

They did not, as had been feared, simply entrust local government in all 14 states to the PRI (the Institutional Revolutionary Party), which had ruled Mexico for 71 years until 2000.…  Seguir leyendo »

Given President Obama’s glaring domestic policy missteps, it is understandable that the public has largely been blinded to his foreign policy failings. In fact, these may have been even more damaging to America’s future. He fought to reinstate Honduras’s pro-Chávez president while stalling Colombia’s favored-trade status. He castigated Israel at the United Nations but was silent about Hamas having launched 7,000 rockets from the Gaza Strip. His policy of «engagement» with rogue nations has been met with North Korean nuclear tests, missile launches and the sinking of a South Korean naval vessel, while Iran has accelerated its nuclear program, funded terrorists and armed Hezbollah with long-range missiles.…  Seguir leyendo »

A stream of disheartening economic news last week, including flagging consumer confidence and meager private-sector job growth, is leading experts to worry that the recession is coming back. At the same time, many policymakers, particularly in Europe, are slashing government budgets in an effort to lower debt levels and thereby restore investor confidence, reduce interest rates and promote growth.

There is an unrecognized problem with this approach: Reductions in deficits have implications for the private sector. Higher taxes draw cash from households and businesses, while lower government expenditures withhold money from the economy. Making matters worse, businesses are already plowing fewer profits back into their own enterprises.…  Seguir leyendo »

Leiser unhooked the aerial and wound it back on the reel, screwed the Morse key into the lid, replaced the earphones into the spares box and folded the silk cloth into the handle of the razor. Twenty years, he protested, holding up the razor, and they still haven’t found a better place. — John le Carré, “The Looking Glass War”

There is an old adage in the spy business that intelligence services are like the wiring in the walls. The house may be sold and the owners may move away, but the wiring is there in the walls waiting for a new owners to flip on the switch.…  Seguir leyendo »

El fútbol tiene tan mala fama como incuestionable éxito. La mala fama le viene de sus orígenes barriobajeros, que junto a su ascendencia humilde, le emparienta con la pasión y la bronca. A diferencia de otros deportes «aristocráticos», como el polo o la esgrima, el fútbol nace en la calle, y ni siquiera en las mejores de la ciudad, sino en las suburbanas sin asfaltar, en solares por construir y terrenos por labrar. Que se juegue con los pies le ha ganado el desdén de los intelectuales, que han hecho de él uno de los objetos favoritos de sus burlas, y le dio la puntilla la especie de que las dictaduras lo usan para hacer olvidar a las masas el hambre y la opresión.…  Seguir leyendo »

Lisant quotidiennement Le Monde, que je considère comme un journal de référence, quelle n’a pas été ma surprise de lire une tribune titrée J’accuse le régime chinois (Le Monde du 7 juin), signée par Guy Sorman, qui comportait une mise en cause extrêmement partiale et grossière de mon pays, avec des arguments infondés.

D’abord, je ne suis pas d’accord quand l’auteur affirme que «la Chine considère la croissance comme son destin». La croissance, tout comme la démocratie, est un moyen au service d’une fin qui consiste à développer le pays et à édifier une vie heureuse et digne pour son peuple.…  Seguir leyendo »