Abril de 2012

Ideas have consequences, as Richard Weaver famously wrote. If one misconstrues the ideas of the Islamists who are coming to power in the Middle East, one inevitably will misjudge the consequences. Take Reuel Marc Gerecht’s recent article in the Wall Street Journal, “The Islamist Road to Democracy.” In it, Mr. Gerecht, a former CIA hand now at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, says the Islamists are winning but we shouldn’t worry. The West went through worse and came out democratic. In fact, he says, the Middle East has suffered from Western communist and socialist ideologies, which left Islam as the last refuge.…  Seguir leyendo »

When Elie Wiesel speaks, people listen. He speaks softly and chooses his words carefully. In 1986, when this survivor of Hitler’s death camp at Buchenwald was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, he was cited as a “messenger to mankind” whose message has always been one of peace and human dignity.

That’s why when he spoke at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum last month with President Obama present, his words were particularly pertinent. Speaking of the Holocaust and relating it to the world’s failure to stop Syrian dictator Bashar Assad and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Mr. Wiesel said:

“It could have been prevented.…  Seguir leyendo »

I have a suggestion for Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao: Invite Chen Guangcheng to voice his concerns about your government and its treatment of him.

The blind Chinese civil rights attorney turned activist endured a year and a half of “soft detention” — constant surveillance under floodlights; a variety of threats; beatings, among them attacks on his wife — before escaping from his house in Dongshigu last weekend.

Chen’s escape was heroically assisted by our fellow activists He “Pearl” Peirong and Guo Yushan. Chen feigned inactivity by lying in bed for long periods. After evading the local goon squad surrounding his home, Chen was able to find He and Guo at a nearby meeting place and was driven to a safe house in Beijing.…  Seguir leyendo »

Once again European efforts to contain crisis have fallen short. It was perhaps reasonable to hope that the European Central Bank’s commitment to provide nearly a trillion dollars in cheap three-year funding to banks, would, if not resolve the crisis, contain it for a significant interval. Unfortunately, this has proved little more than a palliative. Weak banks, especially in Spain, have bought more of the debt of their weak sovereigns, while foreigners have sold down their holdings. Markets, seeing banks holding the dubious debt of the sovereigns that stand behind them, grow ever nervous. Again, Europe and the global economy approach the brink.…  Seguir leyendo »

In Yemen, Pakistan and elsewhere the C.I.A. has used drones to kill thousands of people — including several Americans. Officials have aggressively defended the controversial program, telling journalists that it is effective, lawful and closely supervised.

But in court, the Central Intelligence Agency refuses even to acknowledge that the targeted killing program exists. The agency’s argument is based on a 35-year-old judicial doctrine called Glomar, which allows government agencies to respond to requests under the Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, by refusing to confirm or deny the existence of the records that have been requested.

The doctrine sometimes serves a legitimate purpose, but the C.I.A.…  Seguir leyendo »

El único aspecto positivo de la profunda crisis que atravesamos quizá sea disponer de la siempre interesante oportunidad de presenciar, en primera fila y a tiempo acelerado, el derrumbe de un sistema político, aunque eso sí, con el grave inconveniente de no saber cuánto va a durar todavía, qué va a sustituirlo y, especialmente, cómo va a hacerlo.

No es que los muchos defectos del modelo estuviesen precisamente ocultos en tiempos de bonanza, pues eran evidentes para cualquiera que se molestase en tener los ojos abiertos, pero sin duda la prosperidad general permitió asumirlos como disfunciones inevitables, ni siquiera exclusivas de nuestro país y, a la postre, fácilmente negociables.…  Seguir leyendo »

El nacionalismo ha sido el virus que ha destruido a Europa durante la primera mitad del siglo XX. La construcción de un espacio público compartido, profundizando las competencias comunes y ampliando a un mayor número de países, ha servido a Europa para superar esa patología que la llevó al enfrentamiento durante un siglo. Del impulso por superarla nació el ethos de la paz, la libertad y la cooperación solidaria entre adversarios históricos, para desarrollar lo que hoy llamamos Unión Europea. Lula la considera un “patrimonio democrático de la Humanidad que no tenemos derecho a destruir”.

Pues bien, de nuevo galopa esa bestia del nacionalismo insolidario, a lomos de esta crisis global a la que se está respondiendo con un diagnóstico y una terapia equivocados, que cada día nos acercan más a la zona de riesgo para la estabilidad y la supervivencia de la Unión.…  Seguir leyendo »

Mi receta para que España salga de la crisis es muy sencilla: debemos adoptar políticas de liberalización de nuestra economía más a la derecha que las medidas del gobierno Rajoy y políticas de bienestar social más a la izquierda que las propuestas de Rubalcaba. Puedes pensar que soy políticamente incoherente (o políticamente bisexual), pues la liberalización económica va de la mano del desmantelamiento del estado de bienestar y la regularización de los mercados va de la mano de un gobierno más protector. Así nos lo han dicho siempre. Palabra de todos los políticos.

Y así es cómo, de hecho, se está desarrollando el debate político durante esta crisis económica.…  Seguir leyendo »

Estos días los economistas parece que no gozamos de gran simpatía entre la población. En especial, los que trabajamos en el ámbito de la salud y los servicios sanitarios ante las medidas de inminentes recortes o ajustes, según a quién se pregunte, en el ámbito público. Posiblemente no estemos exentos de culpa si se nos identifica con agoreros preocupados esencialmente en decir “qué no se puede hacer” o “hasta dónde podemos llegar”. Sin embargo, los profesionales con interés en la economía y gestión de la salud, que desempeñan sus tareas tanto en la academia como en organismos internacionales, servicios centrales de consejerías de salud, centros asistenciales públicos, fundaciones y empresas privadas, no nos vemos necesariamente reflejados en dicho perfil.…  Seguir leyendo »

EL Gobierno presentó el 23 de marzo el anteproyecto de Ley de Transparencia. Ha tenido que darse la tormenta perfecta (crisis política, institucional, financiera, escándalos de corrupción, activismo de grupos sociales, periodistas, académicos, ONG…) para que los partidos políticos hayan incorporado la transparencia a su agenda de forma decidida. Parece llegada la hora de la verdad en materia de transparencia.

El Gobierno ha tenido la feliz iniciativa de someterlo a consulta pública (www.leydetransparencia.gob.es). En ese mismo espíritu de análisis y propuesta, haré un balance basado en la comparación de experiencias mundiales (es la ventaja de llegar de los últimos). Estamos en un momento en que el esfuerzo de todos puede llevarnos a crear el marco jurídico idóneo.…  Seguir leyendo »

Gran Bretaña acabó siendo un Estado democrático tras un proceso lento que duró más de dos siglos. Francia, hasta la Revolución Francesa de 1789, era una monarquía absolutista. Y después de dicha revolución, pasaron décadas de duras revueltas hasta que Francia adoptase un régimen democrático. En el caso de Alemania, fue en el siglo XX cuando, por primera vez y por un breve periodo de tiempo, probó la democracia antes de caer en la dictadura más cruel de la historia. Sólo tras su aplastante derrota en la Segunda Guerra Mundial, Alemania empezó a interiorizar los valores democráticos. Lo mismo cabe decir de países como Japón o de otros muchos estados que solamente en el siglo XX comenzaron a adoptar regímenes democráticos.…  Seguir leyendo »

Le 21 mars dernier, la Namibie a fêté le 22e anniversaire de son indépendance à laquelle avaient participé 600 Bérets bleus médicaux suisses. La presse, libre, n’a pas manqué de faire un bilan critique, parfois virulent, de son pays qui semble saisi par un vent de folie commerciale et minière (uranium), nocif pour le pays. La Namibie a-t-elle vraiment bien utilisé les chances qu’elle avait dans le berceau de son indépendance?

Climat agréable, ressources naturelles abondantes (poissons, viande, diamants, uranium, cuivre, etc.), réseau routier excellent, administrations civile et juridique bien en place, tourisme de qualité, peu de dettes, 2 millions d’habitants seulement pour un territoire de 825 000 km2.…  Seguir leyendo »

“Los que están en contra del estado de bienestar nunca desaprovechan una buena crisis”. Naomi Klein. The shock doctrine: the rise of disaster capitalism. 2008.

La semana pasada el Gobierno hizo pública la norma que regula las medidas destinadas a garantizar la sostenibilidad del Sistema Nacional de Salud (Real Decreto-Ley 16/2012). Al margen de sus implicaciones en cuanto a recortes y limitación de derechos, esta introduce un cambio sustancial en los fundamentos de nuestro sistema sanitario: la sustitución del “ciudadano” por “el asegurado” (en genérico), en cuanto a sujeto con derecho a la asistencia sanitaria. ¿Era necesario semejante cambio para ejecutar las medidas de ahorro?…  Seguir leyendo »

The only thing worse than a terrible movie is a terrible movie that we have already seen. By nationalizing oil giant YPF, Argentina has treated us to a tale of economic nationalism of a kind that the world knows all too well. We have seen this show before, and it ends badly.

Start with the predictably overwrought reaction of businessmen and conservative politicians. After this expropriation, they insist, no one will ever again invest in Argentina.

That is false, just as previous claims that no one would lend to Argentina after its umpteenth debt default turned out to be false. As P.T.…  Seguir leyendo »

The blind lawyer Chen Guangcheng climbed over the back wall of his home April 22 — and escaped nearly six years of torture, malnutrition and isolation. During his detention, Chen became a global star, his dark glasses emblematic of the embattled movement of human rights defenders in China. Chen is my hero and friend. He is under the protection of the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. His status and safety present a pivotal test for freedom in China and for U.S. credibility as a defender of freedom.

Chen’s escape was planned carefully for many months. The actor Christian Bale was the most prominent person who tried to visit Chen during his years of house detention, but hundreds of Chinese citizens sought a similar audience and were forcibly turned away by police.…  Seguir leyendo »

Almost hidden from outsiders, the US is engaged in a new war in the Middle East which is growing in intensity and running out of American control. Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has hugely extended its reach across southern Yemen in recent months after driving government forces out of several towns. “For the first time in history al-Qaida controls territory,” an Arab diplomat in Sana’a, Yemen’s capital, told me. “A year ago they were numbered in the dozens, armed with light weapons and scattered here and there. Now they are in their thousands with tanks and heavy weapons.”

The movement’s new armaments come from over-running government troops and bases.…  Seguir leyendo »

A bit like Jesus on the Via Dolorosa, Barcelona’s great manager Pep Guardiola has faltered under his heavy burden. “I’m drained,” he said at his emotional valedictory press conference on Friday as star players like Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta looked on helplessly with tears in their eyes.

Guardiola has been good news throughout his career. A passionate, intelligent Catalan, he learned the game from its Dutch source and took tiki-taka – or “total football” – to new levels of perfection. The numinous football Barça played in his time was inspirational, and his sudden loss to football – after successive defeats to Chelsea in the Champions League and bitter rivals Real Madrid in the Spanish league – is a cause for grief.…  Seguir leyendo »

Time for a quiz question. Last week, who said Binyamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak – Israel’s prime minister and defence minister – “are misleading the public on the Iran issue” and making decisions “based on messianic feelings”? Was it (a) Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; (b) the Stop the War Coalition president, Tony Benn; or (c) the former Israeli spymaster Yuval Diskin?

It was (c). At a public meeting on Friday Diskin, former head of Shin Bet (Israel’s MI5), described Netanyahu and Barak as “not fit to hold the steering wheel of power“. He went on: “I have observed them from up close … They are not people who I, on a personal level, trust to lead Israel to an event on that scale and carry it off … They tell the public that if Israel acts, Iran won’t have a nuclear bomb.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Philippines is haunted by its relationship with the United States. I remember the day, in 1991, when the Military Bases Agreement between the two countries was rescinded. The headlines yelled, finally: Freedom! But worrywarts held on to their beads. Clark Air Force Base and Subic Naval Base were America’s largest overseas outposts — powerful vestiges of colonial rule decades after the American occupation, which lasted from 1899 to 1946, had ended. In American history books those decades have fallen into an Orwellian memory hole: lost or abridged.

On the Philippine side, however, the relationship with America looms like Donald Barthelme’s balloon, a deep metaphysical discomfort arising from an inexplicable physical presence.…  Seguir leyendo »

The United States has been narrowly saved from lethal terrorist plots in recent years — or so it has seemed. A would-be suicide bomber was intercepted on his way to the Capitol; a scheme to bomb synagogues and shoot Stinger missiles at military aircraft was developed by men in Newburgh, N.Y.; and a fanciful idea to fly explosive-laden model planes into the Pentagon and the Capitol was hatched in Massachusetts.

But all these dramas were facilitated by the F.B.I., whose undercover agents and informers posed as terrorists offering a dummy missile, fake C-4 explosives, a disarmed suicide vest and rudimentary training.…  Seguir leyendo »