Mayo de 2012

When a slow-motion massacre has unfolded over the course of 15 months, it’s easy to lose the world’s attention. But even the most jaded gasped in horror as news emerged of the latest carnage inflicted on the Syrian people. The images from the town of Houla defied belief.

Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad went on a systematic killing spree, murdering at least 108 people. Most shockingly, the killers targeted women and children. A U.N. representative said the victims included 49 children who were younger than 10. The al-Assad regime denied it carried out the atrocities, but U.N. officials said they saw clear evidence that the Syrian government was involved in the attacks.…  Seguir leyendo »

In village after village in the Jabal al-Zawiya region of Syria, northwest of the central city of Hama, the scene was the same: burned-down houses and grieving families who described atrocities by Syrian soldiers — relatives of all ages dragged away and shot, their bodies often set on fire, making them literally part of the military’s “scorched earth” policy.

I spoke to people who are terrified of leaving their homes.

Syrian army positions dot the hills around villages in this region, and the main roads are accessible only through army checkpoints. Even in areas ostensibly under the control of the armed opposition, residents are frightened.…  Seguir leyendo »

With no prospect of meaningful negotiations between the Palestinians and the Netanyahu government, a new approach to peace is needed, one that focuses on the Israeli and Palestinian people themselves. Though not a perfect analogy, let’s call it UNSCOP-2 because the work of UNSCOP, the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine, in 1947, is the closest precedent for what is needed today.

UNSCOP was charged with coming up with a solution to the Palestine question, and after visiting the region to hold hearings, and then traveling to Europe to interview Holocaust survivors, the committee called for two states, one Arab and one Jewish.…  Seguir leyendo »

Syrians have been killed almost since Hafez al-Assad took power in the 1970s. Now that the bloodshed has escalated under his son Bashar, history repeats itself, and no one seems to care.

In March, the international community put its faith in the peace plan that Kofi Annan, the former United Nations secretary general, struck with Mr. Assad. However, his brutal crackdown on the Syrian people — which has killed thousands and displaced hundreds of thousands — continues. Gruesome atrocities happen as soon as United Nations inspectors turn their backs. Civilians are targeted for having dared to speak up to the inspectors or are killed indiscriminately for protesting.…  Seguir leyendo »

As demand starts to build for President Obama to “do something” about the situation in Syria, let’s review where the United States and its citizens stand on the general question of using military force abroad.

On this issue, Americans are divided in strange ways. There are liberal hawks and conservative doves, and vice versa.

Liberal doves oppose almost any use of U.S. power because their mind-set hardened during Vietnam: War kills children and other living things; we can’t be the world’s policeman; and so on. This sounds dismissive, but it’s not meant to be. In fact, it’s more or less where I come out.…  Seguir leyendo »

La actual crisis económica mundial no solo ha llevado a que en muchos países los partidos gobernantes pierdan las elecciones: también está causando un terremoto en las juntas directivas de las empresas. En otros tiempos, cuando las cotizaciones bursátiles y los beneficios empresariales parecían desafiar la ley de la gravedad, las asambleas de accionistas se parecían a las convenciones políticas estadounidenses: más que foros donde discutir asuntos contenciosos, parecían espectáculos montados para promover la imagen de las empresas. Pero la ronda anual de asambleas generales de este año fue diferente. Los inversores, decepcionados por los bajos rendimientos, están mucho más belicosos que antes.…  Seguir leyendo »

A lo largo y ancho de la Unión Europea y el resto del mundo, muchos gobiernos parecen enfrentarse a un dilema insoluble: las deudas nacionales contraídas se han convertido en una pesada carga que los obliga a recortar gastos y aumentar los impuestos en un intento de reducir el déficit. Pero estas medidas desalientan el consumo, que es necesario para impulsar la actividad económica y el crecimiento. Conforme de la austeridad se pasa a discutir la implementación de medidas que estimulen el crecimiento, la búsqueda del equilibrio justo exige pensar en un modelo impositivo más inteligente.

Cuando los gobiernos se enfrentan a la difícil tarea de cobrar impuestos, suelen pensar en el impuesto sobre la renta, el impuesto de sociedades y el impuesto al valor agregado (IVA).…  Seguir leyendo »

Some of us still have to work for our living, so with all due respect to writing this column, in my other hat I’m the Director General of Mishkenot Sha’ananim, the lovely guest house and conference center in Jerusalem, established by the great Jewish British philanthropist Sir Moses Montefiore, more than 150 years ago.

Two weeks ago we ran our biannual International Writers Festival, with some 15 guest writers from all over the world dialoguing with the greatest Israeli authors: Amos Oz, David Grossman, Meir Shalev and others, to the delight of the local book enthusiasts. The mutual respect — at times even admiration — between writers, surpassed borders and politics.…  Seguir leyendo »

On the surface, the first round of the Egyptian presidential election seemed to show that the Muslim Brotherhood and the remnants of the Mubarak regime are locked in mortal combat for the political soul of Egypt — as Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi faces pro-military candidate Ahmed Shafik in a second round of voting in June.

Buying into this simplistic formula, however, would be a total misreading of the far more complex picture. To understand the political reality of Egypt and the strengths and weaknesses of the major political forces operating in the country, one needs to look more closely at all of the electoral results.…  Seguir leyendo »

Tema: La expropiación de la mayor parte de las acciones de YPF propiedad de Repsol, seguida por un acontecimiento relativamente similar en Bolivia, plantearon una gran cantidad de problemas a la diplomacia española.

Resumen: La expropiación del 51% de las acciones de YPF en manos de Repsol, seguida por la nacionalización de la empresa boliviana Transportadora de Electricidad (TDE), en un hecho con bastantes similitudes pero mayores diferencias, suscitaron una gran cantidad de problemas a la diplomacia española. Las situaciones planteadas permiten extraer algunas conclusiones útiles de cara al futuro. Una primera cuestión, objeto de profunda discusión, fue el de si una empresa multinacional como Repsol es española y debe ser defendida por el gobierno de España.…  Seguir leyendo »

Asistimos a purgas de líderes de alto nivel y funcionarios provinciales jubilados que llaman en público al retiro de miembros del Politburó: es evidente que China se encuentra en una encrucijada. Su futuro ya no parece estar determinado solamente por el gran éxito de su economía, que ha convertido al país en una potencia mundial en el transcurso de apenas una generación. En lugar de ello, lo que hoy parece marcar su destino son las oscuras maquinaciones del cada vez más fracturado panorama político del país.

Basta con ser testigos de la actual lucha de poder en el período previo a los cambios de dirigentes previstos para este otoño, o de las cifras oficiales que muestran que las protestas rurales se han incrementado al mismo ritmo que el PIB.…  Seguir leyendo »

Los responsables de las políticas europeas parecen estar sorprendidos por la actual corrida bancaria en Grecia (y la incipiente en España). No deberían. Quien está familiarizado con los colapsos en los mercados emergentes sabe que a una crisis fiscal casi siempre la sucede una crisis financiera.

La cesación de pagos de Argentina en 2001 es un ejemplo útil. En la crisis argentina, la economía se contrajo el 18% y el desempleo se disparó hasta alcanzar al 22% de la población económicamente activa. Grecia ya se encuentra cerca de esos niveles.

Argentina sufrió un completo y caótico incumplimiento de pagos de su deuda pública.…  Seguir leyendo »

I have known Chen Guangcheng for almost a decade. We met as participants in the State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program in 2003. It brought us both to the United States but also brought us together in our common interests and mission for China.

After our return to China, I put Chen in touch with a number of lawyers and intellectuals involved in human rights work and introduced him to veteran activist Liu Xiaobo. Back then, the three of us still enjoyed a certain degree of freedom. We were able to sit down together, as we did one morning in a bookstore near Beijing University, talking and exchanging ideas for hours.…  Seguir leyendo »

Los críticos de la ayuda extranjera se equivocan. Una creciente oleada de datos demuestra que las tasas de mortalidad en muchos países pobres están cayendo marcadamente, y que los programas respaldados por la ayuda extranjera destinados a ofrecer atención sanitaria desempeñaron un papel importante. La ayuda funciona; salva vidas.

Uno de los estudios más recientes, a cargo de Gabriel Demombynes y Sofia Trommlerova, demuestra que la mortalidad infantil de Kenia (muertes antes de cumplirse un año de vida) decayó en los últimos años, y lo atribuye, en gran medida, al uso masivo de mosquiteros para cama destinados a combatir la malaria.…  Seguir leyendo »

Since I arrived in the United States on May 19, people have asked me, “What do you want to do here?” I have come here to study temporarily, not to seek political asylum. And while I pursue my studies, I hope that the Chinese government and the Communist Party will conduct a thorough investigation of the lawless punishment inflicted on me and my family over the past seven years.

I asked for such an investigation while I was hospitalized in Beijing, after I had left the refuge of the United States Embassy and American officials negotiated my reunification with my family.…  Seguir leyendo »

International criminal justice grinds slowly, but it can grind exceedingly small. Charles Taylor was first indicted in 2003 for crimes against humanity, in a UN court over which I presided. Then, he strutted the world stage as a head of state. Ghana refused our request to arrest him when he visited, and Nigeria gave him refuge for several years. There was a general expectation that he would escape trial, but the whirligig of time brings its changes and revenges: Taylor was sentenced to 50 years imprisonment, for aiding and abetting 11 kinds of war crimes and crimes against humanity – ranging from terrorism, rape and murder of civilians, to recruiting child soldiers and child sex slaves.…  Seguir leyendo »

El nuevo mandato presidencial de Vladimir Putin acaba de empezar; sin embargo, cada vez se vislumbra con mayor claridad que probablemente este sea el principio del fin. Ya que las cosas nunca salen bien para las autoridades cuando la población de Rusia se vierte a las calles en masa, de la manera en la que actualmente lo hace.

El año 1917 el emperador ruso Nicolás II tuvo que abdicar debido a protestas callejeras masivas, abdicación que a su vez allanó el camino para la Revolución Bolchevique. En el año 1991, la Unión Soviética, que en aquel entonces aparentaba ser una unidad monolítica irrompible, colapsó en apenas unos pocos meses.…  Seguir leyendo »

A report recommending deep U.S. nuclear reductions – to levels as low as 10 percent of the current arsenal – was released recently by an apparently self-appointed Global Zero Nuclear Policy Commission. This report was led by James Cartwright, a retired Marine general and former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Other contributors include folks closely associated with the “nuclear zero” campaign that President Obama embraced early in his administration. The White House has since elevated the campaign for nuclear zero to the pinnacle of the U.S. nuclear-policy agenda, and a supportive report led by a former top-ranking military officer is sure to gain considerable visibility.…  Seguir leyendo »

La Ronda de Doha, la última fase de las negociaciones comerciales multilaterales, fracasó en noviembre de 2011, después de diez años de conversaciones, pese a las gestiones oficiales de muchos países, incluidos el Reino Unido y Alemania, y de casi todos los eminentes estudiosos actuales del comercio. Aunque los funcionarios del comercio de los Estados Unidos y de la Unión Europea culparon a las exigencias excesivas de los países en desarrollo del G-22 del fracaso de las anteriores negociaciones celebradas en Cancún en 2003, existe coincidencia general en que esta vez han sido los EE.UU., cuyas injustificadas (e inflexibles) exigencias dieron la puntilla a las conversaciones.…  Seguir leyendo »

I was not allowed to sit in the foreigner’s section, given that I didn’t look foreign, and I didn’t want to tell them that I was. This was ironic, given that — as a Pakistani sitting on the Indian side of the border — they would consider me to be even more foreign than most foreigners.

The two people I was traveling with were allowed, and found themselves the choicest seats from which to see the spectacle. I had to sit way in the back, where the crowd was aggressive and male, and the soldiers were far-off and blurry.

The spectacle that my friends and I had come to see was the border ceremony at Wagah that takes place between Pakistan and India every day at sundown.…  Seguir leyendo »