Junio de 2012

There Is No Alternative: This has been Angela Merkel’s mantra over the last two years; a phrase that the German chancellor frequently used to organize support within her government and in the German parliament for increasingly unpopular rescue measures helping euro countries hit by the crisis.

So far, it has worked out okay. But Angela Merkel will have to put her European policy to the German electorate in general elections next year. This should have been her biggest concern when she left Brussels for Berlin on Friday afternoon.

Part of the domestic deal so far has been the assurance that Germany is in charge of shaping the rules of the game; rules that would guarantee none of the countries receiving financial assistance happily went on spending and increasing their sovereign debt levels.…  Seguir leyendo »

When Paul Kagame led Rwandan rebel forces to victory in 1994, he was praised not only for halting a genocide that had killed half a million people, but also for advocating reconciliation rather than revenge. After he became president in 2000, he was acclaimed as a democratic visionary. Under his leadership, Rwanda is attracting investment, fighting corruption and improving health and education.

But a shadow hangs over Mr. Kagame’s Rwanda, in the form of persistent concern about intimidation of the political opposition. Outspoken journalists and politicians have disappeared or died in mysterious circumstances, while the government insists that some thoughts are too dangerous to permit, in the aftermath of genocide.…  Seguir leyendo »

Jubilant chants echoed far beyond Tahrir Square when the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate, Mohamed Morsi, was confirmed as Egypt’s first civilian president last week. Mr. Morsi’s election was lauded across the globe, and many are hailing today’s “transfer” of power as a triumph for democracy.

But there is little reason for celebration. In this latest grand spectacle manufactured by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, the generals symbolically respected the people’s choice while using the election to further entrench their unaccountable political autonomy.

In February 2011, most analysts assumed that Mr. Mubarak’s government had collapsed. They were wrong. The regime never changed.…  Seguir leyendo »

On Sunday, about 45 million Mexicans (roughly 60 percent of eligible voters in a population of 110 million) are expected to choose their next president. Most polls predict that the winner will be Enrique Peña Nieto, the young candidate of an old party, the PRI, that is often associated with the image of a dinosaur. Unless there is a major upset — which would probably be in favor of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the left candidate — many Mexicans will ponder two questions: Will we see the restoration of the old regime, which Mario Vargas Llosa once called “the perfect dictatorship”?…  Seguir leyendo »

As the date for the drawdown of NATO forces from Afghanistan approaches, an atmosphere of optimism is being created, mainly in the Western media, about the prospects of a reasonably successful transition to a stable and eventually prosperous Afghanistan.

Much is being read into the manner in which Afghan national security forces handled simultaneous Taliban attacks on several targets in Kabul in April. But those incidents, no doubt competently dealt with by the Afghan forces, should not lead to any definitive conclusions regarding their capability to face up to the insurgency after 2014.

The security forces should, and probably will, be better equipped and trained by then, but it would be prudent not to be overconfident about their ability.…  Seguir leyendo »

A group of influential countries from the U.N. Security Council and the Middle East will meet Saturday in Geneva to agree on an action plan for peace in Syria.

The situation could hardly be more grave. Since last spring, many thousands of Syrians have risen up to demand change. While at first they gathered peacefully, in the face of appalling government brutality some have resorted to arms. Others, especially members of minorities, have sat on the fence or supported the government, and they fear the alternative.

The resulting maelstrom has shocked the world. Battles have raged through city after city. Whole neighborhoods have been shelled into ruins.…  Seguir leyendo »

On Saturday, the “let’s make ourselves feel better” club will convene in Geneva to try to figure out what to do about Syria.

The motives of those gathering in Geneva at the invitation of U.N. Special Envoy Kofi Annan — the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council (United States, France, China, Britain and Russia), plus Turkey and a number of Arab league members including Iraq and Qatar — are well-intentioned. Their concern over the continued killing, more than 12,000 dead with thousands more wounded and imprisoned, is understandable.

But sadly, the results of the Geneva meeting, even with some added wind at its back (the Turks are madder than ever at Syria for downing a Turkish reconnaissance plane earlier this week), are not likely to produce much new.…  Seguir leyendo »

Australia is the world’s first Murdochracy. US citizen Rupert Murdoch controls 70% of the metropolitan press. He has monopolies in state capitals and provincial centres. The only national newspaper is his. He is a dominant force online and in pay TV and publishing. Known fearfully as “Rupert”, he is the chief mate.

But Murdoch’s dominance is not as it is often presented. Although he is now one of the west’s accredited demons, thanks to his phone hackers, he is but part of a media system that will not change when his empire is broken up. The political extremism that is the concentration of the world’s wealth in few hands and the accelerating impoverishment of the majority will ensure this.…  Seguir leyendo »

The election of a Muslim Brotherhood leader to the presidency of Egypt arrived in Israel like delayed thunder after a burst of lightning: It was not a surprise, but it still provoked nervous attention.

Mohammed Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president, comes from an organization that has a long history of opposition to peace with Israel and even to the very existence of the Jewish state. And yet, the situation may not turn into a disaster — at least not any time soon.

In the face of uncertainty, there is time for Israel to prepare for the worst. Israel must remain strong.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Arab world has recently gone through its most anxious period since the start of the Arab spring 19 months ago. People held their breath before their television screens, awaiting the outcome of the Egyptian presidential election. Only when the success of the Muslim Brotherhood and revolutionary forces candidate, Muhammad Morsi, over Hosni Mubarak’s prime minister, Ahmad Shafiq, was announced did people start to breathe freely again.

Throughout the night, there were celebrations not only in Egypt, but across the length and breadth of the Arab world. This was not simply because of Egypt’s centrality in the region, but also because Morsi’s long-awaited victory sent a clear message that the Arab spring was still alive, and that the attempts by the military and the forces of the former regime – “the deep state” – had failed yet again before the tenacity of the revolutionaries in Tahrir square.…  Seguir leyendo »

In June 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton gave a speech in Zambia warning of a “new colonialism” threatening the African continent. “We saw that during colonial times, it is easy to come in, take out natural resources, pay off leaders and leave,” she said, in a thinly veiled swipe at China.

In 2009, China became Africa’s single largest trading partner, surpassing the United States. And China’s foreign direct investment in Africa has skyrocketed from under $100 million in 2003 to more than $12 billion in 2011.

Since China began seriously investing in Africa in 2005, it has been routinely cast as a stealthy imperialist with a voracious appetite for commodities and no qualms about exploiting Africans to get them.…  Seguir leyendo »

En las últimas semanas la idea de establecer una unión bancaria europea se ha convertido en el remedio más reciente de que se tenga conocimiento como solución a la crisis del euro de larga duración. Sin embargo, cualesquiera que sean las cualidades de una unión bancaria –y tiene muchas– las propuestas para establecer una más generan más preguntas de las que actualmente se pueden responder.

Las motivaciones de los partidarios de una unión bancaria difieren marcadamente. Para algunos, en particular en Europa del Sur, dicha unión se ve como la forma de desviar la carga de soportar sus bancos indigentes a aquellos que tienen más dinero.…  Seguir leyendo »

Pocas elecciones recientes han concitado la atención mundial como las celebradas el 17 de junio en Grecia. Ahora, que el partido de centro derecha Nueva Democracia, que obtuvo el mayor número de votos, ha formado un gobierno de coalición con el de centro izquierda PASOK y el de Izquierda Democrática, la cuestión decisiva para el gobierno del Primer Ministro Antonio Samaras es si puede aplicar las medidas de austeridad acordadas con los socios de Grecia en la zona del euro a cambio de un apoyo continuo del Fondo Monetario Internacional y la Unión Europea.

La situación sigue siendo peligrosa… y no sólo para Grecia.…  Seguir leyendo »

Por enésima vez hay Cumbre Europea. Por enésima vez hay una esperanza taumatúrgica en sus resultados. Por enésima vez es posible que pueda decepcionar o ser el inicio de un verdadero camino de recuperación política y económica en la UE ¿Por qué puede decepcionar y en qué consistiría la esperanza? Puede decepcionar porque en la UE hay grandes dificultades a la hora de tomar decisiones importantes. Puede dar esperanza porque la necesidad hace virtud y la crisis empuja a tomar decisiones.

La Unión está compuesta por 27 estados con circunstancias muy distintas. En el campo económico y en el político. Hay democracias consolidadas y democracias en consolidación.…  Seguir leyendo »

Muchos tejanos se resisten a financiar más Seguridad Social para los californianos. No me asombra, pues creo que la mayor parte de los españoles no está dispuesta a pagar la Seguridad Social de los finlandeses, estoy seguro de que Finlandia rechaza pagar la española y cierto de que la mayoría de los votantes catalanes ansía pagar menos impuestos en favor de otros españoles. Así somos casi todos, aunque casi nunca queramos reconocerlo. Y aunque los ciudadanos americanos están más unidos de lo que lo estamos nosotros, europeos y españoles, probablemente su Tribunal Supremo federal echará por tierra, a finales de este mes de junio, la reforma de la Seguridad Social estadounidense, el mayor logro interno de Barack Obama.…  Seguir leyendo »

La Unión Europea solo saldrá de la espiral de crisis en la que está sumida tomando importantes decisiones políticas. Entre estas hay algunas que afectan directamente al destino común que une a los ciudadanos europeos. Europa solo saldrá victoriosa de la crisis mediante el fortalecimiento de la cohesión y la solidaridad.

Esta es la tarea a la que se está dedicando la Confederación Europea de Sindicatos (CES). Reunidos los días 5 y 6 de junio pasados, los líderes sindicales europeos votaron por unanimidad a favor de un nuevo contrato social para Europa. Dicho contrato, que deberá ser debatido a todos los niveles, debe basarse en tres pilares: la democracia social —incluyendo especialmente el respeto a la negociación colectiva—, la gobernanza económica al servicio de un crecimiento sostenible y empleos de calidad, y por último, la justicia económica y social (a través de las políticas de redistribución y protección social).…  Seguir leyendo »

Quizá fuese inevitable en un drama tan complejo y manchado de sangre, pero lo evidente es que en este previsiblemente largo desenlace del terrorismo etarra se están mezclando hasta la asfixia las cuestiones psicológicas o morales con las legales y las políticas. No siempre esa confusión es inocente: se hacen malabarismos con los buenos sentimientos para ocultar la dejación de los principios y se culpabiliza a las personas para disculpar de antemano los apaños partidistas. Los que tanto se quejaron ayer si se les llamaba traidores ahora han decretado que no hay más traidores que los que aún se quejan.

¿Encuentros espontáneos o institucionalmente alentados entre víctimas y criminales, o entre las víctimas de diversos tipos de criminalidad?…  Seguir leyendo »

Por si alguien aún lo ignora o lo ha olvidado: Sheldon Adelson es un riquísimo magnate norteamericano cuya inmensa fortuna viene de la explotación de casinos de juego, hoteles y lugares de lo que púdicamente se llama a veces “vida nocturna”, una denominación no del todo exacta porque muchos prostíbulos abren también de día. Es, en definitiva, un empresario destacado, tal vez el mayor del mundo, de lo que en tiempos más serios, o puritanos, o mojigatos, o hipócritas (ponga el lector el adjetivo que mejor le cuadre) se llamaba en España la industria del vicio.

En la correspondiente entrada de la web puede encontrar el lector información sobre sus actividades filantrópicas, los pleitos en los que se ha visto enzarzado y sus iniciativas políticas.…  Seguir leyendo »

The downing of a Turkish jet over the Mediterranean last Friday by a Syrian missile took Turkish-Syrian tensions to a new level. Though the Turkish government did not declare war as some expected, and others feared, it did declare Syria a “clear and present danger” and raised its rules of engagement to an alert level.

How we came to this point is an interesting story. The 550-mile long border with Syria, Turkey’s longest, has often been tense. During the Cold War, Syria was a Soviet ally, Turkey was a NATO member (as it still is) and the border was heavily mined.…  Seguir leyendo »

La elección en Egipto de Mohamed Morsi como primer presidente islamista democráticamente elegido en el mundo árabe representa un logro histórico para los Hermanos Musulmanes, el movimiento religioso más influyente del mundo árabe. Tras décadas de persecución y cárcel, este hecho inédito muestra claramente la influencia de los Hermanos Musulmanes –la mayoría de los cuales suscriben tesis de carácter centrista y progresista y aceptan los valores democráticos– en la tarea de configurar el futuro político de su sociedad.

Pese a la significación histórica de la elección de Mohamed Morsi como presidente de Egipto, será un presidente transitorio; no será comandante en jefe y tendrá funciones limitadas.…  Seguir leyendo »