Viernes, 12 de octubre de 2012

So many tyrants to resist, so many heroes to support, but the Nobel Committee decided to ignore all of that and grant the Nobel Peace Prize this year to a large bureaucratic political alliance, the European Union. The committee passed up a chance to give a tangible boost to and put the valuable global spotlight on an individual, a cause or an organization that could really benefit from the award. What a sadly missed opportunity.

Malala Yousafzai, the 14-year-old Pakistani girl shot by the Taliban for advocating girls’ right to an education, is precisely the kind of person who should have inspired those making the selection.…  Seguir leyendo »

Este 12 de octubre se cumple el centenario del nacimiento de Dionisio Ridruejo (1912-1975). Su vida dibuja una paradójica curva histórica desde los espasmos totalitarios de la Guerra Civil al remanso socialdemócrata de la oposición a Franco. Dos fechas lo ilustran. La primera, noviembre de 1939, cuando, inclinado ante la tumba de José Antonio Primo de Rivera, el poeta conjura una «maldición de siglos» para quien traicione la memoria de esa «fresca esperanza». La segunda, en junio de 1962, le sitúa dentro del antifranquismo del Contubernio de Múnich.

Las biografías, estudios y antologías recientes -en especial, los trabajos de Gracia y Amat- han devuelto a la actualidad su figura.…  Seguir leyendo »

El debate sobre quién tiene la responsabilidad ante la situación económica que vive nuestro país ha tomado un giro interesante desde este último verano. Hemos pasado de echarle la culpa de todos nuestros males a los mercados financieros y a la globalización a, por fin, empezar a buscar responsabilidades en lugares más concretos. El último sitio en el que las estamos buscando es en el ámbito político. Las posturas (introducidas por títulos al menos tan apocalípticos como el de este artículo) oscilan entre aquellas que acusan a los políticos de ser responsables de todos los males acaecidos en el mundo y algunos más por venir, a aquellas que les redimen con la excusa de que otros países con sistemas políticos supuestamente más perfectos que el nuestro también están sufriendo las consecuencias de la crisis.…  Seguir leyendo »

La difusión de ofensas a Mahoma y la reacción posterior en la mayoría de los países musulmanes han desatado un debate muy conveniente sobre el uso de la libertad de expresión y sus límites. Varios medios de comunicación occidentales han destacado la necesidad de defender ese pilar de nuestra democracia, sin concesiones oportunistas, y algunos han elogiado la supuesta valentía de las publicaciones que, después de las protestas y la violencia, insistieron en la mofa del principal profeta del islam. El presidente Barack Obama hizo una brillante labor didáctica en la ONU para explicar a los nuevos Gobiernos libremente elegidos en el mundo árabe los enormes, aunque a veces dolorosos, beneficios del respeto a la libertad de expresión.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ha llovido mucho desde que en 1978 los partidos catalanes mayoritarios dieron su apoyo a una Constitución aparentemente abierta y dinámica, hábil para encajar las aspiraciones de autogobierno. No obstante, el tortuoso desarrollo del Estatuto de 1979 demostró la rigidez de costuras y la ausencia de empatía de los sucesivos gobiernos, especialmente cuando gozaban de asfixiantes mayorías absolutas. Tras la sentencia del TC sobre el Estatuto de 2006 y las persistentes dificultades para encontrar un mejor acomodo financiero, el catalanismo político, que había perseverado secularmente en su divisa de “reformar” España con las reglas del juego del Estado, hoy se siente fatigada.…  Seguir leyendo »

Malala Yousafzai, a 14-year-old campaigner for human rights, was shot in the head by Taliban militants on Tuesday while she was returning home from school in a van in the Swat area of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province.

Today, the entire nation is in shock. Everyone is condemning the Taliban and praying for Malala. She has become a role model for her country’s young generation. She has won.

Malala is the victim of Talibanization, the radical mind-set spawned from a theocratic and obscurantist interpretation of Islam. Talibanization is about forcefully imposing a theocratic agenda on the people. It is about radicalizing them. It is about creating more and more suicide-bomb squads in the name of jihad against liberals and moderates, Muslims and non-Muslims.…  Seguir leyendo »

Wardak Province, Afghanistan

“If you leave here like you left Iraq, I am a dead man,” says the blunt-speaking district governor. His district chief of police, a newly appointed civil judge and the chief of the Afghan Local Police detachment all nod their heads in assent. None of them is smiling.

We are reminded by the commander of the Special Operations unit with whom we are living not to broadcast names or faces of Afghan security force personnel. The local district governor is speaking through an interpreter. He doesn’t pull any punches: “You must not abandon us again. You helped us expel the Soviets — then left us to the Taliban and al Qaeda.…  Seguir leyendo »

Venezuela’s democratic opposition leaders are disappointed by their unsuccessful campaign to unseat caudillo Hugo Chavez in elections on Oct. 7. It may be too soon to give up hope. Mr. Chavez is losing his battle with cancer, his regime is being undermined by infighting and criminality, and he must deal with a series of elections that will take place throughout the country in the coming year.

Mr. Chavez is sick, and his campaign schedule took a strong physical toll on him. For more than six months, reliable sources have explained to me that Mr. Chavez’s medical team is merely treating symptoms of his aggressive cancer to maintain a public facade.…  Seguir leyendo »

U.S.-taxpayer-funded Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty (RFE-RL) in Moscow have provided a voice of freedom to Russian listeners for years. When the station first opened its mics to Russian opposition leaders, many supposed they would be silenced sooner or later by a government not usually tolerant of independent media. Instead, trouble came from a surprising quarter: Washington, or the RFE-RL headquarters in Prague, where American officials decided to fire practically all the journalists of Radio Liberty’s (Radio Svoboda) Moscow bureau and cancel their human rights programs.

I first came to Svoboda’s offices in 2010 as an 18-year-old journalism intern. RFE-RL trains young people with a passion for free expression not found anywhere else in Russia.…  Seguir leyendo »

Turkey was the first country to take direct military action against the government of Bashar al-Assad since Syria’s uprising began in the spring of 2011. And tensions are escalating further: earlier this week, the Turkish government sent 25 F-16 fighters to an air base near the border with Syria and on Wednesday it forced a Syrian passenger plane to land in the Turkish capital, Ankara, where suspected military aid shipments were taken off the plane.

The shelling along the Turkish-Syrian border is a critical development. The Assad regime is already busy fighting the Free Syrian Army near the Turkish border, where it has been bombing towns and villages.…  Seguir leyendo »

Iran is undergoing one of its most momentous changes since the 1979 revolution as the aging Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, strives to ensure that the Islamic republic’s revolutionary precepts will survive him. China presents a cautionary tale for the ayatollah; it proves that it is possible for an authoritarian political system to survive long after its ideological claims have faded from the scene.

China’s leaders, beginning in the late 1970s, were able to transform themselves from devout Marxists into advocates of capitalist prosperity while still claiming they had the people’s best interests at heart. They maintained their power while shedding communism (in all but name) by offering material well-being in exchange for freedom.…  Seguir leyendo »

By now, “Gangnam Style” has become part of the pop culture lexicon. The infectious song by South Korean singer Psy broke the Guinness world record for “most likes” on YouTube. The video has been watched nearly 425 million times and has inspired flash mobs and parodies by lifeguards, Ivy leaguers and hot moms.

If you haven’t heard of “Gangnam Style,” you’ve probably spent the last month orbiting in outer space.

Or perhaps you live above the 38th parallel, in North Korea.

North Korea is as isolated and backward as South Korea is wired and technologically advanced. And while some ruling elites in Pyongyang are certainly aware of “Gangnam Style” — we know this because of a parody video posted on the North’s official website featuring an image of South Korean presidential candidate Park Geun-hye doing Psy’s signature horse dance — the regime prohibits ordinary North Koreans from having access to the Internet.…  Seguir leyendo »

Adlai Stevenson once advised that “to act coolly, intelligently and prudently in perilous circumstances is the true test of a man — and also of a nation.” In the face of Iran’s potential for becoming a nuclear weapons state and a threat to Israel, U.S. leaders would be smart to follow Stevenson’s advice and act prudently and intelligently.

There is little doubt that a nuclear-armed Iran would pose dangerous challenges to U.S. interests and security, as well as to the security of Israel. There is no question of the seriousness of the problems presented by Iran’s nuclear program or the need to consider the use of military force as a last resort.…  Seguir leyendo »

En su editorial del pasado 11 de mayo La Vanguardia tildaba de «gravísimo desafío frontal» al Estado la reivindicación independista que, según preveía ese diario, el nacionalismo vasco plantearía pronto. El plebiscito soberanista anunciado por Mas demuestra que el nacionalismo catalán se ha anticipado al vasco al plantear un «gravísimo desafío frontal al Estado», términos que, con notable incoherencia, la cabecera catalana elude al tratar esa iniciativa nacionalista. Todo ello evidencia la preocupante «vasquización de la política catalana» sobre la que ya alertó Patxo Unzueta ( El País, 3/1/2007) al constatar que no se ha producido la esperada «catalanización» de la política vasca, sino una radicalización del nacionalismo catalán influida por «la idea de que a los vascos no les ha ido mal utilizando el soberanismo como amenaza latente».…  Seguir leyendo »

El desconcierto y el extravío, la frustración y un acusado sentimiento de pérdida son compartidos por una creciente mayoría de los ciudadanos. A excepción de las minorías pudientes, enriquecidas gracias a la especulación con la crisis, la sociedad civil deambula a tientas en la niebla, incapaz de atisbar los contornos de un futuro preñado de amenazas y peligros. Apenas cinco años han bastado para trocar la sociedad del riesgo –así bautizada por Ulrich Beck en la década de los noventa– en una sociedad del miedo que atenaza la cotidianidad y el horizonte de los sectores más vulnerables de la ciudadanía, juventud incluida.…  Seguir leyendo »

Half a century ago, in October 1962, the world woke up to the Cuban missile crisis. The Russians were unloading nuclear missiles on Cuba, and the Americans were demanding they be withdrawn. For some people, perhaps for many, it seemed the moment to drag out the old evangelical poster: The End of the World is Nigh. One prominent anti-nuclear campaigner fled noisily to the west coast of Ireland, imagining mistakenly that there she might be safe. It was a frightening time. Even today I can remember the chill in the air, something not just the result of autumnal bad weather.

I spent most evenings that week demonstrating outside the US embassy in Grosvenor Square.…  Seguir leyendo »

If you say the word “Brussels” to most British people, they will immediately think “bureaucracy”, or maybe “straight bananas”. So the award of the Nobel peace prize to the European Union is an important reminder that the European project has always had a strong element of anti-war idealism at its core.

The timing of the prize, however, is distinctly odd. The introduction of the euro changed the EU from an institution that used economic integration to promote peace to one that is sacrificing peace on the altar of free-market economics. Brussels is being rewarded for its pacific past at the very moment it is provoking civil strife.…  Seguir leyendo »

El mismo estupor, exactamente el mismo que han podido sentir muchos ciudadanos en Catalunya ante las declaraciones del ministro Wert, lo han sentido otros ciudadanos, muchos, muchísimos otros, en el resto de España. Pero la situación ha llegado a tal extremo que, al parecer, ya no basta con que esos otros ciudadanos lo digan en los periódicos en los que se expresan habitualmente, y es necesario que lo hagan en los de mayor prestigio en Catalunya para que no se les acuse, como se les ha acusado, de guardar silencio. Muchos, muchísimos ciudadanos no quieren que la escuela sirva para españolizar a los niños catalanes.…  Seguir leyendo »