Viernes, 25 de enero de 2013

On first read, it might have been a hoax. On International Human Rights Day last month, the U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Anthony Wayne, “celebrated” Mexico’s human rights achievements. “The United States recognizes the Mexican government, including officials and institutions,” he wrote in the newspaper El Universal, “for its efforts to promote the defense of human rights in Mexico.”

It is hard to imagine a less appropriate time for such undeserved praise.

Wayne’s compliments came less than two weeks after the revelation that a staggering number of Mexicans, about 25,000, had disappeared in drug-related violence in the preceding six years. The number, from a list compiled by the Mexican attorney general’s office, was leaked to The Washington Post by a government analyst who feared that neither the outgoing administration of President Felipe Calderón nor the incoming administration of Enrique Peña Nieto, who took office Dec.…  Seguir leyendo »

The weather in Washington has been like a roller coaster this January. Yes, there has been a deep freeze this week, but it was the sudden warmth earlier in the month that was truly alarming. Flocks of birds — robins, wrens, cardinals and even blue jays – swarmed bushes with berries, eating as much as they could. Runners and bikers wore shorts and T-shirts. People worked in their gardens as if it were spring.

The signs of global warming are becoming more obvious and more frequent. A glut of extreme weather conditions is appearing globally. And the average temperature in the United States last year was the highest ever recorded.…  Seguir leyendo »

When I joined the Marine Corps, I knew I would kill people. I was trained to do it in a number of ways, from pulling a trigger to ordering a bomb strike to beating someone to death with a rock. As I got closer to deploying to war in 2009, my lethal abilities were refined, but my ethical understanding of killing was not.

I held two seemingly contradictory beliefs: Killing is always wrong, but in war, it is necessary. How could something be both immoral and necessary?

I didn’t have time to resolve this question before deploying. And in the first few months, I fell right into killing without thinking twice.…  Seguir leyendo »

The jihadists stoning women to death in Mali and taking hostages in Algeria are harbingers of much worse to come. Osama bin Laden may be dead, but Al Qaeda in Africa now threatens an area twice the size of Germany.

Mali is just one country in the Sahel, a million square miles of arid and semi-arid countryside stretching from the Atlantic to the Red Sea. The region has always been subject to episodes of starvation and brutal tribal conflicts, and things are now deteriorating further.

Many of the region's problems today can be traced back 20 years, to a decision by the United Nations and other international organizations to shift their focus away from family planning, which we know to be an extremely effective way to empower women and stretch scarce resources.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Enlightenment polymath Denis Diderot turns 300 this year, and his October birthday is shaping up to be special. President François Hollande has indicated that he plans to honor the philosopher and novelist with what may be France’s highest tribute: a symbolic reburial in the Panthéon. In the roughly two centuries since this massive neo-Classical church was converted into a secular mausoleum, fewer than 80 people have been admitted into its gravestone club. If inducted, Diderot will arguably be the first member to be celebrated as much for his attacks on reigning orthodoxies as for his literary stature.

Like many Enlightenment writers, Diderot preached the right of the individual to determine the course of his or her life.…  Seguir leyendo »

Many think of India, born of a violent partition in 1947, as itself harboring two identities: a smartphone wielding, English-speaking, fast-growing democracy that prefers macchiatos to masala chai, and a predominantly lower-caste, mystically minded mass of peasants who spend their days herding buffalos and wading through water-clogged rice paddies.

Geographic and class divisions have come to the fore again following the notorious gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student in New Delhi last month — a case that drew more attention to the status of women in India than any event in recent history.

The sight of thousands of women demanding justice led observers to point to the demonstrations as “a middle-class movement,” akin in style to the Arab Spring.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ten years ago, as I prepared to take part in the invasion of Iraq, I never thought women would be allowed to serve in combat jobs in the U.S. military, at least not in my lifetime. To be honest, I wasn’t even sure it was a good idea.

Some of my male comrades in the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) had even clearer thoughts on the question. They told me, sometimes to my face, that I didn’t belong in the military at all, much less in a combat zone. Women serving in the infantry was simply anathema to them.

Then we crossed the berm into Iraq and drove into Baghdad.…  Seguir leyendo »

For 10 months the collapse of Mali was largely ignored by the west. A country seen as a model democracy imploded, with an army coup in the south and an Islamist takeover of the vast desert regions in the north – but few cared outside France. Now everything has changed, and people who could barely place the country on a map are pontificating about its problems.

As ever, misconceptions become set in stone. Since the coup leader had trained briefly in the United States, conspiracy theorists see the Great Satan in the shadows. Others view France's intervention as some kind of neocolonialist adventure, or argue absurdly that its actions were driven by the desire for minerals – in this case gold rather than oil.…  Seguir leyendo »

Sometimes politicians are tactical rather than strategic. They seek short-term fixes to their problems without thinking about the long-term consequences. They get good reviews on the day but the plan soon unravels. That is certainly the story of David Cameron's Europe speech on Wednesday. He received plaudits from his backbenches and temporarily discomfited Ed Miliband, but at the cost of creating long-term problems for his party and the country.

I have spent most of my life involved in diplomatic negotiations of one sort or another, including 10 years in No 10 wrestling with EU matters. From a purely negotiating point of view, I have seldom seen a weaker opening hand than that which Cameron dealt Britain in his speech on Wednesday.…  Seguir leyendo »

Protests planned around Egypt-- particularly in Cairo's Tahrir Square -- on the second anniversary of the January 25 revolution are expected to be an explosion of dissent, revealing the deep divisions in the country between President Mohamed Morsy and the Egyptian people.

Opposition to Morsy's authoritarianism is broader than the world recognizes. In making accommodations for Morsy's government, the United States is -- once again -- out of step with the Egyptian people.

Egyptians may not know exactly what they want, but they know what they don't want. Although an effective political opposition has yet to coalesce, Egyptians from all sectors of society are united in their refusal to accept another repressive regime.…  Seguir leyendo »

Two Russias are emerging — one seeking freedom and prosperity, the other focused on patriotism and populism. In the first, people can travel abroad, buy and sell their homes and keep money securely in banks. In the other Russia, President Vladimir Putin stifles dissent, alleges NATO missile defense threats, and seeks to ensnare former Soviet neighbors in an unequal Eurasian union. A new diplomacy that deals effectively with both Russias is essential.

The first Russia is modernizing. In 2011 it had the world’s sixth-largest economy by purchasing power parity. Gross national income per capita was approximately $20,000, akin to European Union members Poland and Hungary.…  Seguir leyendo »

Quizás uno de los problemas europeos para abordar el conflicto de Mali sea el de calibrar la importancia real de la situación y actuar con una visión a largo plazo. El centro de atención gira en torno a la acción de Francia, a los intereses que han movido a este Estado o a los que pudieran movilizar a los demás tratando de justificar una nueva intervención internacional. Sin embargo, al margen de estos intereses hay una razón principal por encima del resto, como es la preservación de los derechos humanos. La instalación en el Sahel de grupos terroristas que se valen de la yihad para expandir el pánico y la miseria entre las poblaciones debería ser argumento suficiente para plantear la necesidad y urgencia de esta intervención.…  Seguir leyendo »

El pasado miércoles, el Parlamento de Cataluña aprobó la declaración de soberanía para el derecho a decidir con los votos a favor de Convergència i Unió (CiU), Esquerra Republicana (ERC), Iniciativa per Catalunya (ICV-EUiA), el sí crítico de las Candidatures d’Unitat Popular (CUP) y los votos en contra de Partit dels Socialistes (PSC), Partido Popular (PP) y Ciutadans. Cinco diputados del PSC consideramos que la mejor opción era no votar no, una decisión tan difícil como consciente.

Consciente, pensando en visualizar la pluralidad que siempre ha caracterizado a una organización históricamente abierta a las alianzas con la sociedad civil. Consciente, pensando en representar a unos votantes que nos siguen esperando, que esperan de nosotros una mayor apertura al diálogo, que reclaman de nosotros una mayor participación en la toma de decisiones y que cada vez son más reticentes al tacticismo.…  Seguir leyendo »

No sabemos qué pasó, pero cuando nos despertamos el zorro estaba a cargo de proteger a las gallinas. El próximo lunes, el presidente de Chile, Sebastián Piñera, entregará la presidencia pro temporede la Comunidad de Estados Latinoamericanos y Caribeños (CELAC) a Raúl Castro, presidente de Cuba. Durante el próximo año, el único presidente de América Latina que no puede mostrar el galardón de haber sido elegido por la voluntad popular tendrá a su cargo vigilar la democracia de nuestra región.

La CELAC es el último proyecto de la unidad regional soñada por Simón Bolívar. A lo largo de la historia, este sueño encontró obstáculos creados por nuestras propias torpezas y por la ambición norteamericana que osciló entre darnos la espalda o la espada, pero nunca vio en la región a un verdadero aliado.…  Seguir leyendo »

La destrucción deliberada y sistemática de un pueblo o grupo étnico se considera desde la perspectiva jurídica internacional el crimen más atroz entre todos los crímenes. Le llamamos genocidio. Un crimen contra la humanidad. Un crimen que nos cuesta entender. Y, pese a todo, ha estado presente de manera repetida, bajo diversas formas, en nuestra historia reciente.

El Holocausto, es decir, el asesinato masivo de judíos en Europa durante la II Guerra Mundial, representa el paradigma de ese crimen contra la humanidad, que tuvo como objetivo el exterminio del pueblo judío. Su sinrazón fue el sustrato sobre el que se acordó la Convención de Naciones Unidas sobre el Genocidio, adoptada en 1948.…  Seguir leyendo »

En estos días se cumplen los dos años del inicio de las revueltas que culminaron con el derrocamiento de Hosni Mubarak. Y del mismo modo que me he negado en todo este tiempo a denominar Primavera al estallido antigubernamental (superenésimo en la historia de Egipto y de los árabes), tampoco abundaremos haciendo bromas —por merecidas que sean— o comparaciones de gran originalidad mediante el recuerdo del otoño y/o el invierno. Muy socorrido todo cuando no se puede agregar mucho más. Tal vez, mutatismutandis, sí cuadre mejor recordar el viejo chiste suramericano: «¿Cuántas estaciones hay en La Paz (Bolivia)? Respuesta: Dos, el invierno y la de ferrocarril».…  Seguir leyendo »

Desde Pakistán hasta Líbano, pasando por Iraq, Egipto y Siria, la tensión entre las comunidades suníes y chiíes se agrava. Esto vuelve más complejos los vínculos de Occidente con una región donde predomina el islam político. Los signos se multiplican. Mientras en Siria y Líbano los salafistas (grupo radical suní) ganan terreno, en Pakistán se produjo el 10 de enero la matanza de 92 chiíes a manos de radicales suníes. Al mismo tiempo, crece la movilización suní contra el primer ministro iraquí, Nuri Kamal al Maliki (chií).

El derrocamiento de Sadam Husein en Iraq tuvo como consecuencia no deseada para Estados Unidos un auge del chiismo, lo que significó más influencia para Irán en Oriente Medio con el ascenso de los chiíes al poder en Bagdad.…  Seguir leyendo »

L'Europe n'est pas en crise, elle est en train de mourir. Pas l'Europe comme territoire, naturellement. Mais l'Europe comme idée. L'Europe comme rêve et comme projet. Cette Europe selon l'esprit célébré par le philosophe Edmund Husserl (1859-1938) dans ses deux grandes conférences prononcées en 1938, à Vienne, à la veille de la catastrophe nazie.

Cette Europe comme volonté et représentation, comme chimère et comme chantier, cette Europe qu'ont relevée nos pères, cette Europe qui a su redevenir une idée neuve en Europe, qui a pu apporter aux peuples de l'après-seconde guerre mondiale une paix, une prospérité, une diffusion de la démocratie inédites mais qui est, sous nos yeux, en train de se déliter.…  Seguir leyendo »