Agosto de 2013

Since the United Nations was created in 1945, its Charter has been more honored in the breach than the observance. So maybe it should not surprise us that President Obama seems poised to authorize American military action against Syria, in clear violation of international law.

The Charter permits nations to use force against other nations only for self-defense or when the Security Council authorizes such force “to maintain or restore international peace and security,” as it did for Libya in 2011.

Mr. Obama seems to recognize the problem. “If the U.S. goes in and attacks another country without a U.N. mandate and without clear evidence that can be presented, then there are questions in terms of whether international law supports it,” he told CNN last week.…  Seguir leyendo »

In the wake of the chemical weapons attack near Damascus, Western military strikes against Syria seem imminent. And Germany will once again demand a special role.

With elections less than four weeks away, the developments in Syria are putting Chancellor Angela Merkel in a tough spot. Certainly, Berlin has felt compelled to ratchet up its rhetoric vis-à-vis President Bashar al-Assad, dubbing his regime’s alleged use of chemical weapons as the “breaking of a taboo” and a “crime against civilization.”

On the other hand, an escalation of the conflict could derail Merkel’s plans to coast to easy re-election on Sept. 22.

German political leaders know full well that the country’s public opinion remains highly skeptical of any military deployments abroad, let alone combat operations.…  Seguir leyendo »

For the past three decades, the Indian economy has grown impressively, at an average annual rate of 6.4 percent. From 2002 to 2011, when the average rate was 7.7 percent, India seemed to be closing in on China — unstoppable, and engaged in a second “tryst with destiny,” to borrow Jawaharlal Nehru’s phrase. The economic potential of its vast population, expected to be the world’s largest by the middle of the next decade, appeared to be unleashed as India jettisoned the stifling central planning and economic controls bequeathed it by Mr. Nehru and the nation’s other socialist founders.

But India’s self-confidence has been shaken.…  Seguir leyendo »

It’s not uncommon in African countries like Zimbabwe and Ethiopia for newspapers to be shut, and their editors jailed. But the newspaper I edit doesn’t operate in a dictatorship. We are in Liberia, the West’s poster child for postwar democracy building. Our president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, is a Nobel laureate who is celebrated by the likes of Bill Gates, Warren E. Buffett and Bono and has positioned herself as a champion of a free press.

Having spent the past week in jail and now under armed guard in a hospital since I contracted malaria, I’m not feeling particularly championed.

Until it was shut down last week, my paper, FrontPage Africa, had been setting a new standard for journalism in West Africa.…  Seguir leyendo »

Barack Obama has been pilloried for his cautious response to the Arab revolutions. One critic writing in The Post calls him “a president in full flight.” Many urge the president to make a big bet in favor of democracy in the region. When the uprisings known as the Arab Spring first began, some analysts were optimistic about the prospects for democracy, but the revolutions should be viewed in terms of decades, not seasons. Few observers in Paris in 1789 would have predicted that a Corsican corporal would lead French forces to the banks of the Nile within a decade. And interventions in the French Revolution by great powers such as Austria and Prussia fanned, rather than extinguished, the nationalist flames.…  Seguir leyendo »

Desde que tengo uso de razón, el tema de Gibraltar ha servido, por razones de política interna, para excitar el “fervor patriótico” de españoles y británicos. A los conservadores de Reino Unido por la nostalgia del imperio perdido y a la derecha española porque siempre le ha gustado sacar pecho frente a la “pérfida Albión”. Y ahora, si la cosa se pone cruda y el Gobierno de Rajoy pierde el control de la situación política e intenta tapar problemas internos del PP, viene muy bien al caso utilizar el conflicto sobre Gibraltar.

Sobre el tema de fondo del conflicto, el retorno del Peñón a la soberanía española, existe un gran consenso en la mayoría de los ciudadanos y de los partidos políticos españoles.…  Seguir leyendo »

En un reciente editorial de este periódico, muy justamente titulado Frenar la matanza, se decía, como corolario, lo siguiente: “El destino de un país como Egipto […]ha quedado primero al albur de unos ineptos políticos como los Hermanos Musulmanes y después de una casta militar autoritaria y cruel”. La llamada a frenar desde el exterior tanto derramamiento de sangre está encontrando la habitual respuesta de las grandes potencias: la parsimonia, la mística del comunicado, los meetings hasta el alba de los que nace, como mucho, el ratoncillo no de un embargo, sino de una restricción al envío de armas. Ni la Unión Europea, con la ineficacia global que la caracteriza, ni los Estados Unidos, atrapados en su propia geodinámica, se atreven a proponer a la ONU lo que sería única medida de contención y vigilancia: el envío in situde una misión de cascos azules, sobre todo si la Hermandad prosigue sus manifestaciones públicas.…  Seguir leyendo »

El ministro de Justicia, Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón, ha anunciado que dentro de tres meses presentará su proyecto de reforma de la ley del aborto. No han trascendido los detalles, pero parece que el ministro pretende suprimir el régimen de aborto libre y regresar al sistema puro de supuestos. ¿Qué motiva esta reforma? Según declaraciones del ministro, proteger la vida del no nacido y garantizar la libertad de la mujer. En efecto, estos son dos de los fines que justifican la regulación del aborto voluntario. Ahora bien, el ministro se halla sumido en cierta confusión muy generalizada en este debate: interpreta vida humana y libertad de la mujer como valores de moral privada que nos dan la respuesta a si es moralmente correcto que una mujer aborte, cuando debería interpretarlos como valores de moral pública y preguntarse si está justificado que el Estado obligue a dar a luz.…  Seguir leyendo »

En febrero de 1957, cuando Alberto Ullastres llegó al Ministerio de Comercio, el Estado sólo tenía divisas para comprar combustible durante dos meses. España estaba en una situación económica desesperada. El general Franco, quien –según el profesor Vicente Cacho– formó siempre gobiernos de coalición de todas las derechas españolas cuidando siempre de graduar la mezcla del cóctel según el momento, dejó la política económica en manos de los llamados tecnócratas, en concreto de Ullastres y de Navarro Rubio, ministro de Hacienda. Ambos impulsaron el plan de estabilización –cuya paternidad técnica corresponde a Joan Sardà Dexeus– para poner fin a la política de autarquía y liberalizar la economía.…  Seguir leyendo »

En política exterior, raramente se escoge entre una opción buena y otra mala. Lo más frecuente es tener que elegir entre una mala y otra peor. Esto es lo que le ha ocurrido a Estados Unidos en Siria. Fijó una línea roja: el uso de armas de destrucción masiva. El régimen de Bashar el Asad se la saltó y utilizó armas químicas, o al menos esto cree la inteligencia norteamericana. Mirar para otro lado hubiera sido demoledor para la credibilidad de Estados Unidos. Evidentemente, era una opción mala. Atacar Siria, aunque sea con un golpe quirúrgico, implica entrar en guerra de nuevo en Oriente Medio.…  Seguir leyendo »

Los mercados emergentes han sido los preferidos de los inversores a nivel mundial durante la mayor parte de la última década. Incluso los sobrios fondos de pensiones y los fondos soberanos de inversión han aumentado sus asignaciones de inversiones en activos de mercados emergentes.

Sin embargo, recientemente se ha deteriorado considerablemente el entorno para los flujos de capital que se dirigen a las economías emergentes. La desaceleración del crecimiento y las políticas equivocadas, junto con las señales que indican que la Reserva Federal de EE.UU. comenzará a endurecer su política monetaria al dar marcha atrás en su “flexibilización cuantitativa” (“QE” por su denominación en inglés, también conocida como compras abiertas de activos a largo plazo), han provocado profundas y generalizadas puestas a la venta de monedas, bonos y valores en los mercados de las economías emergentes.…  Seguir leyendo »

En plena guerra contra Irak, Donald Rumsfeld, por entonces secretario de defensa de EE. UU., habló de «incógnitas conocidas»: riesgos previsibles cuya ocurrencia es incierta. Hoy, la economía mundial enfrenta muchas incógnitas conocidas, en su gran mayoría, derivadas de la incertidumbre en las políticas.

En Estados Unidos, tres fuentes de incertidumbre política llegarán a un punto crítico este otoño. Para comenzar, no queda claro si la Reserva Federal iniciará en septiembre o más adelante una «reducción gradual» de su flexibilización cuantitativa (FC), cuán rápidamente limitará sus compras de activos de largo plazo, y cuándo y con qué velocidad comenzará a aumentar las tasas de interés por encima del actual nivel cero.…  Seguir leyendo »

Among the most enduring urban legends about high-level policy-making in the U.S. government is the proverbial memo with three options: 1. do nothing; 2. do everything; 3. find a middle ground and muddle through.

And yet in truth, Barack Obama really does have only three options in Syria. It appears that the president, rightly the avoider-in-chief when it comes to Syria, has chosen option three, the least bad alternative. And here’s why.

Do nothing

This isn’t really an option. Forget the fact that the president a year ago drew his own red line against Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons.…  Seguir leyendo »

On Tuesday afternoon, the New York Times website experienced wide outage for several hours. Who has the nerve and ability to take down one of the most iconic newspapers in the world?

The Syrian Electronic Army, which is loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, takes responsibility for the hack. This is not the first time the Syrian Electronic Army has attacked news organizations. The Washington Post, AP and others have been targeted in recent months as well.

If the New York Times saw Syrian activists spray-painting slogans on its building, it could summon the minions of the law to detain them.…  Seguir leyendo »

Our experience in Iraq provides three essential lessons that should guide America’s response to the Syrian regime’s alleged use of chemical weapons against its own people.

First, the president must present the American people and the international community with clear evidence that the al-Assad regime was responsible for the use of chemical weapons. The Bush administration took America to war in Iraq based on the false claim that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, including stockpiles of chemical weapons.

Those false claims not only led us into a costly and unnecessary war, but did lasting damage to America’s credibility. That erosion of credibility is haunting us now, as many in the international community question our claim that the al-Assad regime used chemical weapons.…  Seguir leyendo »

Whenever I fell ill as a child, my mother would say, “Go to Rabaa!” By the time I was a teenager, I knew by heart the side streets that led from my house to the Rabaa hospital, less than a mile away. Even though there was a government-run hospital just down the street, my neighbors, even the wealthy ones, preferred the facilities run by an Islamic charity at the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque. It was a different Egypt then. Now the mosque is in ashes, and the hospital is drenched in the smell of death.

There is nothing special about Nasr City, the eastern Cairo neighborhood where Rabaa stands.…  Seguir leyendo »

Just as people started to think that things were getting calmer – if not exactly brighter – in the rich countries, things have become decidedly slower and more volatile in the so-called “emerging market” economies. At the centre of the (unwanted) attention at the moment is India, which is seeing a rapid outflow of capital and thus a rapid fall in the value of its currency, the rupee. But many other emerging market economies, other than China, have also seen similar outflows and weakening of currencies recently.

This is not necessarily a bad development. The currencies of many emerging market economies, especially those of Brazil’s real and South Africa’s rand, had been significantly over-valued, damaging their export competitiveness.…  Seguir leyendo »

There will be those who believe Thursday’s vote in the House of Commons means that Britain cannot make a difference to the innocent civilians of Syria who are suffering such a humanitarian catastrophe. I don’t agree. We must use next week’s G20 meeting in Russia, with the eyes of the world on Syria, to seek to bring the international community together, and force the warring parties into the political solution that is necessary.

But the vote remains an important moment: for parliament, for the country and for Britain’s relations with the world. This moment also gives us the opportunity to learn the right lessons for the conduct of foreign policy across all parties.…  Seguir leyendo »

Syrians are fond of saying that their country is “the beating heart of the Arab world,” having played an outsize role in the history and politics of the region, from the Islamic golden age in the 7th century and the Arab Revolt during World War I to the Arab-Israeli wars. After 2 1/2 years of civil conflict, however, it is becoming more difficult to think of Syria as the spirit and soul of the region.

Among the catalogue of horrors that Bashar al-Assad and his supporters have perpetrated against their people, the use of chemical weapons in Ghouta on Aug. 21 is particularly egregious.…  Seguir leyendo »

Administration officials have said that neither the U.N. Security Council nor the actions of allies would affect their response to Syria. Apparently producing conclusive evidence to link the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to the use of chemical weapons against the nation’s citizens may not matter either.

And yet even a brief review of 25 years of U.S. military action teaches the tragedy of ignoring law and facts.

Just two years ago President Barack Obama recognized the need for a U.N. Security Council resolution to allow military action in Libya. Resolution 1973 authorized “necessary measures” to protect civilians. The resolution was needed because the use of military force is banned by the U.N.…  Seguir leyendo »