Viernes, 30 de agosto de 2013

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. Disregard the reality that this is reportedly the largest single deployment of chemical weapons since Saddam Hussein used them against the Kurds in 1988; dismiss the fact that 100,000 Syrians have died in this civil conflict; and the president is accused of fiddling, Nero-like, while Syria burns.…  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 »

Why has the Obama administration been so reluctant to intervene in Syria? There are a host of reasons -- American fatigue with war, President Barack Obama's disinclination to start another conflict in the Middle East, and the splintered, fractured opposition to Bashar al-Assad.

But one reason looms large: al Qaeda.

Al Qaeda's affiliate in Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra, is generally acknowledged to be the most effective force fighting al-Assad.

Its fighters are willing to sacrifice themselves for the cause, are widely viewed as uncorrupt and are not involved in looting as other opposition forces are. A number of them are battle-hardened from other conflicts such as the Iraq War.…  Seguir leyendo »

In May 1993, I was the first Israeli to begin formal negotiations with the Palestine Liberation Organization, which resulted in the Oslo peace accords signed later in 1993 and Oslo II in 1995.

With a perspective of 20 years, the critical achievement of the process was to put an end to the maximalist scenarios of a greater Israel or a greater Palestine, “from the sea to the Jordan.” From Oslo on, it became clear that the land would ultimately have to be shared by two states.

On the other hand, Oslo failed to meet the Israeli and Palestinian expectation of resolving their bitter conflict, primarily due to the election in 1996 of an anti-Oslo government in Israel led by Benjamin Netanyahu, and also Yasser Arafat’s failure to combat Palestinian terror and extremism.…  Seguir leyendo »

Oriente Medio sigue conmocionado por una espiral de inestabilidad que no parece tener fin. La posible intervención militar en Siria y el grave empeoramiento de la situación en Egipto tras el golpe militar captan la atención mundial. Por otra parte, a pesar de los cambios que se han producido en el país tras las elecciones, la negociación nuclear iraní no ha recuperado dinamismo.

Oriente Medio vive una complicadísima situación con tintes paradójicos. Los aliados tradicionales de Estados Unidos en la región (Arabia Saudí, Israel, Turquía, Egipto y las monarquías del Golfo) muestran intereses dispares sobre la región. En todos los casos entran en juego otros actores regionales.…  Seguir leyendo »

Europe has been the source of unremitting gloom and doom for four years. The euro crisis has threatened the global economy. Most Americans, and many Europeans, have become exasperated with European nations’ failure to respond decisively to their troubles.

So it is a refreshing — and brilliant — decision by President Obama to visit Sweden and meet with Scandinavian prime ministers en route to next week’s Group of 20 summit in Russia. Sweden escaped the crisis in its neighborhood, and it quickly restored steady and stable growth. It presents a proven model for the types of reforms needed in much of Europe and many other parts of the world, including the United States, and Obama should carry this success story to the full G-20.…  Seguir leyendo »

During a visit to the Egyptian governorate of North Sinai on Aug. 10, I watched as scores of pickup trucks, packed with hard-line Islamists waving the black flags associated with al-Qaeda, poured onto a major road. They were heading to the funeral of five militants who had been killed the day before in a drone strike — allegedly Israeli — as they prepared to launch a rocket into Israel from the border city of Rafah. Those in the procession waved signs calling for jihad against the Egyptian military and Israel, whose cooperation on counterterrorism operations has been condemned by Sinai-based jihadist groups.…  Seguir leyendo »

Un informe del Senado francés señalaba que el 70% de las muestras de los ciclistas del Tour de 1998 contenían EPO. Esto se ha podido saber tras un análisis retrospectivo realizado en 2004. La sospecha de doping en el ciclismo es tan generalizada que Chris Froome tuvo que dar muchas explicaciones después de su espectacular subida al Mont Ventoux en el último Tour.

Esta actitud la explica con sencillez el dilema del prisionero. Un ciclista, ante la expectativa de que sus contrincantes se doparán, se dopa también moviéndose a la peor situación, pues ambos ponen en peligro su salud, consiguiendo el mismo resultado si el dopaje es del mismo tipo y les influye de la misma manera.…  Seguir leyendo »

En menos de dos años hemos transitado del milagro carioca a la resurrección mexicana. A ojos de la prensa internacional y de multitud de especialistas financieros, Brasil ha pasado de ser ejemplo de equilibrio entre Estado y mercado a ser un país ineficiente, demasiado orientado al mercado interno y paralizado por una ola inesperada de protestas sociales y de ataques especulativos. Gracias a unos pocos meses de alto crecimiento económico apoyado en las exportaciones y por una redescubierta retórica reformista, México lo ha sustituido como la joya latinoamericana y el modelo a seguir. Los adalides de la apertura no han tardado en ensalzar la voluntad mexicana de profundizar las reformas neoliberales y firmar nuevos acuerdos comerciales.…  Seguir leyendo »

El escándalo de la red de escuchas Prisma ha abierto un nuevo capítulo en la sociedad del riesgo mundial. En los decenios pasados hemos conocido una serie de riesgos globales: el cambio climático, el riesgo nuclear, el financiero, el terrorismo... y ahora el riesgo digital global que amenaza a la libertad. Todos estos riesgos (con excepción del terrorismo) en cierto modo forman parte del desarrollo tecnológico, pero también cristalizaban temores que se habían expresado durante la fase de modernización de estas nuevas tecnologías. Sin embargo, ahora se produce un acontecimiento en el que un riesgo se constituye de golpe en un problema mundial, como ocurre en la amenaza para la libertad que han puesto en evidencia las revelaciones de Edward Snowden.…  Seguir leyendo »

Quienes, al igual que Borges, nos habíamos figurado el paraíso bajo la especie de una biblioteca, estamos de luto. Primeramente, la teología postconciliar demolió los paisajes de la vida futura, diciéndonos que el infierno no era un «lugar físico»; de donde se derivaba, inevitablemente, que el paraíso tampoco. Y un paraíso que ya no fuese concebible bajo la especie de una biblioteca, sino como un no-lugar (utopos), empezó a olernos a chamusquina utópica. Cuando ya parecía que toda esta pachanga teológica declinaba, la tecnología vino a rematar la faena: no es que el paraíso no pueda ya concebirse bajo la especie de una biblioteca, es que las bibliotecas han dejado de ser un lugar paradisíaco.…  Seguir leyendo »

Israel could be forgiven for having a siege mentality — given that at any moment, old front-line enemies Syria and Egypt might spill their violence over common borders.

The Arab Spring has turned Israel’s once-predictable adversaries into the chaotic state of a Sudan or Somalia. The old understandings between Jerusalem and the Assad and Mubarak kleptocracies seem in limbo.

Yet these tragic Arab revolutions swirling around Israel are paradoxically aiding it, both strategically and politically — well beyond the erosion of conventional Arab military strength.

In terms of realpolitik, anti-Israeli authoritarians are fighting to the death against anti-Israeli insurgents and terrorists.…  Seguir leyendo »

La reciente publicación de un nuevo ranking de universidades, está vez el de Shanghái, con un posicionamiento muy deficiente de las universidades españolas, sirve para plantearnos una reflexión sobre la calidad de nuestra educación superior si bien un análisis serio nos lleva a concluir que no podemos comparar como iguales cosas que no lo son. Así, dicha clasificación valora fundamentalmente el número de premios Nobel entre el profesorado y la repercusión científica de las publicaciones académicas emanadas de cada centro. En definitiva, no valora la calidad docente sino investigadora. Trabajar en la frontera del conocimiento permite al profesorado universitario tener una visión actualizada de su área de conocimiento, sin lo cual apenas sería el mero intérprete de un libro de texto, pero no podemos tampoco olvidar que la Universidad es mucho más.…  Seguir leyendo »

U.S. military intervention in Syria would be immoral, illegal and treasonous. It would benefit our mortal enemy, al Qaeda, and possibly trigger a wider Mideast war. President Obama is playing with fire. He is dangerously putting his ego above the national interest. Bombing Syria threatens to leave his presidency in tatters.

In August 2012, Mr. Obama publicly drew a “red line” in Syria’s bloody civil war. He vowed that the use of chemical weapons would trigger a muscular U.S. response. Mr. Obama — along with the leaders of Britain and France — claims that Syrian strongman Bashar Assad used chemical weapons against rebel forces outside the capital of Damascus, murdering hundreds of civilians, including women and children.…  Seguir leyendo »