Lunes, 9 de septiembre de 2013

The Arab Awakening has caused a crisis in the Middle East that will take years to sort out. There is one Middle East crisis, however, that must be resolved in months, not years.

Every American committed to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon should urge Congress to grant President Obama authority to use military force against the Assad regime in Syria.

The inauguration of Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s new president, offers some hope of a diplomatic settlement that eliminates the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran. But Rouhani will need the approval of Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, who has made confrontation with the United States the centerpiece of his rule.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Group of 20 has concluded its meetings and dinner discussions of what to do about charges that Syrian President Bashar Assad has used poison gas to kill more than 1,400 of his own people.

France, Britain, Turkey, and Canada expressed varying degrees of support for U.S. President Barack President Obama’s call for military action, while Russian President Vladimir Putin called U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry a liar and claimed that the evidence against Assad is inconclusive. Russia and China insisted that the United States cannot take action without approval from the United Nations Security Council, where they will veto any such move.…  Seguir leyendo »

Three prime ministers — Julia Gillard, Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott — in three months: Has Australia caught the Japan political disease of playing musical chairs with the head of government?

For the Australian Labor Party, a crushing defeat on Saturday night was the finale of a tragedy in five acts. Because the result is more a repudiation of internecine Labor infighting than an enthusiastic endorsement of Coalition philosophy and policies, it does not mark an ideological shift to the right. For new Prime Minister Tony Abbott, the results were just rewards for leading a remarkably disciplined, stable and united team through three years of national political turmoil and global economic turbulence.…  Seguir leyendo »

In dealing with the Syrian crisis, many people and countries in the world are split into one of two camps: those who believe Bashar al-Asaad used chemical weapons and therefore should be attacked, and those who deny Asaad culpability and believe the deaths were caused by rebels to embarrass Asaad while U.N. investigators were in Damascus. There is a growing third group, one that believes, although the use of chemical weapons on Aug. 21 came on orders of a commander loyal to Asaad, a U.S.-led attack is not the accepted response for this atrocity.

The Baathist Syrian regime of Hafez and son Bashar al-Asaad is not new to brutality towards their political enemies.…  Seguir leyendo »

“A vote against the resolution by Congress [to strike Syria] I think would be catastrophic . [It would] undermine the credibility of the United States. If we don’t get Syria right, Iran is surely going to take the signals that we don’t care about their nuclear program . If we lost a vote in Congress dealing with the chemical weapons being used in Syria, what effect would that have on Iran and their nuclear program?”

— Sen. John McCain, Sept. 2.

The desire of some members of the Washington establishment to wage a strike on Syria to make a point with Iran goes far beyond Mr.…  Seguir leyendo »

But indecision will have grave consequences

President Obama’s indecisiveness in dealing with Syrian President Bashar Assad’s two-year civil war has emboldened the radicals who rule Iran to pursue nuclear weapons.

Iran’s decision-makers have long thought that the Obama administration is not willing to engage in a military confrontation in the region, specifically over the regime’s illicit nuclear program.

A recent report in the newspaper Keyhan, which is directly supervised by the supreme leader, stated that the fear of the fallout from a war with Syria has caused division in the West and has forced it to back down. Indeed, the British Parliament has already vetoed a strike against Syria; Congress, on the eve of debate, is already showing signs it may, too.…  Seguir leyendo »

The opponents of congressional authorization for military strikes against Syria are focused on one set of concerns: the belief that the costs of action are simply too high and uncertain. Syria for them is a civil war, with few apparent good guys and far too many bad guys. The use of chemical weapons is, in their eyes, terrible, but ultimately it is not our problem — unless, of course, we make it our problem by reacting militarily. If we do, they see a slippery slope in which the initial use of force will inevitably suck us into a conflict that we cannot win.…  Seguir leyendo »

Of all the popular uprisings in recent history, that of the Syrian people is the most documented. For 2 1 / 2 years, the Assad regime’s inhumane military repression has been shown to the world through testimonies, photos and video footage captured on the mobile phones of terrified Syrians and, increasingly, through reports from respected international journalists.

It has never been more important to remember that the first months of the revolution resonated with the heartfelt slogans of “The Syrian people are one” and “Peaceful.” Even when Bashar al-Assad’s security forces upgraded their repression from live fire to airstrikes, peaceful demonstrators continued to chant, armed with banners, flowers and even cool water for the very security forces tasked with crushing them.…  Seguir leyendo »

There is a non-lethal way to help ensure that Bashar al-Assad and other perpetrators of atrocities in Syria are held to account not someday far in the future but beginning now.

The U.N. Security Council must move immediately to establish a Syria War Crimes Tribunal. Past ad hoc war crimes tribunals including courts for the former Yugoslavia, Sierra Leone and Rwanda have made a difference, but sent thugs to jail after hostilities ended. A new sense of urgency and commitment requires initiating investigations and prosecutions now in order to send a clear message to those who commit genocide— and all those just following orders — that such barbaric behavior has dire personal consequences.…  Seguir leyendo »

Going to war may be the worst of the bad options

Team Obama’s public campaign to embroil the United States in Syria’s civil war has kicked into high gear. President Obama’s senior subordinates have been warning incessantly about the costs of inaction and making preposterous promises about the benefits of conducting a limited attack on Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime.

Mr. Obama was set to throw himself into the sales pitch, too, with a saturation round of TV appearances Monday night and an address to the nation Tuesday.

Will all this lobbying work? Will skeptical legislators ignore their constituents — who overwhelmingly recognize the folly of this proposal — and do as the White House and some Republicans demand?…  Seguir leyendo »

The United States and its European allies appear unable or unwilling to intervene effectively and forcefully in Syria. Therefore it is time to consider a military solution under the auspices of the Arab League to protect Syrian civilians from further violence and ultimately dislodge the government of Bashar al-Assad.

Over the past two-and-a-half years, gut-wrenching images of unspeakable, indiscriminate violence against civilians in Syria have shocked the world. By the latest United Nations estimates, over 100,000 Syrians, including many children, have been killed as a result of the Assad regime’s criminal behavior.

Whether through the murder of peaceful protesters, the shelling of residential quarters with chemical weapons, or the execution of soldiers who refuse to open fire on their countrymen, the Syrian regime has systematically defied even the most basic international moral and legal standards.…  Seguir leyendo »

On Tuesday, the eyes of Kenya will be firmly fixed on The Hague, where the trial of the country’s deputy president, William Ruto, and his co-defendant, Joshua arap Sang, an influential radio executive, is set to begin before the International Criminal Court. They have been charged with crimes against humanity for their alleged roles in the violence that rocked Kenya in late 2007 and early 2008. Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta, will face similar charges in a related case set for trial in November.

As the world reels from atrocities committed in Syria and Egypt, it may be easy to forget that nearly six years ago, it was Kenya that was on fire.…  Seguir leyendo »

Este otoño, según han anunciado desde el departamento de prensa de la casa editora, se publicará la primera biografía del autor de «El guardián entre el centeno», titulada «The Private War of J. D. Salinger», La guerraprivada de J.D.Salinger, que pretende ser la primera y exhaustiva biografía de uno de los escritores más secretos de la literatura norteamericana, tan secreto que, dice, es ya un tópico, prácticamente no se conoce nada de su vida. Sus autores, David Shields y Shane Salerno, se propusieron realizar una biografía que les llevara seis meses. Finalmente, el trabajo les ha durado ocho años. El resultado es una espléndida obra en torno a J.…  Seguir leyendo »

En los últimos meses, el president Mas ha legitimado repetidamente el derecho a decidir en, literalmente, una democracia “radical”, forma política opuesta a las clases medias, líderes por décadas del catalanismo, de las que CiU es el agente electoral.

Aristóteles inició una distinción, adoptada por los teorizadores de la división de poderes pero despreciada por los defensores de un poder ejecutivo irrestricto, como Maquiavelo, entre el fin y la forma de un régimen. El fin es la causa final, la idea de virtud que una comunidad intenta encarnar. Por ejemplo: ¿habrá movilidad social? ¿Será el mérito su clave? ¿Quién pagará la igualdad de oportunidades?…  Seguir leyendo »

El régimen sirio ha recurrido a las armas químicas y, de repente, Estados Unidos, Francia, Turquía o el Reino Unido se plantean intervenir. ¿Pero sobre qué bases pueden hacerlo? Si la guerra química supone el último recurso para Bashar el Asad, ¿un buen argumento sería el ético, hay que oponerse moralmente, “castigarle” –como dice el presidente francés– por haber utilizado otras armas que aquellas que serían aceptables?

Dos grandes tradiciones intelectuales opuestas pueden permitir tomar distancia, evitar ser llevados por las emociones y las imágenes y conducir a la reflexión.

La primera, política, halla su expresión clásica en Carl von Clausewitz, este oficial prusiano autor, tras las grandes guerras napoleónicas, de textos que forman el tratado De la guerra y que declara, en una frase célebre, que “la guerra no es más que la continuación de la política por otros medios”.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hace cincuenta años, Martin Luther King soñó con un Estados Unidos que un día pudiera cumplir su promesa de igualdad para todos sus ciudadanos, sean ellos blancos o negros. Hoy Mark Zuckerberg, fundador de Facebook, también tiene un sueño: dar acceso a Internet a los cinco mil millones de personas del planeta que no lo tienen.

La visión de Zuckerberg puede parecer un intento interesado de lograr más usuarios de Facebook. Sin embargo, hoy el mundo se enfrenta a una creciente brecha tecnológica que tiene implicaciones para la igualdad, la fraternidad y la libertad, y el derecho a buscar la felicidad no menos urgentes que la división racial contra la que predicara King.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hasta hace poco, la seguridad informática interesaba principalmente a los frikis informáticos y a los tipos aficionados a la intriga y el misterio. Los creadores de Internet, parte de una pequeña y cerrada comunidad, se sentían muy cómodos con un sistema abierto en el que la seguridad no fuera una preocupación primordial. Pero con los cerca de tres billones de personas que hacen uso de la web hoy en día, esa misma apertura se ha convertido en una grave vulnerabilidad y, de hecho, está poniendo en peligro las grandes oportunidades económicas que Internet ha abierto al mundo.

Un ciberataque puede adoptar una variedad de formas, desde las simples pruebas de sondeo a la desfiguración de sitios web, ataques de denegación de servicio, espionaje y destrucción de datos.…  Seguir leyendo »

La derrota es una experiencia amarga, ante la que se puede actuar con torpeza o con inteligencia, según se aprenda o no algo de ella. Un comportamiento torpe ante la derrota es negarla, maquillarla, echar la culpa a otro, escurrir el bulto, lo que conduce a la agresividad y al autoengaño. Mala solución. También es torpe pasar al extremo contrario, agrandar el desastre, culpabilizarse en exceso, hundirse en la desesperanza, porque nos lleva a la pasividad y a renunciar a intentarlo de nuevo. El triunfo también puede encajarse estúpidamente. Lleva entonces al engreimiento y a la prepotencia. Por eso, los inteligentísimos romanos hacían que durante la ceremonia triunfal, un esclavo mantuviera la corona de laurel sobre la cabeza del general vencedor diciéndole continuamente Respice post te, hominem te esse memento, es decir, «Mira hacia atrás y recuerda que sólo eres un hombre».…  Seguir leyendo »

Ha querido la casualidad que sea el 11 de septiembre (o cerca de esa fecha) el día en que el Congreso de los Estados Unidos decidirá si apoya o no la propuesta del presidente Barack Obama de responder militarmente al uso de gas venenoso contra civiles por parte del gobierno sirio. Sobre el resultado de las deliberaciones (y sobre el hecho mismo de que la cuestión sea objeto de debate) se cierne la sombra de otros dos acontecimientos que también sucedieron un 11 de septiembre.

Mucho antes de que el 11 de septiembre se convirtiera en un día aciago para los Estados Unidos, adquirió también un significado similar en Chile.…  Seguir leyendo »

Es difícil saber cuántas buenas ideas hay en política. En su último ensayo publicado en la New York Review of Books, en 1998, Isaiah Berlin aseguraba no saber si eran 74, 122 o 26, pero estaba convencido de que había bastantes. La mala noticia, decía Berlin, es que aunque una sociedad pueda vivir con un amplio número de ideas políticas y morales que tienen razón de ser, son buenas por sí mismas y pueden manejarse mediante la negociación, muchas de esas ideas son incompatibles y no pueden llevarse a cabo al mismo tiempo. Por traerlo a la actualidad española, podríamos decir que sería un estupendo bien que se subieran las pensiones y se expandiera el Estado de bienestar; pero también sería un bien deseable que se bajaran los impuestos a la clase media y no legáramos un montón de deuda a nuestros hijos.…  Seguir leyendo »