Lunes, 30 de diciembre de 2013

Feminists across Western Europe are sounding the alarm. Prostitution, they claim, has become today’s “white slavery,” with ever more women from Bulgaria and Romania, Africa and Asia being forced, tricked or seduced into selling their bodies.

But in doing so, these activists are creating a schism in the movement, between those who see prostitution as another form of male oppression and those who see it as a possible means of female empowerment.

Much of the debate is centered in Germany, where prostitution is legal. As a result, the German author Alice Schwarzer said, the country has become “an El Dorado for human traffickers, a paradise for johns from all over the Continent,” who come in busloads to frequent the new “mega-brothels” in Cologne, Munich or Berlin.…  Seguir leyendo »

In less than a year in office, Pope Francis has certainly stirred things up. Eschewing the papal palace to live in a simple apartment, and mingling with ordinary people in St. Peter’s Square rather than staying cloistered with cardinals in the Curia, the pope, recently named Time magazine’s Person of the Year, appears to offer a sharp contrast to his recent predecessors.

Many of the pope’s statements have been highly arresting: He has attacked the “idolatry of money” and called unchecked capitalism “a new tyranny.” His trenchant critique of trickle-down economics has earned the ire of conservative commentators like the radio host Rush Limbaugh, who termed as “Marxist” the pope’s exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium,” published in November.…  Seguir leyendo »

A bribery and corruption scandal has plunged Turkey into crisis, seriously undermining Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s authority. Mr. Erdogan now faces serious challenges from both secularists suspicious of his Islamist agenda and his erstwhile ally turned rival, the cleric Fethullah Gulen, who leads a powerful Islamic movement from his perch in Pennsylvania. Sluggish economic growth and setbacks in foreign policy have only spurred the critics.

The political bickering is unlikely to let up before next year’s crucial presidential election, in which Mr. Erdogan is expected to run. He will have a difficult time repairing the tarnished image of his Justice and Development Party, or A.K.P.…  Seguir leyendo »

Decía Julián Marías que en España había que repetir las cosas tres veces para que se oyeran. Por eso en estas horas urgentes reitero una recomendación: quien quiera entender las causas de nuestra crisis nacional y las honduras de la gravedad del presente que lea el capítulo XI –la época del «señorito satisfecho»– del libro que mejor la anticipa y explica, La rebelión de las masas. Auguro que quedará muy asombrado. Porque lo que nos sucede y cómo hemos llegado hasta este estado de descomposición y entropía se resume en asistir hoy al cumplimiento efectivo del gran temor de Ortega: que alguna vez el prototipo del hombre (y mujer)-masa se alzase de pleno con la dirigencia de nuestra nación en cualquiera de sus vertientes.…  Seguir leyendo »

Últimamente varios países han anunciado su intención de reducir su aportación a la cooperación en Nicaragua, ya sea por razones políticas o por un cambio de estrategia enfocado en África. Lo cierto es que la ayuda al desarrollo que los países más ricos destinan a los países que lo son menos está siendo muy cuestionada hoy. Este fenómeno se confirma con la publicación del libro Dead aid, escrito por la doctora por la Universidad de Harvard Dambisa Moyo, una especialista en ayuda al desarrollo con varios años de experiencia en el Banco Mundial. En este libro, haciendo referencia a algunos países de África, la doctora afirma de manera tajante que “la ayuda al desarrollo es mala y debe desaparecer”.…  Seguir leyendo »

Volver a hablar sobre la interrupción voluntaria del embarazo cansa, es agobiante. Se parece a Sísifo arrastrando una piedra hasta la cima. La piedra cae, y así, sucesivamente. Desearíamos que nos dejaran en paz, que se olvidaran de nosotros. Si el Estado ha de entrometerse que lo haga en cualquier rincón en donde haya miseria, repartiendo con equidad los recursos o creando las condiciones para que seamos lo más felices posible. Pero que no se meta en nuestra vida y en nuestro cuerpo. No lo ha entendido el que tenemos encima porque se está metiendo hasta en la cama. Como diosecillo se empeña en reprimir ahora, con una zafiedad que espanta, el aborto, por regulado, controlado y humanizado que sea.…  Seguir leyendo »

Según los sondeos y, sobre todo, según la percepción de quienes vivimos en Cataluña, el independentismo gana adeptos día a día. No sé si esta percepción es la misma en el resto de España. En todo caso, el Gobierno Rajoy, que sin duda está seriamente preocupado por el asunto, no adopta políticas visibles para contrarrestar esta acelerada inclinación de la opinión pública catalana hacia la secesión. Todo parece indicar que su estrategia consiste en que sean las propias contradicciones en el seno de la sociedad catalana quienes le solucionen el problema. ¿Acierta o se equivoca? No es fácil responder taxativamente pero sí cabe hacer algunas reflexiones para intentar contestarla.…  Seguir leyendo »

Con el fin de solucionar un problema, parece que una condición importante es procurar definirlo bien. Y definirlo bien, especialmente en el ámbito político, requiere, como mínimo, tres cosas. Primero, saber escoger cuál es la cuestión básica o decisiva a considerar. Obviamente, además de esta cuestión habrá otras –de carácter económico, social, cultural– que se entrelazan con la primera, pero resulta improcedente mezclarlas de entrada. Segundo, caracterizarlo con la máxima precisión posible. Eso requiere tanto un esmerado tratamiento conceptual como incluir todos los datos empíricos que le son relevantes. Y tercero, hay que saber dónde dirigirse para buscar las posibles soluciones en el ámbito de la teoría y de la política comparada (Isaiah Berlin decía que las preguntas que se hacen en filosofía o ciencias sociales sólo son inteligibles si sabemos dónde buscar las respuestas).…  Seguir leyendo »

Pasado mañana comenzaremos 2014, y estoy segura de que a lo largo de todo el año no dejarán de aparecer artículos, ensayos, libros y reportajes sobre la Gran Guerra que estalló después del asesinato de Sarajevo el 28 de junio de 1914, al cumplirse justo 100 años. Una Guerra tremenda que llenó de cadáveres los campos de Europa, que acabó con imperios tan centenarios como el austrohúngaro, el ruso o el otomano, que cambió radicalmente el mapa político europeo y que, mal resuelta en la Paz de Versalles, engendró la aún más terrorífica II Guerra Mundial.

La importancia de aquel acontecimiento terrible, cuyas consecuencias llegan hasta hoy, justifica, sin duda, todos los estudios y análisis que se le dediquen.…  Seguir leyendo »

When Japanese leaders visit Tokyo’s notorious Yasukuni shrine to the country’s war dead, Chinese microbloggers tend to notice. In April, after 168 members of Shinzo Abe’s right-wing government visited the shrine (where, among others, 14 World War II-era Class-A war criminals are enshrined), the search term “Yasukuni” lingered on Sina Weibo’s trending topic list for days. In the wake of Shinzo Abe’s personal visit to the shrine on Friday, one would surely have expected that “Yasukuni” would have dominated China’s trending topic lists over the weekend. Yet curiously, the term hasn’t appeared at all.

Why not? The likely answer is that the Chinese government learned its lesson after anti-Japanese riots spread nationwide in September 2012.…  Seguir leyendo »

There is an opportunity to halt South Sudan’s slide into war and state failure, but it must be seized within days or it will be lost. This requires the leaders of South Sudan to rise above narrow, tribalistic, zero-sum politics and develop a national program. President Salva Kiir and other members of the country’s political elite — in government and in opposition, inside South Sudan and in the diaspora — must respond to this challenge now or go down in history as having betrayed their people.

Nine years ago, on Jan. 9, 2005, the Sudanese government and the southern-based Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) signed a historic peace accord that brought an end to more than 20 years of war between northern and southern Sudan.…  Seguir leyendo »

During the Cold War, the term “Kremlinology” referred to efforts to understand what was taking place at the commanding heights of the Soviet Union — indeed, behind the entire Iron Curtain.

Kremlinologists monitored (in whatever way possible) who was up and who was down among the core Soviet leadership. Great significance was read into who signed an official document, or who stood where atop Lenin’s Tomb in Red Square when reviewing military parades.

All of that was grammar-school stuff compared to efforts to decipher the regime in North Korea, where the truth is far more opaque.

Consider what happened on Dec.…  Seguir leyendo »

What is a sound U.S. policy toward Russia? I started to think about this 25 years ago when, in October 1988, I received an invitation from Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s science adviser, Yuri Ossipyan, to visit Moscow. This was quite unexpected, as only a few months earlier the official government newspaper denounced me and a few other exiled dissidents for trying to undermine Mr. Gorbachev’s initiatives by presenting them as part of a sinister KGB ruse to fool the naive West.

During our first nearly secret meeting at the Oktyabrskaya, now the President Hotel, Mr. Ossipyan introduced me to Alexander Yakovlev, at the time Mr.…  Seguir leyendo »

Iran has been constructing a “heavy-water” nuclear reactor near Arak, capable of producing weapons-grade Plutonium-239 — sufficient for about one bomb per year. This program is in addition to the ongoing production of fissionable Uranium-235 by isotope enrichment with centrifuges.

The Geneva Interim Agreement, announced in November, would stop Iran’s reactor construction — at least according to the White House press release. Iran does not share this interpretation. Negotiations are continuing in Vienna to try to settle this dispute.

Meanwhile, Israel, not bound by the Geneva Agreement, may decide to bomb the Arak reactor and eliminate one sure route for Iran to gain a nuclear weapon.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Russian city of Volgograd (formerly known as Stalingrad) has been the site of carnage twice in 24 hours, as suicide bombers – believed to be separatists from the North Caucasus – attacked a train station and then a bus. Volgograd has already been a target once before this year, when a female suicide bomber blew up a bus in October.

With the Sochi Games just weeks away, the security threat is a concern – to put it mildly. Given the relative proximity of Volgograd to Sochi, the attacks would appear to support the theory that security at the Winter Olympic host city remains tight.…  Seguir leyendo »

The horror of the attacks in the city of Volgograd is shocking, even by Russia’s grim standards. We have become accustomed to terrorists’ indiscriminate choice of victims and locations. We have even become accustomed to the lethal choreography of simultaneous attacks.

But in Volgograd the bombers cold-bloodedly returned on Monday, 24 hours after Sunday’s attack and two months after another attack in the same city, killing a further 14 people on top of the 23 earlier victims. They are not just organised and merciless, but horribly confident too.

The security services were on high alert. Ordinary citizens were looking for suspicious behaviour.…  Seguir leyendo »