Europe's Eastern policy, if there ever really was one, is in tatters. It has unraveled at breakneck speed, as Russia moved against Ukraine, effectively annexed part of its territory, and put its smaller neighbor on the brink of war.
Moving from disbelief to dismay to horror, Europeans lost whatever hopes and illusions they may have harbored that Russia was a predictable and cooperative partner. Instead, images are being invoked of the Soviet intervention in Czechoslovakia in 1968 and in Hungary in 1956, and a new Cold War seems fully possible now.
However far-fetched they may seem, these comparisons reflect a frantic search among Western politicians and experts for the underlying causes, rationales and consequences of Russia's actions in Ukraine.… Seguir leyendo »
The Kremlin appears to have bought into the tale it produced for domestic consumption: the notion that Ukraine’s eastern regions drive the country’s economy while its western areas are essentially free riders. But the data show a somewhat different picture.
The Ukrainian government reports that the eastern Donetsk oblast, or region, accounted for 12.4 percent of the country’s gross domestic product in 2013, while five western oblasts (Transcarpathian, Ivano-Frankivsk, Volyn, Ternopil and Lviv) collectively provided only 12.1 percent. Yet Donetsk received about 31 percent of all direct transfers that the central government dispersed among the regions. Last year, companies operating in that region were reimbursed 129 percent of the value-added tax they had paid.… Seguir leyendo »
The outcome of Vladimir Putin’s aggression in the Crimean Peninsula is not yet settled, but one thing is clear: He will have few indigenous allies, should he attempt to occupy and split away Ukraine’s Russian-speaking regions. Instead of stirring pro-Russian sentiments, the actions of his military have advanced national unity among Ukrainian citizens and have led the country’s new leaders to moderate their actions.
Immediately after the collapse of Viktor Yanukovych’s regime, marauding groups of far-right vigilantes threatened local governments and legislators, primarily in central and western Ukraine. In Kiev, a triumphalist post-Yanukovych majority in parliament pressed forward with revolutionary justice, releasing not only jailed political prisoners such as Yulia Tymoshenko but also a range of dodgy ultra-right activists who had been convicted of various criminal charges.… Seguir leyendo »
As things have been going for Ukraine lately, Wednesday could easily go down as the best day yet for the new government of Arseniy Yatsenyuk.
Topped by a high-profile Oval Office visit, it was a welcome distraction from a string of humiliations and provocations from Russia -- not least of which was the creeping occupation of the Crimea.
If Yatsenyuk left Washington dissatisfied, he clearly wasn't showing it. The visit brought promises of $1 billion of desperately needed loan guarantees, an immediate surge in U.S. bilateral assistance that ranges from a doubling of support for the May 25 presidential elections to increased academic scholarships and even Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) for the Ukrainian military.… Seguir leyendo »
Sometimes, the crash site is never found.
In 1972 a Pan Alaska Airways flight with one pilot and three passengers took off from Anchorage bound for Juneau, planning to fly the route under visual flight rules despite bad weather conditions. After one last contact with air traffic controllers, the Cessna was on its way. The plane never reached Juneau. The flight had two congressmen on board -- Hale Boggs of Louisiana and Nicholas Begich of Alaska.
The search for the missing aircraft was intense, encompassing 325,000 square miles of land and sea, with 3,600 flight hours used to look for the wreckage.… Seguir leyendo »
In response to Moscow’s slow-motion annexation of Crimea, some have called for the U.S. and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to place trainers and advisers in Ukraine to act as a “tripwire" against further Russian incursions. The idea is that the risk of setting off a conflict with the West would tame Russian President Vladimir Putin's expansionism. "That is something the most rabid Soviet expansionist never risked," writes the Washington Post's Charles Krauthammer. "Nor would Putin."
Actually, Putin himself has twice risked a direct confrontation between NATO and Russian troops in order to defend against what he perceived as the alliance’s encirclement of Russia.… Seguir leyendo »
This week, as the Ides of March approaches — the March 15 anniversary of the assassination of Julius Caesar, a determined but ultimately fruitless attempt by Roman senators to stop their government from sliding toward dictatorship — the minds of some ancient historians may turn in a seemingly unlikely direction: toward modern North Korea.
The dark and menacing regime of Kim Jong Un seems a long way off from the Augustan "Golden Age" of ancient Rome, an era that produced art and literature still admired today. The differences between the two societies are, of course, vast, but the parallels are nonetheless striking.… Seguir leyendo »
Last week’s meeting between Benjamin Netanyahu and Barack Obama must have been tense. Two days before the meeting, the president publicly accused Israel of more “aggressive settlement construction . . . than we’ve seen in a very long time.” Only hours before the meeting, Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) published a report that cited a massive increase in settlement construction during 2013.
But the president had his facts wrong, and a careful reading of the CBS data proves it. The pace is not “aggressive,” and almost all of the construction took place within the major settlement “blocs” — areas that past negotiations have recognized would remain part of Israel (to be compensated for with land swaps).… Seguir leyendo »
For the nearly 17 years since Hong Kong’s handover from Britain to China in 1997, we Hong Kongers have been dreaming of the genuine democracy that was promised by Beijing. But today our autonomy and the rule of law it buttresses are under threat from the mainland central government.
Infringement on the freedom of the Hong Kong press has been the most recent example of Beijing’s meddling in our affairs. But even more pernicious is an ongoing campaign by the mainland leadership and its local allies to deny Hong Kongers the right to a democratic future, a right that was guaranteed to us in the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration and in our mini-constitution, the Basic Law, which was promulgated in 1990.… Seguir leyendo »
Crimeans vote tomorrow in an illegal "referendum" which will lock them into Russia's embrace. After this vote, and the takeover by Russian troops of the southern Ukraine peninsula, Vladimir Putin will claim he has legal justification for further military build-up and direct armed attack. How do I know? Because of the many painful parallels and lessons from Georgia in 2008.
The invasions of Ukraine and Georgia bear striking similarities, not only because the pattern of the invader stays the same, but also because the two countries share deep historic parallels. Today, when Putin and his cheerleaders in the west claim Russia has legitimate interests in Ukraine – as they justified Russia's aggression in Georgia on the pretext of protecting Russian citizens – they seem to ignore the facts.… Seguir leyendo »
President Obama has decided to get tough with Russia by imposing sanctions and increasing support for Ukraine’s new government. This is a big mistake. This response is based on the same faulty logic that helped precipitate the crisis. Instead of resolving the dispute, it will lead to more trouble.
The White House view, widely shared by Beltway insiders, is that the United States bears no responsibility for causing the current crisis. In their eyes, it’s all President Vladimir V. Putin’s fault — and his motives are illegitimate. This is wrong. Washington played a key role in precipitating this dangerous situation, and Mr.… Seguir leyendo »
While much of the world is focused on the Russian incursion into the Crimean Peninsula of Ukraine, another long-term move may allow the former Soviet navy to dominate U.S. interests to the north: the Arctic.
The rapid melting of the Arctic Ocean is quickly creating a new variety of challenges that have the potential to cause significant global damage if they remain unaddressed.
The Obama administration's policy correctly recognizes that the United States has profoundly important economic and cultural interests in the Arctic but regrettably reveals very little about what the federal government will be doing outside of the science field.… Seguir leyendo »
In one of those peculiar ironies of our self-involvement in the aftermath of the Russian invasion of Crimea, it is the moral authority of the U.S. that is evidently in play. “U.S. Lacks Moral Authority to Criticize Russia for Intervening in Ukraine,” reads the headline on a recent blog post at the Scientific American. Adds Eugene Robinson in the Washington Post: “The United States, frankly, has limited standing to insist on absolute respect for the territorial integrity of sovereign states.”
These critics, along with others from all points on the political spectrum, share a common analytical error: They assume that moral authority comes in but a single variety.… Seguir leyendo »
Now that Russia has occupied the Crimea Peninsula, the blame game has begun. US President Barack Obama has allowed yet another “red line” to be crossed, critics say. And everywhere there is loose talk of a “new Cold War” and the “price” to be paid by the Russian aggressors. But, in this fraught environment, we would do well to recall two historical precedents.
Twenty-five years ago, this month, Hungarian Prime Minister Miklos Nemeth traveled to Moscow to seek Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev’s blessing for a radical experiment. Nemeth, barely 40, had been appointed by the ruling Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party only four months earlier.… Seguir leyendo »
In 1798, after Napoleon Bonaparte occupied Egypt, some local grandees wanted to get close to him, so they gave him six slave girls. At that time, Egyptians were under the influence of the Turkish taste that considered a fulsome figure a prerequisite of feminine beauty. Napoleon was more fired up by Parisian elegance and refused to sleep with any of the women because they were, in his opinion, fat and reeking of fenugreek.
Misinterpreting his aloofness, the Egyptians mocked Napoleon for a lack of virility, contrasting him and his troops unflatteringly with the Egyptian “manhood” of Ali Kaka dolls — figurines with enormous penises.… Seguir leyendo »
La crise de Crimée ne se laisse pas facilement enfermer dans des schémas trop réducteurs en droit international. Une chose paraît certaine : la Fédération de Russie a envahi une partie de la péninsule - ukrainienne - de Crimée. Ceci porte atteinte à l'intégrité territoriale de l'Ukraine, État souverain et indépendant depuis 1991. La Russie s'est du reste engagée à nouveau formellement à en respecter la souveraineté et l'intégrité territoriale, dans le cadre des frontières existantes en 1994, par le « Mémorandum de Budapest » - accord international accompagnant l'accession de l'Ukraine au Traité de non-prolifération des armes nucléaires. Mettant les points sur les 'i', les signataires confirment, dans l'article 2 « leur obligation de s'abstenir de recourir à la menace ou à l'emploi de la force contre l'intégrité territoriale ou l'indépendance politique de l'Ukraine ».… Seguir leyendo »
En inglés el sufijo correspondiente a nuestro -ica (bueno, este guión debería llevar una tilde encima, para indicar que es siempre sufijo de palabras esdrújulas, pero no sé hacerlo con mi Word) tiene una curiosa forma plural, -ics. Es un sufijo que encontramos en palabras que designan campos de estudio o actividad: así, en inglés “física” se dice physics; “aeronáutica”, aeronautics; “dialéctica”, dialectics; “política”, politics. A veces (acrobatics, athletics, dialectics) funcionan como plural (es decir, concuerdan con un verbo en plural: acrobatics are…), tal como uno esperaría; pero muchas veces (geriatrics, aeronautics, macrobiotics) se comportan como un singular (geriatrics is…); y en ocasiones (politics, economics), según la acepción, admiten un doble uso.… Seguir leyendo »
En los últimos días la crisis de Ucrania ha llegado con frecuencia a las primeras páginas de los diarios. La situación no es menos preocupante ahora que cuando estallaron las protestas más violentas a finales de febrero. Esto es así porque las partes se han consolidado en sus posiciones en vez de corregir rápidamente errores estratégicos y, de esta forma, han hecho prácticamente imposible un retorno al statu quo inicial, lo que hubiera sido la solución ideal para todos. Es decir, la vuelta al acuerdo de 21 de febrero entre el Gobierno del hoy depuesto Yanukóvich y la oposición, auspiciado por la Unión Europea, personificada en los ministros de Exteriores de Francia, Alemania y Polonia, y negociación a partir de este punto.… Seguir leyendo »
Hace unos días tomó por segunda vez posesión de la presidencia de Chile Michelle Bachelet, exiliada, hija de militar ultimado por los militares y receptora de la banda presidencial de parte de Isabel Allende, senadora socialista e hija del presidente chileno que se quitó la vida el 11 de septiembre de 1973. Asistieron a la ceremonia un buen número de jefes de Estado de América Latina, perseverando en una costumbre anacrónica medio absurda de celebrar cada traspaso del mando presidencial como si fuera un acontecimiento excepcional, cuando de hecho se trata de la normalidad que siempre hemos anhelado en América Latina.… Seguir leyendo »
Según Cayo Lara, coordinador general de Izquierda Unida, “el PSOE se equivoca en Navarra: si Bildu es legal, ¿por qué no puede gobernar?”.
La respuesta es: sí puede gobernar, pero no con el apoyo de formaciones democráticas mientras conserve actitudes que no lo son.
La derrota de ETA fue política y no solo operativa. En realidad, la derrota política precedió a la otra. La base de ambas fue su fuerte debilitamiento por la acción policial y judicial, que llevó a que la mayoría de sus miembros estuvieran en prisión. Pero la ilegalización de su brazo político y el consenso de los partidos (tras el atentado de la T-4) sobre la negativa a cualquier negociación le dejaron sin estrategia: sin un proyecto al que la violencia pudiera hacer avanzar.… Seguir leyendo »