Martes, 12 de agosto de 2014

Democracy’s dangerous descent in Hungary

The famed Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal often said, “Where democracy is strong, it is good for Jews; where it is weak, it is bad for Jews.” Today, 100,000 Jews in Hungary are worried about their future.

Last week, the mayor of a small town in eastern Hungary, presided over the hanging in effigy of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former President Shimon Peres, saying that he did it to protest “the efforts of Freemason Jews to rule the world.” While the Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the “lynching,” the reality is that this action occurred in a country where anti-Semitism is increasingly legitimized in word and deed by Hungary’s political leadership.…  Seguir leyendo »

Russians are about to lose access to virtually all food imported from the West — which is to say, a significant portion of the food that Russians consume. President Vladimir Putin ordered the ban on imports to retaliate against Western countries that imposed economic sanctions against Russia after the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine. More than anything that has happened this year — more than the annexation of Crimea, more than the latest crop of repressive laws passed by the parliament and more than the West’s sanctions — the food ban marks a turning point for Russia.…  Seguir leyendo »

U.S. F/A-18 fighter jets take off for mission in Iraq from the flight deck of the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush, in the Persian Gulf, Monday, Aug. 11, 2014. U.S. military officials said American fighter aircraft struck and destroyed several vehicles Sunday that were part of an Islamic State group convoy moving to attack Kurdish forces defending the northeastern Iraqi city of Irbil. (Hasan Jamali/AP)

It would be wrong to view President Obama’s decision to order airstrikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and to give weapons to Kurdish fighters as a continuation of the war in Iraq. It is more accurate to see it as a mission to prevent a repetition of the war in Afghanistan. We have a chance to stop the Islamic State before it creates a sanctuary in Iraq and Syria that it could use to strike the United States, just as al-Qaeda used its sanctuary in Afghanistan to kill thousands of Americans on Sept. 11, 2001. That, to his credit, is what the president has begun to do.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Obama's decision to target militants from ISIS -- which is now calling itself the "Islamic State" or "IS" -- operating in Iraq comes as a huge relief to the Iranians. Officials in Tehran have been panic stricken since ISIS forces overran the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on June 10.

All political factions in Tehran would like to see ISIS suffer and its latest advances rolled back. At the same time, contradictory statements made in Tehran make it clear that the Iranian authorities are divided about the implications of the American military's return to Iraq.

The moderates, the group of people associated with President Hassan Rouhani's presidential administration, are nudging toward an open admission that American military operations in Iraq compliment Tehran's policy goals.…  Seguir leyendo »

Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem are a married couple best known for their ability to pretend to be other people, a talent for which they are paid millions. I wonder, then, who they were trying to be when they wrote an open letter published in the Spanish press, denouncing Israel’s actions in Gaza. Political leaders? Aid workers? Saints who walk among us?

“Gaza is living through horror these days, besieged and attacked by land, sea and air,” they explained in last month’s missive, which was co-signed by a host of Spanish cultural figures including the director Pedro Almodóvar. “Palestinians’ homes are being destroyed, they are being denied water, electricity [and] free movement to their hospitals, schools and fields while the international community does nothing.”…  Seguir leyendo »

If there has been one unifying theme in the encomia to the late Robin Williams, apart from his comic genius and his dramatic, it is that he was slightly unknowable.

Always the performer, his juggernaut riffs were unstoppable; Alexei Sayle told the Today programme on Radio 4 that once, when Wiliams wanted to perform an impromptu set at The Comedy Store and was only allotted 15 minutes, he first manically offered to buy the club, and when told this wouldn’t be possible, insisted on finishing the remainder 45 minutes of his set in the corridor to an audience of one (Sayle).…  Seguir leyendo »

The four Chinese characters that heralded President Xi Jinping’s war against corruption in a speech by a political ally in December 2011 can easily lose impact in translation. “Life-and-death struggle,” while idiomatic in English, is too passive. “Do-or-die” lacks the necessary intent.

“The crude, word-for-word translation better captures the essence,” said Charles Qin, a professional translator. “You die, I live.”

At first glance, the July 29 statement that Zhou Yongkang, a former security chief with motley skin and toad-like jowls, was under investigation was hardly news at all. There had been more than 18 months of furious speculation as cronies, relatives and then Mr.…  Seguir leyendo »

While the world’s attention has been mainly focused on the war in Gaza, the deteriorating situation in eastern Ukraine, and the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the Islamic State’s campaign of terror in both Syria and Iraq has continued. In Syria, fighting between ISIS and Bashar Assad’s forces has led to some of the bloodiest days of the conflict so far.

In Iraq, things seemed to have reached a stalemate, with ISIS’s rapid advance through the country stopped short of Baghdad and the predominantly Shiite areas of southern Iraq. All the same, more than 1,700 Iraqis were killed in July, making it one of the deadliest months since the height of the Iraq war.…  Seguir leyendo »

GOING NORTH: Central American migrants get aboard the cargo train they call “the beast” in southern Mexico in an attempt to reach the Mexico-U.S. border last month. ELIZABETH RUIZ / AFP/Getty Images

For the citizens of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, the crisis prompted by the surge of children from Latin America coming across the U.S. border is not simply an immigration story. It is about more than unemployment, poverty, gang violence and the other forces that split families and lead parents to make desperate decisions.

As people from these countries repeatedly tell me, the crisis comes down to this: What will it take for my homeland to become a place where I can safely live, work and raise my children?

Fifteen years ago, people in my native Colombia asked the same painful question.…  Seguir leyendo »

A rally for peace in Gaza, in Santiago, Chile. Photograph: Ivan Alvarado/Reuters

On this bloody international battlefield over truth, where thousands of Palestinians now die, Israel has lost. It is in possession of the most powerful and entrenched lobby in America that terrorises its now abject political class – most recently frightening the senate into unanimously voting in favour of its current aggression. In Britain, the BBC and a prime minister that have shamed and revolted the citizens they serve. It has tireless advocates and apologists manning editorial desks and television producers’ offices. It is ranked among the world’s top military powers.

Yet with all of this, it has lost, and the Palestinian cause has been made that much stronger.…  Seguir leyendo »

Most of the shock that resounds after hearing that Robin Williams died Monday comes from its utter implausibility. How could Robin Williams, of all people, just stop breathing, moving and, most of all, talking?

It's as though we've been told the moon spun out of orbit or that water no longer boiled, or froze, at the proper temperature. If Robin Williams is dead, then light no longer refracts, atoms no longer bond and gravity has gone out of business.

Yes. It's that implausible.

For many of us over the last 40 years or so, Robin Williams was an irresistible force of nature that nothing, not even the demons in his head or the sometimes regrettable consequences of their actions, could stop.…  Seguir leyendo »

What do President Obama's decision to authorize airstrikes against the Sunni militants of the Islamic State and his previous commitment to send American military advisors and trainers back into Iraq have to do with his "pivot" to Asia? Everything and nothing.

Nothing in the sense that the battle in Iraq has little bearing today on what China might do in the South China Sea tomorrow. But everything in the sense that the underlying assumption that drove Obama to pivot away from the Middle East toward Asia — to "rebalance," as it was later called — is very much in question.

When the rebalance toward Asia was officially confirmed as administration policy in January 2012 by the Pentagon's release of a new strategic policy guidance, the underlying impetus was clear: Defense resources could no longer support the long-standing U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

La Tercera Vía

Vivimos un año que de un modo u otro será memorable en las historias de España y de Cataluña: dentro de poco más de un mes se va a conmemorar el tercer centenario de la caída de Barcelona ante las tropas borbónicas, cruento episodio que puso fin a la Guerra de Sucesión en la Península (Mallorca tardaría casi un año más en rendirse). Es un episodio que los nacionalistas catalanes han convertido en simbólico de la pretendida victimización que Cataluña habría sufrido a manos del resto de España. No importa que haya muy poco de cierto en todo este simbolismo, y que la caída de Barcelona marcara el inicio del brillante crecimiento secular de la sociedad catalana, que la hizo situarse a la cabeza de España en tantos aspectos hasta mediados del siglo XX, y del que tanto y tan justamente se ufanan los hijos de esa tierra y los de España en general.…  Seguir leyendo »

Con el lastre de una tasa de paro juvenil del 53,1%, la segunda peor de Europa, España se presenta debilitada para afrontar el futuro. El problema del desempleo juvenil va más allá de la generación que lo sufre; abarca a todo el país y hasta que no seamos conscientes de que se trata de un problema que nos afecta a todos, será difícil combatirlo. Que uno de cada dos jóvenes se encuentre en esta situación merma las posibilidades de desarrollo de la sociedad.

Según datos del Eurofound, España paga una gran factura (alrededor del 1,47% del PIB) por el elevado porcentaje de jóvenes que ni estudian ni trabajan.…  Seguir leyendo »

Gaza, un conflicto enquistado

También esta vez habrá tregua, por supuesto. Pero para evitar desengaños posteriores, conviene tener claro ya desde ahora que, sean cuales sean sus condiciones, no servirá para asentar la paz en Palestina. Peor aún, será el germen del siguiente brote de violencia al que solo falta ponerle fecha. A esta pesimista conclusión se llega no por aplicación de ningún tipo de determinismo que condene a palestinos e israelíes a vivir en eterna confrontación, sino por simple destilación de unas pautas de comportamiento que han vuelto a ponerse de manifiesto con ocasión de la actual tragedia de Gaza y que se resumen en falta de voluntad (para unos) y de capacidad (para otros) para salirse de los raíles que explican las seis guerras y las dos Intifadas registradas desde hace 67 años.…  Seguir leyendo »

Obama tiene un dilema importante en política exterior: ¿son aún los Estados Unidos la “nación indispensable” o el concepto/doctrina impulsado por Clinton y Madeleine Albright comienza a diluirse? Disyuntiva exacerbada por dos hechos recientes. Uno, la encuesta NYT/CBS de junio, en la que el 58% desaprueba el liderazgo del presidente (incluido un tercio de los demócratas) y expresa la profunda preocupación de que una mayor implicación en Irak podría conducir a otro conflicto largo y costoso. Por si fuera poco, tres cuartas partes de los encuestados manifestaban que la larga guerra no compensaba los elevados costes humanos y materiales. Ya un sondeo Pew de otoño de 2013 indicaba que —por primera vez desde 1964— la mayoría estimaba que Washington debe preocuparse de sus propios asuntos internacionales y dejar al resto de países que se las compongan como puedan.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ecos del inicio del Universo

El pasado 17 de marzo saltó a los titulares de las noticias el descubrimiento de ondas gravitatorias producidas en las primeras fracciones de segundo de nuestro universo. Se trata de un descubrimiento muy relevante, esperado desde hacía años –diferente, pues, de descubrimientos inesperados, como lo fue el de la aceleración de la expansión cósmica, de 1988 (premio Nobel de 2011)–. Tal como ocurre cada vez que se suscitan temas relacionados con los orígenes, se plantean cuestiones técnicas –¿cómo y dónde se ha efectuado el descubrimiento?–, científicas –¿qué novedades aporta y qué importancia tienen?–, filosóficas –¿qué nos dice sobre la existencia del universo y nuestra relación con el mismo?–…  Seguir leyendo »

La victoria de Recep Tayyip Erdogan, primer ministro de Turquía durante los últimos 11 años y una figura cada vez más autoritaria y polarizadora, en la primera ronda de las primeras elecciones presidenciales por voto popular del país, celebradas el domingo pasado, constituye un importante punto de inflexión en la vida política de un país que es candidato al ingreso en la Unión Europea desde octubre de 2005.

Nadie esperaba, y mucho menos el arrogante Erdogan, que perdiese ante Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, el desconocido ex secretario general de la Organización para la Cooperación Islámica, que era el candidato conjunto del Partido Popular Republicano, de centro izquierda, y del derechista Partido de Acción Nacionalista (incondicionales de la vieja guardia laica a ultranza).…  Seguir leyendo »

¿Qué tienen en común Can Vies y la Via Catalana? Más de lo que parece. No existen ideas políticas sin un espacio al cual sean referibles estas, ni espacios o principios espaciales a los que no correspondan ideas políticas. Esta afirmación de Carl Schmitt abre una vía de análisis en la cuestión política hasta ahora poco explorada: el desbordamiento de los espacios tradicionales de la democracia (municipio, provincia y Estado) por nuevos impulsos políticos.

El franquismo como sistema político tenía claramente definido sus espacios. Estructurado sobre el concepto de “entidades naturales”, la ley de Principios del Movimiento Nacional de 1958 los definía de manera clara: la familia, el municipio y el sindicato.…  Seguir leyendo »

El presidente de los Estados Unidos, Barack Obama, calificó el derribo del vuelo 17 de Malaysia Airlines como un “ultraje de proporciones indescriptibles”, mientras que el presidente ruso, Vladímir Putin, lo llamó “accidente” y “terrible tragedia”. El presidente ucraniano, Petró Poroshenko, lo categorizó como “acto de terrorismo”, y el primer ministro de Malasia, Najib Razak, dijo que fue un “acto inhumano, incivilizado, violento e irresponsable”.

Todas estas descripciones pueden ser exactas, pero la carga retórica y las implicaciones legales de cada una son diferentes. Ya es tiempo de que los gobiernos y organismos internacionales califiquen el ataque al MH17 como probable crimen de guerra.…  Seguir leyendo »