Viernes, 24 de octubre de 2014

No shortcuts to Middle East peace

Western pressure on Israel and praise for Palestine only delays resolution

The West appears to be losing patience for the Arab-Israeli conflict. Some are looking for shortcuts, including many undoubtedly well-intentioned British members of Parliament who recently called for the recognition of Palestine as a state. At the same time, many in the West are escalating their critical rhetoric against Israel, and regrettably, against Israel alone.

Perhaps this focus is understandable. Israel is rightfully seen (and sees itself) as part of the West, as the only democratic “responsible adult” in the area. The Palestinians are seen as children — guiltless and unaccountable — at once victims of and heirs to the Arab world’s tradition of political irresponsibility.…  Seguir leyendo »

Defining terrorism has practical implications because formally certifying an act of violence as terrorist has important consequences in U.S. law.

Terrorism suspects can be held longer than criminal suspects after arrest without an indictment. They can be interrogated without a lawyer present. They receive longer prison sentences. “Terrorist inmates” are subject to many extra restrictions, known as Special Administrative Measures, or SAMs. The “Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002” gives corporate victims of terrorism special breaks (it is currently up for renewal) and protects owners of buildings from certain lawsuits. When terrorism is invoked, families of victims, such as those of the 2009 Fort Hood, Texas, attack, win extra benefits such as tax breaks, life insurance and combat-related pay.…  Seguir leyendo »

The traffic on the road to Tuz Khurmato, a town about an hour south of Kirkuk, was light on a recent morning when we set out to meet senior officials from the Kurdish security forces, the pesh merga. Their fortified bases, lean-tos flying various Shiite militia flags and makeshift camps for displaced families dotted the side of the highway. Official Iraqi security forces were nowhere to be seen, even at checkpoints.

Inside a dusty office at the pesh merga base, a field commander relayed what he had seen during recent weeks of fighting. “They don’t respect human rights, they arrest anyone,” he said.…  Seguir leyendo »

It is an unusually mild day in Cairo for late September, but the young man perspires throughout our interview. He recounts the nightmares that continue months after he was released from prison, where he was detained for more than a month on unfounded accusations of illegally participating in a demonstration. Later that afternoon, arriving at the offices of a human rights organization, I trade glances with a thuggish man planted at a desk near the door to look over everyone who comes and goes. Inside, staff members describe in haunting terms the pressures they feel from heightened government surveillance and threats.…  Seguir leyendo »

Another round of nuclear talks ended late Thursday in Vienna. Nothing good, bad or even surprising has publicly emerged from the two-day talks between Iran and the P5+1 countries.

Given the overall trajectory of the nuclear talks in recent months — to external viewers a dreary process of back and forth, bluster and stalling despite a shared desire to continue talking — two outcomes appear more or less certain.

First, the much-anticipated November 24 deadline for a permanent deal will not be met.

Second, the talks will continue and the negotiating teams need to decide whether they need three months, six months — or any other length of time — to try to reach a final deal.…  Seguir leyendo »

As Tunisia prepares to hold its second free and fair election on Sunday — and continues its transition from despotism to democracy — my country offers a stark contrast to the extremes of terrorism and military intervention seen elsewhere in the region. Tunisia stands as proof that the dream of democracy that spurred the Arab Spring lives on.

Despite what some believe, there is no “Arab exception” to democracy, nor is there any inherent contradiction between democracy and Islam. The Middle East can indeed achieve stability and peace through a process of democratic reconciliation and consensus. But the road will be long and involves the challenging work of building institutions, healing old wounds and forging compromise around shared values.…  Seguir leyendo »

Where are the lost boys of Mexico? That’s what many people, in that country and around the world, want to know. The answer could say much about the new narrative that has been pushed about the country.

This week, Jesus Murillo Karam, Mexico’s attorney general, issued arrest warrants for three people in connection with a shocking case that has captured the attention of the entire country: the disappearance of 43 students, who went missing after being confronted by police. More than four dozen people have been arrested, including police officers, local officials and members of a drug gang.

For residents of the small town of Iguala, which lies 120 miles southwest of Mexico City, the nightmare began on September 26 — just 10 days after the festivities celebrating Mexico’s Independence Day.…  Seguir leyendo »

Terrorismo y medios de comunicación son términos vinculados umbilicalmente desde hace mucho tiempo, tanto como el transcurrido desde que en 1876 los anarquistas Errico Malatesta y Carlo Cafiero sostuvieran que la palabra no era suficiente para conmover a la sociedad, resultando la acción – desde manifestaciones hasta atentados, pasando por motines, alzamientos o secuestros- como el medio de propaganda más efectivo para penetrar hasta las capas sociales más profundas y atraerlas a la causa revolucionaria. Esta simbiosis ha generado, de todos es sabido, una permanente tensión entre el deber de lo medios de difundir las noticias y los ineluctables réditos que esa difusión genera a favor de los terroristas.…  Seguir leyendo »

Here in Canada’s capital, Parliament Hill is about as majestic as public spaces get. The Parliament buildings, somber and gothic, push into the sky above the river. An expanse of green lawn slopes down to Wellington Street with its tourists and a hot dog vendor. The whole place would be imposing if the locals treated it with deference. But we don’t.

There’s no security stopping pedestrians from getting onto the hill. On any given day you’re likely to find people on the lawn playing soccer or doing yoga. There are almost always protesters of some sort — usually polite and not that obtrusive.…  Seguir leyendo »

The U.S. has done enough damage in the Middle East

Earlier this month, U.S. President Barack Obama’s National Security Adviser Susan Rice was questioned on NBC television about the American administration’s war strategy concerning the Islamic State, the aggressive and messianic self-proclaimed New Islamic Caliphate. Does a strategy exist? she was initially asked, since there are, to put it mildly, doubters among the crowd.

She firmly replied that there is indeed a strategy, which was stated by the president, which is to deter and ultimately “destroy” the Islamic State.

However, to destroy the Islamic State is not a strategy; it is an objective. The strategy is what gets the new international coalition (a doubtful quantity thus far) formed by the U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

Sweden’s chase for what is widely suspected to be a submerged Russian submarine operating within its territorial waters can’t help but remind older Swedes of the fact that, during the Cold War, Swedish waters were thought to be regularly covertly probed by submarines belonging to the Soviet Union.

Indeed, back in 1981, the «Whiskey on the Rocks» incident saw a Soviet attack submarine carrying nuclear-tipped torpedoes run aground on the shoals not far from the Swedish naval base at Karlskrona.

Fast forward more than three decades, and Vladimir Putin’s Russia is by no means the threat — materially or ideologically — that the Soviet Union was during the Cold War.…  Seguir leyendo »

There is no word more reviled in America than «Ebola,» especially since the death of Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian national who had traveled to Dallas. But as Ebola has spread, it has become increasingly clear that if there is to be any chance of stopping the disease — not only here in America, but across the world — then the United States must lead through inspiring example.

Unfortunately, the response of some institutions that should know better has been anything but inspiring.

First, this idea of a travel ban. Amidst numerous calls for a ban on air travel to and from West Africa, including from Texas Gov.…  Seguir leyendo »

Una esencial continuidad

En el primer acto de entrega de los Premios Príncipe de Asturias, en 1981, el filósofo José Ferrater Mora expresó en su discurso en el teatro Campoamor de Oviedo la vocación de permanencia con la que nacían la Fundación y los premios: «No es este un acto azaroso, casual, aislado, irrepetible –afirmó–. Todo lo contrario, es un acto que va a reiterarse año tras año». Tras subrayar, siguiendo a Eugenio d’Ors, la continuidad como uno de los valores primordiales de la vida de un país en general y de su vida intelectual en particular, Ferrater Mora afirmó que la Fundación no buscaba «el ramalazo súbito, el capricho arbitrario, sino la paciente y persistente labor de velar sin tregua por lo que el Siglo de las Luces llamaba el progreso de las ciencias y las artes».…  Seguir leyendo »

Las cuentas del cuento

La dignidad de las palabras es la primera víctima del nacionalismo. Los nacionalistas han puesto en circulación expresiones que nada significan (lengua propia, encaje, hecho diferencial, singularidad, desafección), que se usan en sentido contrario al debido (reconocimiento, discriminación positiva, democracia, cohesión, igualdad) o, simplemente, que, bien pensadas, resultan contradictorias (programa —nacionalista— de construcción nacional, federalismo asimétrico, golpes de Estado del Tribunal Constitucional).

Cuando las palabras impiden entender las cosas, toca abandonarlas. Los problemas resultado de preguntas incorrectas son irresolubles. Los científicos no determinaron la naturaleza del flogisto, el peso del calórico o la densidad del éter. Se limitaron a mostrar el desafuero de los marcos conceptuales que sostenían tales “sustancias”.…  Seguir leyendo »

El Estado de derecho asoma en China con una nueva impronta. Claro está que no es la primera vez que esto ocurre y está por ver que se dote de auténtico contenido.

A priori, su invocación como asunto central de la sesión de otoño del Comité Central del Partido Comunista Chino (PCCh) podría mostrarnos un sincero afán de las autoridades por poner coto al abuso de poder, la injusticia, la arbitrariedad y la ausencia de moralidad.

Podríamos interpretar esta apuesta como un nuevo intento de orientar el rumbo de un régimen postotalitario interponiendo diques contra una evolución más nacionalista y populista, cuya significación estratégica y económica constituye un obstáculo creciente para el avance de la democracia y el derecho.…  Seguir leyendo »

En Cien años de soledad,que es una novela más política de lo que se suele recordar, los conservadores y los liberales libran una formidable guerra. Después de muchas batallas, el coronel Aureliano Buendía, jefe militar de los liberales, recibe a los representantes políticos de su propio partido, que han estado negociando la paz con el Gobierno conservador y que le traen una lista de demandas: “Pedían, en primer término, renunciar a la revisión de los títulos de propiedad de la tierra para recuperar el apoyo de los terratenientes liberales. Pedían, en segundo término, renunciar a la lucha contra la influencia clerical para obtener el respaldo del pueblo católico.…  Seguir leyendo »

En estas elecciones, el nombre de Brasil y de quién deberá gobernarlo en los próximos cuatro años ha sido pronunciado más que nunca. ¿De quién es, sin embargo, este país de más de 200 millones de habitantes, corazón del continente y en donde, hasta el domingo, tendrán puestos los ojos buena parte del mundo?

¿Es de los políticos que se arrogan a veces su derecho de propiedad? ¿Es del Gobierno que administra y a veces saquea sus riquezas para su provecho personal o de grupo? ¿Es de los bancos y empresas? ¿De las fuerzas del orden? ¿De los jueces? No. Brasil no tiene dueño.…  Seguir leyendo »

Un cuarto de siglo después

El Director del nuevo periódico había descrito, en la carta publicada en el primer número el día 23 de octubre de 1989, los carriles ideológicos por los que deberíamos circular. Así decía que «la democracia española precisa de un profundo impulso regeneracionista que restituya a los ciudadanos el ejercicio práctico de la soberanía popular…».

Al día siguiente, en el primer artículo de la Tribuna de opinión, un miembro del Consejo Editorial profundizaba más en esta idea, según se traslucía de su título: La Constitución y su reforma. En efecto, se proponía allí, a los diez años de vigencia de la Constitución, que no sólo era conveniente sino también necesario modificar algunos puntos concretos de la Carta Magna.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ernst Barlach was one of Germany’s great Expressionist artists of the early 20th century. A virulent nationalist in the run-up to World War I, Barlach found that his experience of the Western Front stripped him of his jingoism. Much of his subsequent work explored the sorrow and suffering that he saw as the human condition.

In 1927, he created for the cathedral in Güstrow, a small town north of Berlin, a war memorial called Der Schwebende (“the Floating One”). The sculpture featured a figure with a haunted, grief-stricken face cast in bronze and suspended from the ceiling, as if hovering, angel-like, over the fields of Flanders.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Mirage of the ‘New Egypt’

The Pyramids are face-lift flawless, the grass is almost neon bright and even the air itself appears to have been retouched. This portrait of perfection, an ad introducing a “New Egypt: Peace, Prosperity & Growth,” was posted last month in Times Square.

What, exactly, is the “New Egypt”? Three very different answers appeared on three different billboards over three recent weeks.

On Sept. 24, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi addressed the United Nations General Assembly in New York. To coincide with his visit, advertisements like the one in Times Square went up across the city.

But if you look closer, the “New Egypt” in these ads is as much an illusion as Mr.…  Seguir leyendo »