Lunes, 9 de marzo de 2015

In the past eight months, ISIS has seeded itself in some dozen countries around the globe. Indicative of this was the announcement on Saturday that the Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram had pledged its “allegiance to the Caliph of the Muslims,” ISIS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi.

The global spread of ISIS raises key questions about whether these new affiliates signal an intensification of the threat of terror. It also has important implications for the debate in Congress over Obama’s request for a new authorization to fight ISIS.

Lt. Col. Michael Waltz, a U.S. Special Forces reserve officer who has just returned to the States after advising the Nigerian Ministry of Defence in its fight against Boko Haram, told me, “So far the pledge (to ISIS) seems to be legit.”

Waltz says there is some debate about the timing of the pledge, because Boko Haram has recently come under effective attacks by Nigerian forces allied with the armies of neighboring African countries that are also threatened by the group: “Some folks in the region are saying it’s a sign of desperation, as the regional offensive by Nigeria and its neighbors has knocked Boko Haram on its heels and out of a number of its sanctuaries.…  Seguir leyendo »

Confucius said: “Study the past if you would define the future.” In Iraq, the past is glorious and long.

This is where the world’s first cities were built and where writing and organized government were first developed more than 5,000 years ago. This is the land that gave the world its first great literary work — the Epic of Gilgamesh, king of the city of Uruk — over 1,000 years before Homer, and over 2,000 years before Christ.

ISIS, like so many iconoclastic extremist groups through history, seeks to destroy the record of the past. In the past week, video has circulated showing neatly dressed figures wielding rather new-looking sledgehammers and destroying archaeological objects in the Mosul Museum.…  Seguir leyendo »

Threats from Islamic extremists

The threats to peace from Putin’s Russia are paralleled by the instability in the Middle East caused largely by Islamic extremism, which poses a particular menace to democracy and human rights. The barbaric murder of two Japanese hostages underlines the dangers to all civilized societies.

The Islamic State group has largely taken over from al-Qaida as the leading exponent of Islamic extremism, although there are other Islamic extremist organizations such as Boko Haram in Nigeria and al Shabaab in Somalia and Kenya, which pose serious threats to peace and human rights.

The civil war in Syria, which has led to over 100,000 deaths and many millions of refugees, provided fertile ground for extremists.…  Seguir leyendo »

On March 3, Washington witnessed political theater at its most distasteful. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came not to praise President Barack Obama but to bury a nuclear deal with Iran.

The political party that prides itself on being more patriotic than its rival produced the spectacle of genuflecting to a foreign leader who used his podium in the U.S. Congress to criticize the U.S. president. Extraordinary!

The rest of the world shook its head in collective disbelief. History is littered with the corpses of those who were too clever by half for their own good.

Netanyahu presumably intended his speech to harden U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

A demoralizing investigation on performance-enhancing substances in cycling has found that the sport’s international governing bodies have largely ignored anti-doping efforts and shielded athletes from testing positive. This may not be a huge surprise, but the breadth of the problem as disclosed is still pretty shocking.

The 227-page report by the Cycling Independent Reform Commission concludes that for years, the International Cycling Union ignored widespread doping, particularly in regard to Lance Armstrong, to protect the sport’s reputation and maintain its growth. It states:

The allegations and review of UCI’s anti-doping programme reveal that decisions taken by UCI leadership in the past have undermined anti-doping efforts: examples range from adopting an attitude that prioritised a clean image and sought to contain the doping problem, to disregarding the rules and giving preferential status to high profile athletes, to publicly criticising whistleblowers and engaging in personal disputes with other stakeholders.…  Seguir leyendo »

CIA director John Brennan Photo illustration: DonkeyHotey / Flickr via Creative Commons

Successful intelligence gathering through interrogation and other forms of human interaction by conventional means can be – and more often than not are – very successful. But, even though interrogation by less conventional methods might get glorified in popular culture – in television dramas like Law and Order: Criminal Intent, 24 and The Closer and movies like Zero Dark Thirty – torture and the mistreatment of detainees in the custody of intelligence personnel is, was and shall continue to be unethical and morally wrong. Under US law, torture and mistreatment of detainees is also very illegal.

Even the most junior level intelligence officials know that this is, and has been, the case for decades.…  Seguir leyendo »

Para valorar con objetividad las diferencias y afinidades entre partidos lo mejor es atenerse a los hechos, valorar a los políticos por lo que hacen y no por lo que dicen. Me atendré pues a hechos políticos objetivos —no opinables— para señalar 10 diferencias significativas entre UPyD y Ciudadanos.

Ciudadanos nació en 2005 y lleva desde 2006 en el Parlamento de Cataluña. Intentó entrar en el Parlamento nacional en 2008 y fracasó. Intentó entrar en la Comunidad y en el Ayuntamiento de Madrid en 2011 y fracasó. Intentó entrar en el Parlamento Europeo en 2009 y fracasó. UPyD nació en 2007.…  Seguir leyendo »

As an American editorial cartoonist in New York City, my life is relatively safe. I love attending cartoonists’ conferences in far-flung locales and meeting colleagues from around the world. Even if we don’t share a spoken language, we share a visual language, and are bound by a passion for our profession.

It is humbling that many of my colleagues are in danger simply because of the work they do. This was made all too clear in January, when Muslim extremists attacked the Paris office of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, killing 12 people, including the top editor and several cartoonists.…  Seguir leyendo »

This country, the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation, has been relatively untouched by Islamist terror attacks since the bombing of two Western hotels here in the capital in 2009. But its future is by no means assured.

While some extremist groups have been contained, Indonesia is not immune to threats from the Islamic State, now menacing the Middle East and North Africa. If and when the self-proclaimed caliphate decides to spread its wings to Southeast Asia, Indonesia, where Muslims make up 90 percent of the country’s 250 million people, is particularly vulnerable.

Government officials here believe that as many as 200 Indonesians have gone to Syria to fight with ISIS.…  Seguir leyendo »

El nuevo rostro del terrorismo

La reciente detención de varias personas por actividades de reclutamiento y adoctrinamiento relacionadas con el Estado Islámico ha vuelto a situar en el centro de la noticia el terrorismo yihadista, un problema que ha cobrado una dimensión especialmente grave en los últimos tiempos y que lleva camino de convertirse en la mayor amenaza para nuestra libertad y nuestra seguridad. Parece obligado preguntarse, a punto de cumplirse 11 años de los atentados de Madrid, si el terrorismo al que hoy nos enfrentamos es el mismo, si sus riesgos son similares, si sus objetivos persisten, si se ha intensificado la amenaza, si tenemos las herramientas suficientes para combatirlo y si estamos en condiciones de evitar que se repita aquella masacre.…  Seguir leyendo »

An undated image of the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud. REUTERS TV/Files

What are the benefits of cruelty? This question occurred to me after forcing myself to watch some of the slickly produced propaganda videos of the group that calls itself the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL). The now-infamous productions often show the cruel killing of helpless captives in the most horrifying ways imaginable. It’s hard not to wonder about the intent of the filmmakers. It’s also hard not to wonder who the target audience is.

I also watched recent video of ISIS members in a museum smashing (alleged) archaeological relics from the very ancient Mesopotamian past. I felt a certain sense of historical irony while doing so.…  Seguir leyendo »

Debemos limpiar nuestras estanterías

Como musulmanes, nuestra primera y lógica reacción ante las atrocidades cometidas en nombre de nuestra región es de incredulidad, indignación y un impulso natural de distanciarnos de sus autores. “Estos actos salvajes”, “ese John el yihadista” —el tristemente famoso verdugo de los rehenes del Estado Islámico (EI), identificado recientemente como el londinense Mohamed Emwazi— “no tienen nada que ver con el islam”, exclamamos. Aunque esta actitud es comprensible, resulta sospechosa desde el punto de vista intelectual y es completamente irresponsable. ¿Estaría alguien de acuerdo si se dijera que las Cruzadas no tuvieron “nada que ver” con el cristianismo? La verdad, hay demasiados entre nosotros que parecen indignarse más por unas caricaturas de un periódico que, en definitiva, carecen de importancia, que por la abominable caricatura que pintan de nuestra religión grupos como el EI y Boko Haram.…  Seguir leyendo »

Newly mobilized Ukrainian paratroopers fire a machine gun during a military drill near Zhytomyr, March 6, 2015. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

When Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Berlin on Thursday, he heaped praise on his hosts: “At no time in my experience has the relationship with Germany and the United States covered more issues around the world, covered them in a deeper fashion and in a more collaborative fashion than we’re doing today. It is truly extraordinary.” President Barack Obama is especially grateful for his partnership with Chancellor Angela Merkel, Blinken added.

Blinken’s effusiveness went beyond diplomatic protocol. Ready or not, Merkel has become the unlikely leader of the pro-Ukrainian cause. The war in Ukraine followed a long chain of unintended consequences, of which Germany’s new role may be the most surprising.…  Seguir leyendo »

El tira y afloja entre Atenas y Bruselas tiene proyecciones significativas en otras capitales más allá de la Unión Europea. La alusión a Pekín —al igual que Moscú— como una alternativa de financiamiento de las depauperadas arcas griegas se antoja, no obstante, complicada. Ello a pesar de que no es precisamente liquidez lo que falta en las cuentas chinas y que Grecia ha ganado en importancia estratégica para China de forma notable en los últimos años. A la gratitud por la solidaridad griega en la evacuación de sus ciudadanos durante la guerra contra Gadafi en Libia, por ejemplo, se une su condición de nudo referencial en la Ruta Marítima de la Seda, un proyecto estrella de las nuevas autoridades chinas.…  Seguir leyendo »

Una generación ensimismada

EL «selfie» (autofoto) fue la palabra del año 2014 para Fundeu (Fundación del Español Urgente). Tratándose de una institución que se dedica a estudiar «el español urgente», nada tan urgente como la palabra «selfie». Lo curioso es que, más allá del origen castellano del término, ni siquiera la elección comportaba el rasgo de originalidad. Llegaba tarde, porque ya en 2013 el muy prestigioso Diccionario Oxford había elegido tal vocablo como palabra del año. Y así, el verdadero signo de la Marca España –llegar siempre «tarde al banquete de la civilización»– cumplía una vez más con la tradición, y, además, como gesto modernizador, lo ejecutaba una Fundación dedicada, nada menos, al estudio del español.…  Seguir leyendo »

Raffaele Cantone, a fit and forceful man of 51, was appointed at the end of last year as head of the National Anti-Corruption Authority in Italy. If he fails in this role, it will be a terrifying moment for Italy. If he succeeds, he could transform the continent.

He is the most important man in Europe you have never heard of.

No surprise: Many see Italy as very corrupt. Indeed, according to Transparency International, it’s by far the most corrupt state in Western Europe; and in all of Europe, only Serbia and Montenegro — ex-communist states — have lower scores.

As Cantone has noted, this is a disaster for Italy.…  Seguir leyendo »

La Grecia contemporánea se fundó sobre la base de un malentendido geográfico: nos gusta pensar que es la heredera de la civilización helenística. Esto no es así, pero la crisis actual tiene su origen en este mito. Aunque Grecia no reunía las condiciones necesarias para entrar en la Unión Europea, fue admitida después de 1981, ya que el presidente Valéry Giscard d’Estaing consideraba que no se le podía negar nada a la «madre de la democracia». En 2001, se explotó de nuevo el mismo mito con la entrada prematura en la eurozona, aun cuando el presidente del Banco Central Europeo reconocía que la contabilidad griega estaba trucada; un acceso al euro que permitió al Gobierno griego, a los emprendedores del país y a la clase media, endeudarse a un coste bajo para invertir en bienes inmobiliarios y en los Juegos Olímpicos.…  Seguir leyendo »

El gobierno de Narendra Modi, primer ministro de la India, debe sentirse afortunado. El descenso de los precios mundiales de los productos básicos, liderado por la baja en el precio del petróleo crudo, ha facilitado la gestión del presupuesto nacional. Y en la actualidad, después de que la Oficina Central de Estadísticas (OCE) revisara su metodología de cálculo de los datos del PIB, dicha tarea se ha hecho aún más fácil. De acuerdo con la OCE, como resultado del cambio metodológico, el crecimiento de la producción anual en el segundo trimestre del año 2014 se situó en el 8,2%, muy por encima de la estimación inicial del 5,3%.…  Seguir leyendo »