Jueves, 1 de septiembre de 2016

On the night of July 15, elements of the Turkish military attempted a coup. It was a poorly organized effort that was defeated by a combination of people power, loyal units and serendipity. What made this failed effort remarkable was the putschists’ extreme brutality against civilians who resisted or happened to be in their way. Some 240 people were killed.

I was in Turkey at the time, leading a workshop on Buyukada, an island that is a 45-minute ferry ride from Istanbul. The workshop, which had been planned months earlier in conjunction with an Istanbul-based think tank, brought a small number of experts together to discuss Iran’s relations with its neighbors.…  Seguir leyendo »

The tax battle between Apple and the European Commission can seem abstract, especially if you’ve actually read the EC competition arm’s explanation of why it is demanding Apple pay $14.5 billion of back taxes.

How exactly did Apple create a company with no employees, no office and no country of registry? Why did Ireland rule not once, but twice, that such a setup was legal? Why doesn’t Ireland want to collect the money the European Commission says it should have received in taxes up to 2014?

But beyond these particular questions, there’s a much bigger and more important dynamic playing out.…  Seguir leyendo »

Donald Trump launched his presidential campaign last year by targeting the Mexican government, which he accused of intentionally sending murderers and rapists to the United States. Since then, he has continued to launch attacks, claiming that he will force Mexico to pay for a border wall with the United States and claiming that an American judge’s Mexican heritage prevents him from fairly adjudicating a lawsuit against one of Trump’s businesses.

Against that backdrop of recent history, Trump will sit down with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto on Wednesday. But what does either side stand to gain from it?

Despite their geographic proximity, Mexico and the United States have a political relationship that could be better described as «complex» rather than «close.» Mexico prizes its independent approach to international relations, and has historically diverged from the United States on counternarcotics and trade policies, among others.…  Seguir leyendo »

French exceptionalism is under fire. While the United States sees itself as the Earth’s last, best hope, leading the world for the better, France has long viewed itself as the world’s beacon of enlightenment, illuminating the planet with the sheer power of its conceptual and literary achievements. The irony is that the country which also gave the world Brigitte Bardot and the Vichy-checkered bikini is now fuming over the burkini issue. Our particular vision of secularism is under strain, and it is a source of misunderstanding among those who wonder how the motherland of human rights has become so oppressive.

Stringent secularism, supported to this day by a vast majority of French, stems from the bloody fight at the beginning of the 20th century between the government and the Catholic Church, which eventually lost control over the political, social and educational systems.…  Seguir leyendo »

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s assertion that a 14-year-old Islamic State suicide bomber detonated explosives at a wedding in southern Turkey, killing 54 people including 31 children, is currently in question. What is not in question is that ISIS’ use of children as suicide bombers is surging. The day following the wedding bombing, a 13-year-old ISIS suicide bomber was captured in Kirkuk before he could kill.

As appalling as this reality is, we shouldn’t be surprised by this horrific abuse of children. In its second intifada, Palestinians used child suicide bombers to murder Israeli civilians. During 2000-03, 29 suicide bombings were carried out by Palestinian children under the age of 18, and more than 40 other children were involved in thwarted attacks.…  Seguir leyendo »

“Please don’t kill the child. I want the child. Please give me the child. I am willing to accept any child who would be aborted and to give that child to a married couple who will love the child and be loved by the child.”

These moving words from Mother Teresa’s speech at the National Prayer Breakfast in 1997, a few months before her death, epitomized the deeply personal empathy the world came to admire her for during her lifetime. As we prepare to celebrate her canonization however, it is almost impossible to ignore the contrast between her message of love and life and a political culture that asks Americans to revel in abortion.…  Seguir leyendo »

An Attack on Afghanistan’s Future

On the morning of Aug. 24, I awoke to a nightmare that had become a reality. The American University of Afghanistan — an oasis of intellect, education and optimism in the heart of Kabul — was under attack.

As I frantically emailed and called friends and former colleagues I knew from when I worked at the university and scoured social media and news sites for updates, the gravity of what was happening began to take hold: gunmen opening fire on classrooms, students jumping out of windows to escape. The place I knew as a peaceful community of learning and camaraderie, beloved by the Afghans who work, teach and study there, had become a battlefield.…  Seguir leyendo »

More mass graves are discovered in Iraqi and Syrian territory formerly held by the mass murderers known as Islamic State, and the news no longer shocks anyone. Nor does the fact that most Christians who have not yet fled the region, along with other minorities, live in constant terror of more atrocities and executions.

After the horrors of the Holocaust, we were supposed to live by the credo “Never Forget,” a phrase meant to apply both to past mass killings and to preventing similar actions in the future, whatever the body counts.

That future is now, and we are not living up to that pledge.…  Seguir leyendo »

Well before the Brazilian Senate threw Dilma Rousseff out of office on Wednesday, by a commanding 61-20 vote, even her most fervent supporters sensed her days as head of state were numbered. Yet to judge by the commotion from her loyalist rear guard, you’d think a political comeback were under way.

The suspended president took the stand at her impeachment trial in the Senate chambers on Monday with protesters in the street, an impressive entourage in tow and blessings from Bernie Sanders all the way to Hollywood. “Impeachment is a political death penalty,” Rousseff said.

For all the drama of her trial — the partisan bombast, Rousseff’s 14-hour grilling in the Senate, the tear gas in the streets — political apostates were already negotiating the day after.…  Seguir leyendo »

La inocultable gravedad de la situación venezolana acelera la urgencia de una transición política, que posibilite resolver la crisis humanitaria, restaurar el Estado de Derecho y reconstruir la economía, el tejido social y las normas fundamentales de convivencia democrática. La pregunta es entonces: ¿qué transición es posible en las condiciones imperantes y en función de los objetivos planteados?

Con frecuencia se acude a ciertos casos históricos, como por ejemplo las transiciones a la democracia en España y Chile, para ilustrar los desafíos presentes. Sin embargo, estas analogías deben ser evaluadas con objetividad y una ponderada perspectiva. Por encima de todo, es de fundamental importancia recordar que las transiciones hacia la democracia en España y Chile tuvieron lugar luego de extensos periodos de estabilización política y recuperación económica.…  Seguir leyendo »

Tras la serie de atentados yihadistas perpetrados en suelo europeo en los últimos meses y polémicas recientes como la suscitada en torno al uso del burkini, el debate sobre la integración, y concretamente de la minoría musulmana, ha adquirido unos tintes de urgencia y dramatismo difíciles de obviar. Resulta complicado distinguirlo del debate sobre la seguridad europea y el de la crisis de los refugiados de Oriente Medio y, en conjunto, atañen a la cuestión de la identidad europea. Se percibe cierta fijación respecto del lugar de la comunidad musulmana en Europa, hasta el punto de que cuando se habla de integración, con frecuencia, se piensa automáticamente en aquélla.…  Seguir leyendo »

La figura que había modelado en arcilla se partió al calor del horno. Ella ha escapado del horror de la guerra en Siria, para soportar un viaje de agua, frío e incertidumbre, y llegar a un país, Grecia, que no estaba en su lista de preferencias y del que ahora no puede salir. Sonríe tranquila cuando escucha “se rompió tu cerámica, y no se puede pintar”. Le encuentra un sentido, y con su hija al lado, lo resume en pocas palabras. “No importa, sólo es una cosa”. Cuenta que disfrutó al modelarla, compartiendo conversaciones y silencios con el grupo de mujeres del taller: “mis dedos se movían sintiendo, y los pensamientos del pasado en Alepo no pesaban”.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ahora que Dilma Rousseff es historia y los Juegos Olímpicos han rebatido las predicciones de apocalipsis, los brasileños esperan pasar página por fin después de dos horribles años de recesión e incertidumbre.

Por desgracia, no será fácil. Los mismos dos problemas que han hecho caer a Rousseff –una crisis presupuestaria y un escándalo de corrupción de escala inaudita– seguirán causándole graves dolores de cabeza a su sucesor, el presidente Michel Temer. Este abogado constitucionalista de 75 años disfruta de la confianza de la mayor parte de la comunidad empresarial local y extranjera, que se alegra de ver el fin de Rousseff, de su mala gestión presupuestaria y de su política industrial.…  Seguir leyendo »

En Estados Unidos, a diferencia de España, tiene mucho valor mostrar y defender en plena contienda electoral las creencias religiosas y sus implicaciones. Es tan importante que hasta Donald Trump en algunos mítines ha aparecido Biblia en ristre (que dice ser regalo de su madre) clamando que él no permitirá que el cristianismo sea atacado ni denigrado. Cuando al regreso de México el Papa Francisco dijo refiriéndose al candidato republicano que «quien solo piensa en construir muros y no puentes, no es cristiano», éste se quejó de que un líder religioso cuestionase su fe, pero, por si acaso, añadió que no quería pelear con el Papa.…  Seguir leyendo »

Semprún no había cumplido los veinte años cuando –ya exiliado con su familia en Francia– fue detenido y torturado por pertenecer a la Resistencia antinazi. Luego fue internado en el campo de concentración de Buchenwald. En el campo de concentración, llevando pegado en su zamarra un rombo de color rojo, de preso político, con una «S» negra de spanier (español), se integró en el PCE. «En cualquier caso, fue en Buchenwald, entre los comunistas españoles de Buchenwald, donde se forjó esa idea de mí mismo que me condujo más tarde a la clandestinidad antifranquista», escribió Semprún en Viviré con su nombre, morirá con el mío.…  Seguir leyendo »

Cada mañana, al ver a la ciudad despertar e incorporarse a la diaria rutina, tomo consciencia de lo aislados que estamos como ciudadanos del deber con la democracia y su fortalecimiento. La interpretación de un gobierno democrático se ha devaluado al extremo de suponer que el hecho de votar sea el eje principal y único para considerar a cualquier régimen como merecedor de ese calificativo.

La democracia hoy no debe ser concebida como una prolongación de las enseñanzas grecoromanas, mucho menos justificarla por el sólo hecho del sufragio popular. La verdadera democracia es más, es el resultado de la fusión de dos vectores sociales que permiten una convivencia pacífica y una justicia respetada.…  Seguir leyendo »

Cuando la marea sube, todos los barcos suben con ella, pero cuando baja algunos bajan más deprisa. El aumento de la desigualdad en la distribución de la renta resulta mucho más patente en periodos de recesión. Y esto es preocupante, porque reduce el crecimiento futuro, provoca inestabilidad política y reacciones viscerales más que racionales y erosiona las instituciones.

Y, sobre todo, porque afecta a las expectativas de los ciudadanos, que se sienten engañados. Muchos de la llamada clase media española pueden decir ahora: «Hicimos lo que nos habían dicho que debíamos hacer: estudiamos una carrera, creamos una familia, compramos nuestra casa, pusimos esfuerzo e ilusión… y hoy tenemos empleos precarios, no podemos pagar la hipoteca, no estamos seguros de que vayamos a recibir una pensión digna y, lo que es peor, nos parece que nuestros hijos no van a estar mejor que nosotros».…  Seguir leyendo »

In 2009, 5,609 people traveled to Australia in tiny cramped boats, seeking refuge. By 2012, it had rocketed to 25,173. Kevin Rudd, the prime minister at the time, vowed that no one who tried to get here by sea would ever be allowed to settle. The opposition party successfully ran on a slogan of “Stop the Boats” in the next election, and by 2014-15, the numbers were down to 158. Now it is virtually zero. And the success of this approach has meant the number of people in detention more generally has plummeted: in 2013 there were almost 2,000 children in onshore and offshore detention; now there is little more than a hundred.…  Seguir leyendo »