In May 1967, in brazen violation of previous truce agreements, Egypt ordered U.N. peacekeepers out of the Sinai, marched 120,000 troops to the Israeli border, blockaded Eilat (Israel'ssouthern outlet to the world's oceans), abruptly signed a military pact with Jordan and, together with Syria, pledged war for the final destruction of Israel.
May '67 was Israel's most fearful, desperate month. The country was surrounded and alone. Previous great-power guarantees proved worthless. A plan to test the blockade with a Western flotilla failed for lack of participants. Time was running out. Forced to protect against invasion by mass mobilization — and with a military consisting overwhelmingly of civilian reservists — life ground to a halt.… Seguir leyendo »
Numerosas voces en todo el mundo, desde Europa a América pasando por Libia, piden la intervención de EEUU para ayudar a deponer a Gadafi. Sin embargo, por derrocar al ex dictador iraquí Sadam Husein, Washington ha sido denunciado reiteradamente por agresión, engaño, arrogancia e imperialismo.
Estamos ante una extraña inversión moral, teniendo en cuenta que el mal provocado por Sadam pertenecía a un orden de magnitud muy por encima del que por ahora ha causado el tirano libio. Gadafi es un asesino caprichoso; Saddam era uno sistemático. Gadafi también es demasiado inestable y perturbado como para rivalizar con el aparato baazista iraquí, que era un sistema nacional integral de terror, torturas y asesinatos a gran escala.… Seguir leyendo »
El rasgo distintivo de la democracia es la alternancia de poder, que obliga a la oposición a ser consecuente -sobre todo en asuntos tan graves como la guerra, en lo que los demócratas han sido decididamente inconsecuentes-.
Cuando la guerra de Irak -a favor de la que votaron la mayoría de los demócratas del Senado- empezó a pintar bastos y las bajas empezaron a crecer, los demócratas se guiaron por los cambiantes vientos de la opinión pública y se volvieron decididamente pacifistas. Pero necesitados de cobertura política a causa de su reputación post-Vietnam de debilidad en la defensa nacional, adoptaron Afganistán como su guerra predilecta, la que había que ganar.… Seguir leyendo »
Michael Crichton escribió en una ocasión que si le hubiera dicho a un médico de 1869 que en cuestión de 100 años el hombre viajaría a la Luna, y después perdería el interés por el satélite, el facultativo le habría declarado de inmediato «demente». En el año 2000, yo cité esta misma anécdota expresando la incredulidad de Crichton ante la dejadez de EEUU con la Luna. Pues bien, ya es 2009 y ésta despierta aún menos interés.
Hoy se cumple el 40º aniversario del primer aterrizaje lunar. Y se nos dice que el hombre regresará en el año 2020. Pero esa promesa fue hecha por el anterior presidente, y bien sabemos que el actual es la antítesis de George Bush.… Seguir leyendo »
Iran today is a revolution in search of its Yeltsin. Without leadership, demonstrators will take to the street only so many times to face tear gas, batons and bullets. They need a leader like Boris Yeltsin: a former establishment figure with newly revolutionary credentials and legitimacy, who stands on a tank and gives the opposition direction by calling for the unthinkable -- the abolition of the old political order.
Right now the Iranian revolution has no leader. As this is written, opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi has not appeared in public since June 18. And the Khamenei-Ahmadinejad regime has shown the requisite efficiency and ruthlessness at suppressing widespread unrest.… Seguir leyendo »
Millones de iraníes toman las calles para desafiar a una dictadura teocrática que, entre otras refinadas cualidades, es enemiga declarada de América y de la tolerancia y las libertades que EE UU representa. Los manifestantes están luchando con sus medios, pero aguardan tan sólo una señal de que los americanos estamos de su lado. ¿Y qué escuchan los iraníes por parte del presidente de los Estados Unidos? Silencio. Y después, algo peor. Transcurridos unos cuantos días enteros sin decir nada, el presidente deja clara su política: «diálogo» sostenido con los clericales amos de Irán. Diálogo con un régimen que está rompiendo cráneos, fusilando manifestantes, expulsando periodistas y deteniendo a activistas.… Seguir leyendo »
This month, I wrote a column outlining two exceptions to the no-torture rule: the ticking time bomb scenario and its less extreme variant in which a high-value terrorist refuses to divulge crucial information that could save innocent lives. The column elicited protest and opposition that were, shall we say, spirited.
And occasionally stupid. Dan Froomkin, writing for washingtonpost.com and echoing a common meme among my critics, asserted that "the ticking time bomb scenario only exists in two places: On TV and in the dark fantasies of power-crazed and morally deficient authoritarians." (He later helpfully suggested that my moral deficiencies derived from "watching TV and fantasizing about being Jack Bauer.")… Seguir leyendo »
"Apart from the time restriction (a truce that lapses after 10 years) and the refusal to accept Israel's existence, Mr. Meshal's terms approximate the Arab League peace plan . . ."
-- Hamas peace plan, as explained by the New York Times
"Apart from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?"
-- Tom Lehrer, satirist
The Times conducted a five-hour interview with Hamas leader Khaled Meshal at his Damascus headquarters. Mirabile dictu, they're offering a peace plan with a two-state solution. Except. The offer is not a peace but a truce that expires after 10 years. Meaning that after Israel has fatally weakened itself by settling millions of hostile Arab refugees in its midst, and after a decade of Hamas arming itself within a Palestinian state that narrows Israel to eight miles wide -- Hamas restarts the war against a country it remains pledged to eradicate.… Seguir leyendo »
Preoccupied as it was poring over Tom Daschle's tax returns, Washington hardly noticed a near-miracle abroad. Iraq held provincial elections. There was no Election Day violence. Security was handled by Iraqi forces with little U.S. involvement. A fabulous bazaar of 14,400 candidates representing 400 parties participated, yielding results highly favorable to both Iraq and the United States.
Iraq moved away from religious sectarianism toward more secular nationalism. "All the parties that had the words 'Islamic' or 'Arab' in their names lost," noted Middle East expert Amir Taheri. "By contrast, all those that had the words 'Iraq' or 'Iraqi' gained."
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki went from leader of a small Islamic party to leader of the "State of Law Party," campaigning on security and secular nationalism.… Seguir leyendo »
Every new president flatters himself that he, kinder and gentler, is beginning the world anew. Yet, when Barack Obama in his inaugural address reached out to Muslims by saying "to the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect," his formulation was needlessly defensive and apologetic.
Is it "new" to acknowledge Muslim interests and show respect to the Muslim world? Obama doesn't just think so, he said so again to millions in his al-Arabiya interview, insisting on the need to "restore" the "same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago."… Seguir leyendo »
Late Saturday, thousands of Gazans received Arabic-language cell-phone messages from the Israeli military, urging them to leave homes where militants might have stashed weapons.
-- Associated Press, Dec. 27
Some geopolitical conflicts are morally complicated. The Israel-Gaza war is not. It possesses a moral clarity not only rare but excruciating.
Israel is so scrupulous about civilian life that, risking the element of surprise, it contacts enemy noncombatants in advance to warn them of approaching danger. Hamas, which started this conflict with unrelenting rocket and mortar attacks on unarmed Israelis -- 6,464 launched from Gaza in the past three years -- deliberately places its weapons in and near the homes of its own people.… Seguir leyendo »
The barbarism in Mumbai and the economic crisis at home have largely overshadowed an otherwise singular event: the ratification of military and strategic cooperation agreements between Iraq and the United States.
They must not pass unnoted. They were certainly noted by Iran, which fought fiercely to undermine the agreements. Tehran understood how a formal U.S.-Iraqi alliance endorsed by a broad Iraqi consensus expressed in a freely elected parliament changes the strategic balance in the region.
For the United States, this represents the single most important geopolitical advance in the region since Henry Kissinger turned Egypt from a Soviet client into an American ally.… Seguir leyendo »
Read the first five paragraphs of the NATO statement on the Russian invasion of Georgia and you will find not a hint of who invaded whom. The statement is almost comically evenhanded. "We deplore all loss of life," it declared, as if deploring a bus accident. And, it "expressed its grave concern over the situation in Georgia." Situation, mind you.
It's not until paragraph six that NATO, a 26-nation alliance with 900 million people and nearly half of world GDP, unsheathes its mighty sword, boldly declaring "Russian military action" -- not aggression, not invasion, not even incursion, but "action" -- to be "inconsistent with its peacekeeping role."… Seguir leyendo »
The Russia-Georgia cease-fire brokered by France's president is less than meets the eye. Its terms keep moving as the Russian army keeps moving. Russia has since occupied Gori (appropriately, Stalin's birthplace), effectively cutting Georgia in two. The road to the capital, Tbilisi, is open, but apparently Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has temporarily chosen to seek his objectives through military pressure and Western acquiescence rather than by naked occupation.
His objectives are clear. They go beyond detaching South Ossetia and Abkhazia from Georgia and absorbing them into Russia. They go beyond destroying the Georgian army, leaving the country at Russia's mercy.
The real objective is the Finlandization of Georgia through the removal of President Mikheil Saakashvili and his replacement by a Russian puppet.… Seguir leyendo »
On the day the Colombian military freed Ingrid Betancourt and 14 other long-held hostages, the Italian Parliament passed yet another resolution demanding her release. Europe had long ago adopted this French-Colombian politician as a cause celebre. France had made her an honorary citizen of Paris, passed numerous resolutions and held many vigils.
Unfortunately, karma does not easily cross the Atlantic. Betancourt languished for six years in cruel captivity until freed in a brilliant operation conducted by the Colombian military, intelligence agencies and special forces -- an operation so well executed that the captors were overpowered without a shot being fired.
This in foreign policy establishment circles is called "hard power."… Seguir leyendo »
I'm not a global warming believer. I'm not a global warming denier. I'm a global warming agnostic who believes instinctively that it can't be very good to pump lots of CO2into the atmosphere but is equally convinced that those who presume to know exactly where that leads are talking through their hats.
Predictions of catastrophe depend on models. Models depend on assumptions about complex planetary systems -- from ocean currents to cloud formation -- that no one fully understands. Which is why the models are inherently flawed and forever changing. The doomsday scenarios posit a cascade of events, each with a certain probability.… Seguir leyendo »
Before sending Lewis and Clark west, Thomas Jefferson dispatched Meriwether Lewis to Philadelphia to see Benjamin Rush. The eminent doctor prepared a series of scientific questions for the expedition to answer. Among them, writes Stephen Ambrose: "What Affinity between their [the Indians'] religious Ceremonies & those of the Jews?" Jefferson and Lewis, like many of their day and ours, were fascinated by the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel and thought they might be out there on the Great Plains.
They weren't. They aren't anywhere. Their disappearance into the mists of history since their exile from Israel in 722 B.C. is no mystery.… Seguir leyendo »
On Tuesday Iran announced it was installing 6,000 more centrifuges -- they produce enriched uranium, the key ingredient of a nuclear weapon -- in addition to the 3,000 already operating. The world yawned.
It is time to admit the truth: The Bush administration's attempt to halt Iran's nuclear program has failed. Utterly. The latest round of U.N. Security Council sanctions, which took a year to achieve, is comically weak. It represents the end of the sanctions road.
At home, the president's efforts to stop Iran's nuclear program were irreparably undermined by November's National Intelligence Estimate, whose "moderate confidence" that Iran has not restarted nuclear weaponization -- the least important of three elements of any nuclear program -- has promoted the illusion that Iran has given up the pursuit of nuclear weapons.… Seguir leyendo »
"My mother always said, democracy is the best revenge."
-- Bilawal Bhutto Zardari,
son of the late Benazir Bhutto
Of all the understandings of the democratic idea, none could be more wrong than this one. Democracy at its very core is an antidote to the kind of dynastic revenge young Bhutto was suggesting.
For the Bhuttos, elections are a means for the family to regain power. Benazir was always avenging the death of her father, the former prime minister hanged two years after a coup. Bilawal is now pledged to do the same for his mother's martyrdom. The Pakistan People's Party has always been a wholly owned family subsidiary.… Seguir leyendo »
It does not have the drama of the Inchon landing or the sweep of the Union comeback in the summer of 1864. But the turnabout of American fortunes in Iraq over the past several months is of equal moment -- a war seemingly lost, now winnable. The violence in Iraq has been dramatically reduced. Political allegiances have been radically reversed. The revival of ordinary life in many cities is palpable. Something important is happening.
And what is the reaction of the war critics? Nancy Pelosi stoutly maintains her state of denial, saying this about the war just two weeks ago: "This is not working.… Seguir leyendo »