Many Americans, and the American government itself, have expressed shock at the treatment of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. The Trump administration has also said it is concerned about persecuted religious minorities in the Middle East. For his part, the president has said he wants to defend the rights of the Castro regime’s opponents in Cuba.
Yet all these protestations will be for nothing if, as the deadline approaches for the White House to make its determination about the number of refugees to be admitted next year, the administration decides to decimate the United States refugee resettlement program. At stake are not just the lives of tens of thousands of victims of war and persecution who dream of starting a new life in America; at risk also are American values, the United States’ reputation and American interests around the world.… Seguir leyendo »
The civil war in Afghanistan is raging again. After almost 40 years of near-consecutive conflict — from the Soviet invasion to the US-led war against the Taliban for its sheltering of Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda post-9/11 — Afghanistan is once again on the international emergency watch list.
As we mark 15 years since that tragic morning in Manhattan, it’s right to ask what international efforts have achieved in Afghanistan and what challenges lie ahead.
Violence is escalating across the country at an alarming rate. The Taliban, at their strongest since the start of the US invasion in 2001, are leading a renewed insurgency in Helmand, Kunduz and beyond.… Seguir leyendo »
Ebola was a brutal wake-up call not only for people across West Africa, but also for the global health community whose job it is to prevent such disastrous outcomes. The United Nations, nonprofit organizations and foreign governments all promised to do better next time.
The first good sign came on February 1, when the World Health Organization declared Zika a public health emergency of international concern, rather than waiting many more months as it had during the Ebola epidemic.
But global health experts have forgotten an even more important lesson in the fight against Ebola: Don’t just act, listen.
During the Ebola outbreak, millions were spent to develop and deliver simple, generic messages about the disease and how to mitigate infection rates.… Seguir leyendo »
The Obama administration and its European allies are confronted by multiple crises in an increasingly turbulent and violent Middle East — the Iran nuclear threat, a strengthening Islamic State and the disintegration of Iraq, Yemen and Libya as functioning nation-states. But no problem is as difficult, grave or pivotal as the brutal, bloody and worsening civil war in Syria.
The situation in this keystone Middle East state is catastrophic. More than 220,000 Syrians have died in its four-year civil war. More than 11 million Syrians — half the population — have fled their homes. Four million have taken refuge in nearby countries.… Seguir leyendo »
Almost a year on from their dramatic seizure of Mosul, Iraq’s second city, the militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria continue to expand the frontiers of their stronghold in the Middle East.
The fall this month of Ramadi — the last remaining government-held city in Iraq’s largest province — and the taking, 400 miles west, of Syria’s Roman-era town of Palmyra, constitute not just important strategic gains for the group, but significant propaganda victories. Televised images of Palmyra’s ancient ruins now abound, their fate seemingly hanging in the balance.
The rapid rise of ISIS has thus captured the world’s attention, and we’ve seen a coalition of Western and Arab states make common cause with Iran to try to forcibly halt the jihadists’ advance.… Seguir leyendo »
África está cambiando radicalmente, tanto como las actitudes de los extranjeros hacia ella: finalmente, Estados Unidos parece haberse decidido a igualar el nivel de interés de China, Europa e India por el continente. La reciente cumbre del Presidente Barack Obama con 40 jefes de estado y 200 líderes de los negocios estadounidenses y africanos parece indicar un estado de ánimo nuevo y más confiado. Resulta estimulante, pero mientras haya partes del África subsahariana que sigan sumidas en conflictos violentos, pobreza y corrupción, no se aprovechará todo el potencial económico del continente.
Las oportunidades comerciales y de crecimiento económico de África son atractivas e interesantes.… Seguir leyendo »
Tras más de mil días de muerte y sufrimiento, dos importantes declaraciones públicas recientes muestran por qué la política para con Siria debe entrar en una nueva fase de intensidad y centrarse más. El mes pasado, el Presidente de los Estados Unidos, Barack Obama, al exponer su posición más amplia en materia de política exterior, habló de los tres males de Siria: tácticas militares brutales, la amenaza terrorista de la oposición y la necesidad de apoyar a los refugiados. Una semana antes, la Oficina de las Naciones Unidas de Coordinación de Asuntos Humanitarios comunicó detalles espantosos de la crisis de Siria en materia de asuntos humanitarios, incluidos ciudadanos víctimas del fuego de los dos bandos, continuos ataques gubernamentales con bombas de barril y escasez de alimentos y medicinas.… Seguir leyendo »
Después de pasar tan sólo tres días con refugiados y trabajadores encargados de prestar la ayuda humanitaria en el Líbano y Turquía, el carácter apocalíptico de la crisis de Siria resulta más que evidente: más de 100.000 muertes, nueve millones de personas desplazadas, dos millones de niños sin poder ir a la escuela, enfermedades como las poliomielitis que reaparecen y los países vecinos que se esfuerzan para afrontar las oleadas de refugiados.
Infinidad de historias desgarradoras de maridos, esposas, hermanos e hijos perdidos, por no hablar de los hogares y los medios de vida destruidos, aportan una prueba angustiosa de cómo ha llegado la guerra civil de Siria a ser un conflicto regional (como lo indica el bombardeo de la embajada del Irán en Beirut).… Seguir leyendo »
While the world applauds the recent agreement on chemical weapons in Syria as a step toward peace, there is no time for false comfort. For the millions of Syrians who have been uprooted from their homes, the more pressing questions of life and death stem from basic concerns: food, water, shelter and medicine. And with the onset of winter, the challenge to survive grows even more daunting.
Winter’s bitter cup will add to the suffering and grief that wreak havoc among the 2.2 million Syrian refugees in neighboring countries. In the coming months, more than a million displaced children will find themselves in sub-zero temperatures.… Seguir leyendo »
With every week that goes by in the Syria crisis, hundreds more lives are lost, policy options narrow and the chances of post-conflict stability grow worse. What started as a demand for internal reform has become a regional conflagration. Foreign fighters from across the Middle East and North Africa are pouring into Syria to train and fight, while refugees are flooding by the hundreds of thousands into Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey.
The Western political debate has focused on military options — and the arguments are complex and finely balanced. But no one believes that under any scenario the war will end quickly.… Seguir leyendo »
“The Norwegian Nobel Committee wishes to focus on what it sees as the E.U.’s most important result: the successful struggle for peace and reconciliation and for democracy and human rights.”
With these words the Nobel committee is set to award the peace prize to the European Union at a ceremony in Oslo on Monday. The European Union has helped turn age-old military enemies in Europe into political and economic partners, making another great war in Europe unthinkable.
As a Dane and a Brit, who were in our formative years when the Berlin Wall fell, and the E.U. enlarged to take in countries of Central and Eastern Europe, we believe that the peace prize is merited — as a reminder of history and a pointer to the future.… Seguir leyendo »
Gobernar es cuestión de estadísticas, pero en la vida lo importante son las personas. Esta disyunción explica en gran medida el cinismo y la antipatía hacia la política característicos en gran parte del mundo hoy día. Y, si bien los problemas locales parecen insolubles, la distancia aumenta la confusión y la fatiga inducidos por problemas aparentemente inextricables. Como de costumbre, quienes sufren son quienes más necesitan la atención mundial.
Esto es particularmente cierto para el millón y medio de personas apiñadas en la Franja de Gaza, bloqueadas entre Israel, Egipto y el mar Mediterráneo. Occidente ya aisló al gobierno de Gaza controlado por Hamas.… Seguir leyendo »
In April 2009, we travelled together as foreign ministers to Sri Lanka, as 25 years of fighting between the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tigers neared its end.
The remaining fighters were trapped in the northern most part of the country — along with large numbers of civilians. U.N. estimates put the numbers of civilians there in the last few months of the war at over 300,000.
Our purpose was simple: to draw attention to the human suffering, to call for humanitarian aid and workers to be allowed in, and to call for the fighting to stop.
We visited refugee camps that had been created to house Tamil refugees from Jaffna.… Seguir leyendo »
The epochal events in the Middle East this year have redefined foreign policy. There are new priorities and challenges that need intensive Western engagement. But it is imperative that the war in Afghanistan does not become the “forgotten war,” as happened with such dangerous consequences after 2002.
There are signs of a significant turn in policy. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke in February of a “political surge.” NATO’s senior civilian representative, Mark Sedwill, said last month “the time is now right to take the risk and pursue the political agenda with the same energy we have brought to the military and civilian surges.”
These deviations from the otherwise relentless focus on military operations, allied and Afghan, need to be taken to a whole new level of urgency, coherence and effort.… Seguir leyendo »
In the wake of the “humbling” of President Obama by American voters there is a lot of talk about what needs to be reversed or buried from his first two years. For the Republicans health care tops the list, closely followed by determination to maintain tax cuts for the wealthy. That is a matter for the American political system. But the rest of us also have a huge stake in what is kept and what is junked on the foreign policy front.
In his first year, President Obama made the rebuilding of America’s reputation and partnerships with the Islamic world a central theme of his presidency.… Seguir leyendo »
Future is the most important word in politics, but at the election people judged that the Labour Party was out of time. The dad I met having breakfast with his son in Rochester on Saturday morning had voted for us three times; this time he felt we weren’t addressing his concerns about the cost of living.
Too many people like him felt Britain needed change, but that we didn’t offer it. In a “change election” we were perceived to be defending the old order, rather than advancing a new one. Founded as the people’s party, we were too easy to caricature as the politicians’ party.… Seguir leyendo »
Tras una evaluación exhaustiva, el presidente Obama ha decidido desplegar otros 30.000 soldados más para acabar con el punto muerto en Afganistán. A pesar de los costes, tiene claro que ésta es una guerra de necesidad, porque la región fronteriza montañosa entre Afganistán y Pakistán es «el epicentro del extremismo violento practicado por Al Qaeda». Nadie puede negar que los retos a los que nos enfrentamos en Afganistán son enormes.
El país está destrozado tras décadas de conflicto y asolado por la pobreza. Y la guerra asimétrica que están librando los talibán -con artefactos explosivos improvisados y bombas de carretera- se cobra un precio muy alto, tanto en vidas inocentes de los afganos como de las fuerzas internacionales.… Seguir leyendo »
Every country in the world is debating whether and how to fashion a global role. When I took China’s top foreign policy official, State Councillor Dai Bingguo, to the Cabinet War Rooms and Churchill Museum last weekend, he relayed his recent conversation with one of the most eminent American foreign policy heavyweights. “Britain punches above its weight,” he had been told. He asked me why. This is what I told him.
Our outlook, influence and power today reflects history but does not rest on it. Instead, four factors are key.
First, we embrace the internationalism of the modern world, with its new powers and new threats.… Seguir leyendo »
Lally Weymouth of The Post and Newsweek interviewed British Foreign Secretary David Miliband this week. Excerpts:
Q. The thing that is on everybody’s mind here is the release of Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, the Libyan found guilty of the Lockerbie bombing. How could you have released him?
A. It was a decision by the Scottish authorities according to the criminal justice laws of Scotland.
Did you oppose the decision?
It wasn’t for us to interfere. We did not oppose it.
Under our criminal justice system, this is a devolved matter according to the law of Britain. The law of Britain gives power over criminal justice issues that relate to Scotland to the Scottish government.… Seguir leyendo »
This week, Barack Obama will chair a summit of the UN security council to discuss nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. This is one of the most critical issues we face. Get it right, and we will increase global security, pave the way for a world without nuclear weapons and improve access to affordable, safe and dependable energy – vital to tackle climate change. Get it wrong, and we face the spread of nuclear weapons and the chilling prospect of nuclear material falling into the hands of terrorists.
Ministers from the E3+3 (Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia and the US) will also meet ahead of talks with Iran on 1 October.… Seguir leyendo »