John Lloyd (Continuación)

The charge of anti-Semitism has roiled the British Labour Party, once one of Israel’s staunchest supporters. Party members tended to think anti-Semitism was a disease of the right. Now, it’s become the reverse.

Both prominent figures and ordinary members have been suspended from membership and from posts on suspicion of this form of racism, as the leftist leader, Jeremy Corbyn, seeks to stamp out a theme that has had the governing Conservatives crowing with schadenfreude. Jewish supporters are deserting the party and members are forced to protest their aversion to one of the world's oldest prejudices.

The issue came to light after Ken Livingstone, a former mayor of London, stirred up a storm last month by suggesting that Hitler was a Zionist (for considering a plan to ship German Jews to Palestine).…  Seguir leyendo »

Israel is about to have "its most right-wing government, ever.

Avigdor Lieberman, head of the far-right party Yisrael Beitenu (Israel is Our Home) has accepted Benjamin Netanyahu’s offer of the defense ministry.  The Israeli prime minister’s offer returns to the cabinet a man who is a past foreign minister and whose vision for the future strains the right-wing limits of Israel's wildly divided political spectrum.

Israeli politicians are mostly horrified by the appointment. Benny Begin, son of former Prime Minister Menachem Begin and a longstanding member of Netanyahu’s own Likud Party, said that Netanyahu had acted irresponsibly and "dangerously". Isaac Herzog, leader of the Zionist Union (a joint party composed of Herzog's Labor Party and former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni's Hatnuah) and who had actively sought his own place in the cabinet, said the policies now pursued would "verge on insanity".…  Seguir leyendo »

I once was brazenly corrupt.

Driving a friend’s car in a country I won’t name -- its politics are malign, its reach long and you never know -- I was pulled over late one Friday night. The traffic policeman said he smelled alcohol (I had not been drinking), and waited. This was the bribe pause -- then set for foreigners at about $50. I was infused with a civic sense that a stand must be made, and the pause lengthened. Annoyed, he took me to his station, where a clearly drunk doctor breathalyzed me, and said I was the intoxicated one.…  Seguir leyendo »

Those who complain that the news is depressing have a valid point. But it could get exponentially worse.

China, Russia, Egypt and Turkey are becoming even more authoritarian. The European Union is “on the verge of collapse,” according to George Soros, one of its strongest supporters. Global warming is worsening. The BRICS countries, which were to be engines of global growth, are all struggling with economic decline and political cul-de-sacs — with the slightly shaky exception of India. In every case, except those of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and China’s Xi Jinping (though not his extended family), the leader has been accused of corruption.…  Seguir leyendo »

The drama of the European Union can’t yet be called a tragedy, but it’s shaping up that way. What started out as the salvation of a continent from the horrors of the first half of its 20th century is now — after decades of optimistic growth lofty proclamations — toiling miserably merely to exist. Dramatic tragedy is the collapse of high status and ambition: The EU grasped after greatness, achieved much – and is now perilously close to losing all.

The most obvious challenges from within come, first, from the always semi-detached British, who may well leave after a referendum in June.…  Seguir leyendo »

The attack on Europe's political capital on Tuesday has been widely blamed on bad intelligence; not just the dysfunctional separation of powers in Belgium, but on the lack of sharing of information among the many intelligence services of the 28 states of the European Union. The services in the former Communist states to the east were reconfigured after the collapse of the Soviet-backed regimes in 1990, but some still contain habits — and in a few cases personnel — from the days when they saw the West European states' agencies as the enemy. Sharing, even at a low level, is tentative.…  Seguir leyendo »

A “promised land” has been a constant hope in the world since the Lord promised what became Israel to Abraham, in the Book of Genesis (15:18). Some centuries later, the Lord told Moses (according to Numbers 34) to lead the Israelites out of Egypt to occupy a somewhat smaller space than he had outlined to Abraham — the land east from the Jordan River to the sea.

Zionism was built on these promises, its fulfillment in modern times powered by the Holocaust’s message that defensible land was necessary for the continued existence of the Jews. It’s gone well and badly. In his 2013 book “My Promised Land,” a fine confrontation by an Israeli journalist of the grace and disgrace of his state, Ari Shavit writes: “Israel is the only nation of the West that is occupying another people.…  Seguir leyendo »

A little over a quarter of a century ago, Europe celebrated the healing of the schism that Communism enforced on it since World War Two, and which produced great tribunes of freedom.

Lech Walesa, the Polish shipyard electrician, climbed over his yard wall in Gdansk to join and then lead a strike in 1980 – lighting the fuse to ignite, 10 years and a period of confinement later, a revolution that couldn’t be squashed. He was elected president in 1990.

Vaclav Havel, the Czech writer and dissident who served years in prison for his opposition to the Communist government, emerged as the natural leader of the democrats who articulated the frustration of the country.…  Seguir leyendo »

Sergei Guriev, Russia’s most prominent free market economist, left Moscow in 2013 for Paris, in fear of his liberty. He had publicly supported dissidents, criticized the administration’s policies, was an active and committed liberal, in politics as in economics. He produced, earlier this year, a 21st century equivalent of Niccolo Machiavelli’s “The Prince”: a blueprint of how the modern autocrat rules, and remains.

Unlike the Florentine, though, Guriev isn’t recommending a course of action, he’s describing it; and he doesn’t believe it will be good for the state, but ruinous. If, in this and other writings and interviews, he’s right about the nature of Russia’s governance, his country is in for a bad crash.…  Seguir leyendo »

The United Kingdom is trying to get itself out of the clutches of what it believes will be a uniting Europe. Prime Minister David Cameron promised a referendum to the British people by 2017 on whether or not they wished to remain a member of the European Union. He may give them one as early as next year.

Britain has been a member of the European Union and its predecessor organization since 1972.

The negotiations on this, now fully joined after months of a phony war, are highly technical — lawyers’ and diplomats’ work. But at root, this is a move with very large implications, as much for the other members as for the UK.…  Seguir leyendo »

After World War Two, having crushed evil, Western politicians unleashed a deluge of good. Welfare states were created, with healthcare, education, pensions and social services extended to entire populations.

The European imperialists, under the not-so-gentle prodding of the no-longer-imperialist United States, began to pull down their union jacks and tricolors — a process which was both bloody and protracted, but which ushered in, year after year, new states free to rule themselves.

A small group of highly motivated men lobbied for an extraordinary dream to be given substance: a union of the European states, ultimately a federal Europe — and, framing it as a medium for ending Europe’s centuries of war, they won part of their point (a union, but not a federal one).…  Seguir leyendo »

Leaking is essential to journalism. It is the ethical problem at the heart of the trade — since much leaking depends on the leaker breaking a promise not to leak. The conundrum is “solved” by appealing to the higher cause of holding power to account.

That rationale can vary from having the force of exposing official lies or corporate fraud to the grubbiness of publishing details, usually sexual, of the private life of well-known people. But leaking is especially essential in the coverage of the intelligence services, and of the way in which security in the face of militant jihadism is administered.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Europeans have — it’s not news — tended to be snooty about the Americans. Especially the French, but the attitude is ingrained even in the “special relationship” with the UK.

In interviews with intelligence service people, mostly retired, for a project for the Reuters Institute, I often heard that senior British officers had thought the phrase “War on Terror” to be a stupid one, and that they never used it. It was not a war, they believed. The struggle was not “existential.” It was a serious challenge from serious militants: hard, vicious but finite.

It’s different now. Francois Hollande, the Socialist president of France, has said that the slaughter in Paris last Friday evening was “an act of war.”…  Seguir leyendo »

Residents walk through the Breezy Point neighborhood which was left devastated by Hurricane Sandy in the New York borough of Queens, November 12, 2012. REUTERS/Adrees Latif

The Nobel Prize for economics, the dismal science, went this year to an optimist: Angus Deaton, of Princeton University. His book, “The Great Escape,” is in large part fanfare for the common man and woman: They have done much better over the past century than they ever have before. As David Leonhardt, the editor of The Upshot at The New York Times wrote, Deaton’s book shows that “by the most meaningful measures — how long we live, how healthy and happy we are, how much we know — life has never been better. Just as important, it is continuing to improve.”…  Seguir leyendo »

A taxi driver holds a flare in front of a balloon that reads ” Out Uber” during a protest against the online car service Uber in Sao Paulo, Brazil, September 9, 2015. REUTERS/Nacho Doce

“People still talk about the geopolitics of oil. But we now have to talk about the geopolitics of technology.”

These words come from Craig Mundie, former head of research at Microsoft, speaking at the Ambrosetti Forum in the palatial surroundings of the Villa d’Este Hotel on Italy’s Lake Garda last weekend. It’s an artful phrase, the geopolitics of technology, and it’s dropped into the “global conversation” at a well-chosen time.

The “geopolitics of oil” means complex and shifting political alliances linked to corporate chess games designed to capture squares of oil and gas exploitation. The geopolitics of technology, by contrast, will be the stuff of every sphere of public and private life.…  Seguir leyendo »

Visitors look at works on display at the opening of “The Commissar Vanishes” exhibition in the state museum of Gulag history in Moscow, April 2, 2012. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

It’s a central tenet of liberal thinking and liberal politics that facing one’s own country’s history is an activity necessary to the mental health of the people.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the chronicler of Soviet oppression, said on his return to his native soil in 1994 after 20 years in exile that “national reconciliation is a great thing and much needed, but there cannot be national reconciliation without spiritual cleansing.”

Solzhenitsyn was an uncertain liberal: but in this he agrees with a paid-up member of the liberal intelligentsia, Ian Buruma. In his Wages of Guilt, he contrasted the German assumption of responsibility for Nazi atrocities with the stuttering response of the Japanese to their war guilt, writing that “when society has become sufficiently open and free to look back, from the point of view neither of the victim nor of the criminal, but of the critic, only then will the ghosts be laid to rest.”…  Seguir leyendo »

It’s not the economy, stupid. At least it isn’t where hearts are warmed by the fiercer flame of nationalism, rather than rising living standards.

Oil prices as low as $40 a barrel are separating the oil haves from the oil have-nots. The oil producers happily rode a wave of high oil prices for years, buying popularity with increased state spending while excusing themselves from the hard pounding of legitimate economic reform. The oil-buyers — like India and Egypt — now enjoy prices as low as a third of those they paid as recently as two years ago and can cut fuel subsidies, saving spending or redirecting it to broader social uses.…  Seguir leyendo »

Migrants disembark from a dinghy after their failed attempt to sail for the Greek island of Kos from the Turkish coastal town of Bodrum, Turkey, August 20, 2015. REUTERS/Kenan Gurbuz

The European Union has suffered three systemic shocks in the past five years. The most existential of these is the euro crisis and the most insidious is the Russian invasion of Ukraine. But the most visible and heart-rending — not to mention most challenging to the EU’s easy assumption of its own virtue — is the recent flood of migrants from the south and east, fleeing poverty, suppression and war.

Both the euro crisis and the Russian encroachment in Ukraine threaten to undermine the EU’s development into a cohesive unit. The common euro currency was meant to pave the way to common politics, a giant step towards a European State, which turned out to be a step far too large.…  Seguir leyendo »

A man purported to be the reclusive leader of the militant Islamic State Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has made what would be his first public appearance at a mosque in the centre of Iraq’s second city, Mosul, according to a video recording posted on the Internet on July 5, 2014. REUTERS/Social Media Website via Reuters TV

It’s the curse of our times: militant group self-pity. But however vexing it may be to watch powerful figures use the blame game to justify their bad actions, the strategy is proving wildly successful.

In descending order of cursedness, militant Islam takes the first prize. Their grievances are plentiful.

The West, led by the United States, wages incessant war against Muslims, cries Islamic State spokesman Abu Mohammed al Adnani, who says disbelievers must be killed wherever found: “Smash his head with a rock, or slaughter him with a knife, or run him over with your car, or throw him down from a high place, or choke him, or poison him.”…  Seguir leyendo »

Fighters from Misrata fire weapons at Islamic State militants near Sirte, March 15, 2015. Militants loyal to Islamic State, the group which has seized much of Iraq and Syria, have established a larger presence in central Libya in recent weeks. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

President Obama, already musing on failures during his second term, has said he regrets that the U.S. joined a coalition to intervene in Libya in 2011, ousting President Muammar Gaddafi, without an adequate plan for the post-Gaddafi society. “I think we [and] our European partners underestimated the need to come in full force if you’re going to do this.”

It’s curious that Obama and his allies had not ordered a plan for the new Libya: They had the example of the Iraq invasion in 2003. The war was won quickly but the post-war haunts us still, in part because the war effort was not paralleled with a vigorous peace effort.…  Seguir leyendo »