The walkers come in a steady flow, individually and in small groups, through most of the day. The serpentine mountain road they take often has little room at the sides, leaving refugees in the path of traffic. The 350-mile journey to Bogota is part forced march and part pilgrimage — impelled by hunger and desperation in Venezuela, but also drawn toward a new start in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru or beyond.
At this point in the Venezuelan crisis, many of the men have already gone ahead in search of work. Their families now follow. Children drag luggage behind them. Mothers carry babies or cranky toddlers.… Seguir leyendo »
Tras décadas de comodidad en el Estado del Bienestar y años de gasto de estímulo keynesiano, Europa contempla la alarmante llegada de políticas de austeridad. Ofendidos deudores como Grecia, España o Portugal se están viendo obligados a implantar subidas tributarias y recortes del gasto dolorosos e impopulares -y que son sólo el principio-. Sus ciudadanos echan pestes y a veces piedras contra las fuerzas del orden.
A su vez, ofendidos acreedores como Alemania extienden rescates al tiempo que se preguntan por qué se les ocurriría unir su destino (y el valor de su divisa) a gobiernos tan irresponsables.
Y los que no están resentidos, están aterrados.… Seguir leyendo »
La sentencia más importante que se puede dictaminar sobre un presidente de EEUU no es si se trata de izquierdista o conservador, sino si es fuerte o débil. El veredicto de debilidad tiende a reforzarse solo. Cada tropiezo avala la narrativa, mientras que los logros que contradigan esta narrativa son minimizados o ignorados (véase Jimmy Carter). Pero lo contrario también es cierto. La fuerza tiene una dinámica propia.
Obama posee un cierto tipo de fuerza que yo había subestimado. Su reserva no carece de pasión. Durante el debate sobre la reforma sanitaria el presidente ha sido tenaz, incluso cruel. Después de la victoria republicana de Massachussets en el Senado, reaccionó con ira y ambición, no con conciliación.… Seguir leyendo »
Being an educated, professional woman in Afghanistan could not have been easy at any time during the last few decades. I recently met with a group of female government officials, brought to Washington by USAID and the U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council. One, during the Taliban years, had run an underground school in her home for the criminal purpose of teaching girls. Another had built a community development program employing 25,000 Afghan women before she was put under close guard by the Taliban. Her home was looted, and her children were threatened with kidnapping.
Afghanistan is a country where women have made significant progress — but only compared with a comprehensively oppressive past.… Seguir leyendo »
In early 2005, the advance of freedom in the Middle East had an air of inevitability. Hundreds of thousands demonstrated in Beirut to demand an end to Syrian occupation. Eight and a half million Iraqis voted with purpled fingers. Even Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak permitted a multiparty election. People talked of an «Arab spring.»
By 2006, what had seemed inevitable was dismissed as incredible. Iraq had descended into civil strife, apparently aided by elections that reinforced sectarian divides. Voting in the Palestinian territories brought Hamas to power. Mubarak, the old angler, reeled back most of the freedoms he had granted.
Some American conservatives found Burkean lessons in the fading freedom agenda, asserting that democracy is a fragile flower that grows only in a rich cultural soil tended by Jeffersons and Hamiltons.… Seguir leyendo »
Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is attempting something rare and difficult — sharing power with the man who tried to murder him.
Every Monday morning, Tsvangirai conducts public business across the table from Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s president, founder and oppressor. During a recent interview in Washington, Tsvangirai told me that the 85-year-old Mugabe «is someone who can be charming when he wants. I am on guard when he becomes charming. It is when I’m most suspicious of his intentions.»
Mugabe has a long history of co-opting his political opponents — or killing them. «He has not co-opted me,» says Tsvangirai. The killing part is not for want of trying.… Seguir leyendo »
It so happened that this week, on the day I wrote about Holocaust denial in the Middle East, a homegrown denier took a rifle into the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum — an institution where I sit on the governing board. The museum counts about 1.7 million visitors each year who learn about the history of murderous racism — and now one who decided to add to that history.
That day, out of curiosity, I did something I rarely do. I read the comments on my column on a number of Web sites that publish it. In addition to the normal political vituperation, the level of anti-Jewish feeling was appalling.… Seguir leyendo »
It is President Obama’s defining rhetorical strategy. For every contending thesis and antithesis — Islam vs. the West, Iran vs. America, Palestinians vs. Israel — he is the synthesis. All sides possess a shiny shard of the truth. Obama assembles the mosaic.
Discounting for gush and swoon, the reaction of Newsweek’s Evan Thomas to the Cairo speech was revealing: «I mean, in a way, Obama’s standing above the country, above — above the world, he’s sort of God.» Here is an American president so Olympian in his perspective that he is «above the country.» Obama seldom chooses to be a participant in ideological struggles.… Seguir leyendo »
El explosivo debate sobre la política antiterrorista de Bush entre el presidente de EEUU, Barack Obama, y el ex vicepresidente Dick Cheney, que tuvo lugar la semana pasada, acabó con acuerdos sobre la continuidad de las comisiones militares, la necesidad de detener indefinidamente a algunos terroristas y la insensatez manifiesta de crear una comisión de la verdad. Y lo cierto es que pese a las disputas acaloradas, con Obama en la Casa Blanca se siguen practicando asesinatos selectivos de terroristas -por ejemplo, en Pakistán-, y se entregan terroristas a países amigos nada quisquillosos con la aplicación de la Convención de Ginebra.… Seguir leyendo »
It is not every day that one dines with the Sultan of Sokoto — a direct descendant of Usman dan Fodio, who was declared «Commander of the Faithful» in 1804 and founded a caliphate that reached from what is now Burkina Faso to Cameroon.
His Eminence Alhaji Muhammad Sa’adu Abubakar III is a thoroughly modern man of military bearing — and perhaps the most influential religious figure you have never heard of. The sultan is spiritual leader to 70 million Nigerian Muslims. At home, he points out, a dinner at a restaurant is «quite impossible,» because he would be mobbed by coreligionists.… Seguir leyendo »
Religion has often unintentionally enabled scientific skepticism. The faithful will issue a challenge to science: Ha, you can’t explain the development of life, or the moral sense, or the nearly universal persistence of religion. To which the materialist responds: Can too. It is all biology and chemistry, thus disproving your God hypothesis.
To this musty debate, Andrew Newberg, perhaps America’s leading expert on the neurological basis of religion, brings a fresh perspective. His new book, «How God Changes Your Brain,» co-authored with Mark Robert Waldman, summarizes several years of groundbreaking research on the biological basis of religious experience. And it offers plenty to challenge skeptics and believers alike.… Seguir leyendo »
Durante años, el régimen sudanés encabezado por el presidente Omar Hasán al-Bashir ha actuado como un grupo terrorista, tomando rehenes a millones de refugiados en campamentos en Darfur y advirtiendo al mundo de que no hiciera ninguna maniobra agresiva. Ahora el mundo se enfrenta a una duda: ¿qué hacer cuando los captores empiezan a matar a sus cautivos? Después de que el Tribunal Penal Internacional dictara una orden de detención bajo la acusación de crímenes contra la humanidad, Bashir respondía expulsando a 13 grupos internacionales de ayuda humanitaria, incluyendo a cuatro importantes socios del Programa Mundial de Alimentos responsables de distribuir comida entre los 1,1 millones de habitantes de Darfur.… Seguir leyendo »
I recall sitting at a Kigali restaurant with a Tutsi woman who described the death of her younger sister, a university student, during the Rwandan genocide. The girl had been given up for murder by one of her own teachers, who was a nun. The survivor across from me, previously a Catholic, had never attended church again. In the sacrifice of the Mass, she could see only the sacrifice of her sister.
Many items on the list of horribles laid at the door of religion are libels or exaggerations. But this charge — the indifference or complicity of many Christians during the great genocides of modern history — is one of the genuine scandals.… Seguir leyendo »
Israel’s recent operations in Gaza began in an atmosphere of criticism, including the widespread prediction that the use of force wouldn’t «solve anything.» Since, in this view, a negotiated peace is the only eventual answer to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it is a mistake for Israel to engage its enemies in an endless cycle of violence. Hamas in particular would only be strengthened.
This augury of futility was wrong. Israeli forces, responding to an intolerable provocation, inflicted lopsided casualties on Hamas, which displayed a discrediting combination of cowardice and brutality. Hamas fighters used civilians as shields instead of shielding civilians — and some Palestinians seemed to resent it.… Seguir leyendo »
By Michael Gerson (THE WASHINGTON POST, 05/12/08):
The attacks have come like the steady rhythm of a clock — 171 dead in Mumbai. Tick. Fifty-two dead in the London bombings. Tock. One hundred ninety-one dead in the Madrid train attacks. Tick. Two hundred two in Bali, and 2,973 in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania.
Maybe this is just the risk of living in the modern world. Or maybe it is the tick of a detonator.
Days after the Mumbai attacks, the Commission on the Prevention of WMD Proliferation and Terrorism claimed that a chemical, biological or nuclear terrorist attack is likely before the end of 2013.… Seguir leyendo »