In the midst of the refugee crisis, the European Union has for the first time ever been considering deploying naval assets against organized crime. People smuggling, chiefly from Syria and the Horn of Africa, is now a multibillion-dollar business that is as profitable, if not more so, than the trade in illegal narcotics.
This is not the trafficking of migrant labor or women for sexual purposes. These criminal gangs are effectively offering travel-agent services to desperate people fleeing conflict. Their services can include false documentation, bribes to border guards and transport, in dangerous, often deadly, circumstances.
Sadly, the measures countries are taking to counteract the flood of refugees serve only to make organized crime stronger.… Seguir leyendo »
For England fans, last week was all about the traditional World Cup Groundhog Day. Same old story, then? For England maybe. But for the World Cup and Fifa, the competition in Brazil is beginning to look like a turning point where popular discontent at the profligacy with state funds and avarice could have far-reaching consequences.
For me, the most striking image of the tournament so far has been the shot of Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, celebrating one of the Seleção’s goals against Croatia during the opening game in São Paulo’s Itaquerão stadium. She was not in pride of place halfway up the middle of the stadium, but almost hidden at the back of an executive box.… Seguir leyendo »
The decision by the United States and Israel to develop and then deploy the Stuxnet computer worm against an Iranian nuclear facility late in George W. Bush’s presidency marked a significant and dangerous turning point in the gradual militarization of the Internet. Washington has begun to cross the Rubicon. If it continues, contemporary warfare will change fundamentally as we move into hazardous and uncharted territory.
It is one thing to write viruses and lock them away safely for future use should circumstances dictate it. It is quite another to deploy them in peacetime. Stuxnet has effectively fired the starting gun in a new arms race that is very likely to lead to the spread of similar and still more powerful offensive cyberweaponry across the Internet.… Seguir leyendo »
Two weeks after the political earthquake in Greece, Serbia has now registered a powerful aftershock with the defeat of its incumbent president, Boris Tadic, at the hands of an erstwhile extreme nationalist on Sunday.
The election may look like a localised Serbian matter but it has the potential to develop into a regional and European problem. Apart from the dramas surrounding the Hague war crimes tribunal, the Balkans region has been away from the limelight for many years now. But several of its most significant political and constitutional problems remain unresolved. And now the corrosive impact of the recession and the eurozone crisis threatens to retoxify some of those unresolved issues.… Seguir leyendo »
The International Court of Justice’s ruling last week that Kosovo did not violate international law with its unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia in 2008 should send an important message to Moscow and Washington: Stop meddling. This particular battle needs to be resolved by Belgrade and Pristina themselves — with a little help from the European Union. Russia and the United States must stand back and stop muddying the waters.
A close reading of the judgment shows that the court ruled on a very narrow issue. Stripped of its legalese, the ruling says it’s O.K. under international law to “say” that you want independence.… Seguir leyendo »
A perverse narcissism seized the British media last week, with several papers seemingly desperate to claim the Mumbai terrorists as British citizens. There was no evidence for this beyond a couple of unsourced stories in the Indian press, but it served to confirm the thesis that the whole operation was organised by al-Qaida and thus merely another manifestation of the cultural clash between Islam and its religious competitors.
The Mumbai attacks were not about global jihad. The attacks on foreign tourists at the Taj and the Oberoi, and on the Lubavitch centre, were designed to secure maximum publicity – a strategy that worked splendidly.… Seguir leyendo »