Archive for the ‘News’ Category

5
Feb

100205e-005 Press conference by the NATO Secretary General - Informal meeting of NATO Defence Ministers - Istanbul, TurkeyThere is an unmistakeable sense among Western decision-makers of power slipping away.It’s not an argument about American abstention or decline, although that plays into it for some critics of the Obama administration.It is more to do with the exhaustion – moral, political and economic – of nations that have been in the forefront of the international security business, and the vibrant ascendancy of some other players.Talking on Monday to Anders Fogh Rasmussen, secretary general of Nato, he can see the reasons for austerity, for cutbacks in government spending in order to reduce deficits, but he can also see its likely results.”It means,” he says, “we will have less influence on the international scene. The vacuum will be filled by other powers and they do not necessarily share our interests and our values.”Many Britons or Americans still fuming at the destruction wrought in Iraq or Afghanistan may find a loss of influence preferable to a repetition of the past decade’s adventurism, but it troubles many diplomats, soldiers and politicians deeply.Indian nuclear submarines

General Sir Nick Houghton, the UK’s chief of defence staff, said a couple of months ago that he had come to the “stark conclusion” that one of his biggest professional challenges “is to help re-validate the utility of the military instrument of national power in the minds of the government and the wider public”.It might be argued that a rejection of force by Western countries is a temporary phenomenon following the losses of two difficult foreign wars, and an economic downturn that has forced an emphasis on cutting deficits.

But the reduction of spending by Nato countries is just one aspect of this power shift – indeed it is the lesser aspect of it compared with the increases in military spending by countries like China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. Read more…

By Mark Urban, Diplomatic and Defence Editor, Newsnight

Published on 4 February in http://www.bbc.co.uk/news

22
Jan

Three Myths About Global Poverty

Written on January 22, 2014 by Waya Quiviger in International Development, News, Op Ed

By Bill & Melinda Gates

By almost any measure the world is better off now than ever before, in part thanks to foreign aid. By 2035, they predict there will be almost no poor countries.So why do so many people seem to think things are getting worse?Much of the reason is that all too many people are in the grip of three deeply damaging myths about global poverty and development. Don’t get taken in by them.

MYTH ONE: Poor countries are doomed to stay poor.

They’re really not. Incomes and other measures of human welfare are rising almost everywhere – including Africa.Take Mexico City, for instance. In 1987, when we first visited, most homes lacked running water, and we often saw people trekking on foot to fill up water jugs. It reminded us of rural Africa. The guy who ran Microsoft’s Mexico City office would send his kids back to the US for check-ups to make sure the smog wasn’t making them sick.Today, Mexico City is mind-blowingly different, boasting high-rise buildings, cleaner air, new roads and modern bridges. You still find pockets of poverty, but when we visit now, we think, “Wow – most people here are middle-class. What a miracle”. You can see a similar transformation in Nairobi, New Delhi, Shanghai and many more cities around the world.

In our lifetime, the global picture of poverty has been completely redrawn. Per-person incomes inTurkey and Chile are where the US was in 1960. Malaysia is nearly there. So is Gabon. Since 1960,China‘s real income per person has gone up eightfold. India‘s has quadrupled, Brazil‘s has almost quintupled, and tiny Botswana, with shrewd management of its mineral resources, has seen a 30-fold increase. A new class of middle-income nations that barely existed 50 years ago now includes more than half the world’s population. Read more…

This is an edited text from the forthcoming annual letter of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, of which the authors are co-chairs. Mr. Gates is the chairman of Microsoft. To receive the annual letter go to gatesfoundation.org. http://www.realclearworld.com/articles/2014/01/21/three_myths_about_global_poverty.html

 

17
Jan

By Dominique Moisi

This analysis first appeared in Les Echos

Bashar al-Assad is still in power in Damascus and al-Qaeda’s black flag was recently waving above Fallujah and Ramadi in Iraq. Not only has the process of fragmentation in Syria now spilled over to Iraq, but these two realities also share a common cause that could be summarized into a simple phrase: the failure of the West.

The capture, even though temporary, of the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi by Sunni militias claiming links to al-Qaeda, is a strong and even humiliating symbol of the failure of the policies the United States carried out in Iraq. A little more than a decade after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s regime – and after hundreds of thousands of deaths on the Iraqi side and more than 5,000 on the American side – we can only lament a sad conclusion: All that for this!

In Syria, the same admission of failure is emerging. Assad and his loyal allies - Russia and Iran - have actually emerged stronger from their confrontation with the West. Civilian massacres, including with chemical weapons, did not change anything. The regime is holding tight, despite losing control of important parts of its territory, thanks to its allies’ support and, most importantly, the weakness of its opponents and those who support them.

In reality, from the Middle East to Africa, the entire idea of outside intervention is being challenged in a widely post-American region. How and when can one intervene appropriately? At which point does not intervening become, to quote the French diplomat Talleyrand following the assassination of the Duke of Enghien in 1804, “worse than a crime, a mistake?”

When is intervention necessary? “Humanitarian emergency” is a very elastic concept. Is the fate of Syrian civilians less tragic than that of Libyans? Why intervene in Somalia in 1992 and not inSudan? The decision to intervene reveals, in part, selective emotions that can also correspond to certain sensitivities or, in a more mundane way, to certain best interests of the moment.

Intervention becomes more probable when it follows the success of some other action; or, on the contrary, a decision to abstain that led to massacre and remorse. The tragedy of the African Great Lakes in 1994 – not to mention the Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia in 1995 – certainly contributed to the West’s decision to intervene in Kosovo in 1999. In reality, the intervention of a given country at a given time is typically driven by multiple factors: the existence of an interventionist culture, a sense of urgency, a minimum of empathy towards the country or the cause justifying the intervention, and, of course, the existence of resources that are considered, rightly or wrongly, sufficient and well-adapted. Read more…

 

10
Jan

Europe’s Supernova Moment

Written on January 10, 2014 by Waya Quiviger in Europe, News, Op Ed

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HAMBURG, Germany — More or less since its birth, the European Union has been a subject of apocalyptic talk — a permanent crisis mode that has worked beautifully to enhance ever-closer integration.

Today, though, the situation is different, and it is serious. Never before have Europeans been more tired and disillusioned with the promises of the Brussels mandarins. In the run-up to the European parliamentary elections in May, the gap between what’s economically necessary and what’s politically justifiable is growing dangerously wide.

Europe has come through the last years of crisis with a new momentum, and yet the situation is reminiscent of how a star reaches its greatest density just before it explodes. If that is so, is there a remedy for what the analyst Roderick Parkes has called the “supernova moment”?

There is. But it would require Germany, the union’s largest and most powerful driver, to support an idea that the country has always fiercely rejected: to activate the thrust reverser for certain parts of the unification project as a way to reduce the Continent’s political stress. It would mean, more specifically, listening to the ideas being laid out by the British prime minister, David Cameron.

Integration, Mr. Cameron argues, should be cut back in a variety of policy-making realms — social and employment laws, for example, or environmental legislation — and shifted back to the individual countries. That would allow Brussels to focus on other areas more central to its vision, like monetary unification, energy security and enlargement.

The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has been ignoring these ideas with a mixture of anxiety, denial and lack of vision. For the sake of Europe, she should think again. Read more…

Jochen Bittner is a political editor for the weekly newspaper Die Zeit. As published in the International New York Times on Jan. 9, 2014 http://www.nytimes.com

9
Jan

Bienvenidos a la Edad de Oro del conflicto

Written on January 9, 2014 by Waya Quiviger in News, Op Ed

José Zorrilla

 

Cuando el ganador de la II Guerra Mundial, el general George C. Marshall, pasó a ejercer como Secretario de Estado (Exteriores), los periodistas le preguntaron cómo se sentía ante un cambio tan radical. Su respuesta es legendaria. “En ambos cargos hago lo mismo: administro los límites del poder”. Estas palabras pertenecen a un general que había recibido un Ejército de 50.000 hombres, todos en suelo americano, y lo había transformado en otro integrado por diez millones de efectivos desplegados por los cinco continentes. En aquellos días, EEUU venía a representar el 50% del Producto Nacional Bruto del mundo.

Pero, así como los espectadores de Esquilo olvidaban la catarsis de la tragedia en cuanto llegaban a su casa en Atenas o nosotros hemos olvidado el horror de la Guerra Civil, Estados Unidos también olvidó los límites del poder durante los años de la ‘Pax Americana‘. Washington llegó incluso a hablar de “guerras de elección” y “guerras necesarias”, abandonando la tradicional división entre guerra justa e injusta. La realidad, sin embargo, ha terminado por imponerse. El ascenso de China ha hecho entender a EEUU que, para contener al coloso, no tiene más remedio que concentrarse en el Pacífico y dejarse pelos en la gatera en otros grandes escenarios estratégicos.

Hagamos un breve repaso de los acontecimientos más destacados en la agenda internacional del año que termina para perfilar los escenarios que se convertirán en los puntos candentes de 2014. Leer más…

 

Publicado en El Confidencia el 30 de diciembre de 2013, http://www.elconfidencial.com