Se confirman las deficiencias de ambos: McCain y Obama

Ninguno de los dos candidatos parece calificado a gobernar Estados Unidos. En su primer debate, Obama y McCain hablaron 30 minutos de la crisis de Wall Street y del plan de rescate al sistema financiero que la administración Bush está negociando con el Congreso, pero ninguno de los dos candidatos supo dibujar una estrategia. Ni siquiera daban la impresión de entender la problemática ni los mecanismos del plan de rescate. Hasta George W. Bush, en sus llamados de aprobar el paquete financiero de 700 mil millones de dólares, parecía más competente.

No sé si no saben o si no quieren decir, porque no saben qué tan popular resultará esta inversión inmensa de dinero público al sector financiero. Puede ser que los dos sean incompetentes, puede ser que los dos no tienen el valor de proponer soluciones audaces. Sea como sea, este debate reveló que Estados Unidos tiene una crisis política mucho más grave que la mediocridad de su actual presidente, George W. Bush.

El otro problema central es la guerra. Más bien, las guerras. Ninguno de los dos candidatos da la impresión de tener un concepto de cómo llevar a buen término las guerras en Irak y en Afganistán. Para McCain parece un cosa de honor “ganar” en Irak. Pero no da ninguna respuesta a la interrogante ¿Qué significa ganar?

Obama quiere sacar las tropas de Irak para mandarlas a Afganistán --¡y probablemente a Pakistán!--, pero no define en qué situación hay que dejar a ambos países. Nadie define los conceptos de ‘éxito.’

Obama tiene razón en decir que fue un error haber invadido a Irak. Pero esto no lo califica a llevar a buen término esta guerra. McCain tiene razón a decir que abandonar a Irak y dejarlo a su suerte sería irresponsable, pero no dice nada que indique que tenga una idea de cómo crear una situación que permita salir.

Si esto fue el debate entre los dos hombres más calificados para gobernar la superpotencia Estados Unidos, estamos mal. Hablo en primera persona, porque las decisiones de cualquiera de estos dos hombres que se ocupe la Casa Blanca, van a afectar a todo el mundo.

¿Esto fue el grado de reflexión del liderazgo americano sobre la problemática de la inclusión a la OTAN de países que se desprendieron de la Unión Soviética? Ojala que los socios europeos tengan la sabiduría de compensar la falta de comprensión del próximo presidente de Estados Unidos, llámese Obama o McCain. Ojala que en el Congreso de Estados Unidos haya senadores y diputados suficiente poderosos para evitar que Obama se meta a Pakistán o McCain provoque una guerra en Ucrania...

El hecho que ninguno de los dos ni siquiera mencionó a China ni a América Latina en este debate sobre política exterior y seguridad, fue explicado por los comentaristas en Washington por la falta de tiempo, ya que se impuso el tema de Wall Street. Pero un hombre con una concepción integral del mundo no necesita que el moderador le pregunte sobre China o sobre América del Sur. El problema es que ninguno de los dos candidatos tiene una concepción integral del mundo que le permita definir estrategias y metas específicas. De ahí que no hay definición de ‘éxito’ o “gobernabilidad’ para Irak o Afganistán.

La pregunta principal --¿Cómo crear un mundo con equilibrios de poder, para que a futuro nadie espere que Estados Unidos actúe como superpotencia y gendarme global (y para que nadie les permita actuar así)?-- ni siquiera se formuló en el debate presidencial sobre política exterior.

What the World Wants to Know

Well, there’s supposed to be a presidential debate tonight in Oxford, Miss. And it’s supposed to be about foreign policy. With that in mind, the Op-Ed editors asked leaders and writers from around the world to pose questions they’d like to hear John McCain and Barack Obama answer.

How would you work with America’s allies in the Muslim world to turn around the widely held misperception there, as evidenced in opinion polls, that the global war against terrorism is actually a war against Islam?

ASIF ALI ZARDARI, the president of Pakistan

Many developing countries — mine included — have made sacrifices to carry out tough economic reforms and have sought “trade and not aid.” To succeed, we need to compete on a level playing field with more developed economies. Is the United States ready to shoulder some of the burden by advocating the elimination or tempering of protectionism and subsidies? The United Nations by itself, with its faults and many achievements, does not lead. Nation-states do. American commitment and leadership is a must for effective multilateral cooperation. Will you demonstrate a renewed commitment to multilateralism and the rule of international law? Will you negotiate actively to agree on a post-Kyoto treaty on global warming and seek to join the United Nations Human Rights Council? Lastly, what would you do to regain the trust of your allies who would like to see the United States engaging in respectful dialogue and leading the way in the fight not merely against terrorism — which must be done — but also against world hunger, poverty, inequality and disease?

MICHELLE BACHELET, the president of Chile


American foreign policy is now inextricably tied to the financial situation in the United States and to the image this crisis gives the country in the eyes of the world. How, for example, will this financial tsunami change your Iraq policy and its timetable? How will you manage both the horribly high cost of rescuing the banking system and the no less exorbitant cost of the American military presence in Baghdad? What will you say to all those countries the United States has so long lectured on the right way to govern their economies and that now see that America has refused its own medicine? The rest of the world is absorbing America’s deficits. How do you plan to convince them to continue doing so as though nothing has happened? Has the place of America in the world changed in your view? Can its role be the same? Will the America you are going to lead still be the great power it was before last week?

BERNARD-HENRI LÉVY, the author of “Left in Dark Times: A Stand Against the New Barbarism”


Do you view China simply as an emerging great power, or as an emerging great power with a conflicting ideology? And how will this perception shape your China policy?

HU SHULI, the editor of the Chinese business magazine Caijing


Why do you think that terrorism is the No. 1 strategic threat to the United States? How does it compare to the threat from an economic meltdown, from an environmental catastrophe, or from another nation? Should the United States continue to put hundreds of times more effort and investment into Afghanistan than into Pakistan, Egypt or Iran? China is now too wealthy and powerful to be intimidated by the United States. What are America’s interests in the Asia-Pacific region? How should you protect them?

RORY STEWART, the author of “The Places in Between,” a former British foreign service officer, and the chief executive of Turquoise Mountain, a foundation in Afghanistan


When their presidencies began, both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush were enthusiastic toward Russia, but by the end relations were decidedly cooler. What measures can you propose that would ensure that your presidency ends more constructively? How can the United States encourage transformation in the new independent states, especially Ukraine and Georgia, without further alienating Russia?

LILIA SHEVTSOVA, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Moscow


Do you think the American embargo of Cuba is a mistake? Does the ascension of Raúl Castro, Fidel Castro’s brother, represent an opportunity to open relations with that country? Wouldn’t better relations with Cuba help neutralize Hugo Chávez, whose anti-Americanism is finding support in Latin America?

ENRIQUE KRAUZE, the editor of the magazine Letras Libres and the author of “Mexico: Biography of Power”


How do you plan to formulate American policy with respect to the nuclear ambitions of North Korea and Iran? In particular, what steps would you take to deal with North Korea’s nuclear threat if its regime collapses? In what specific ways would you try to lower the United States’ carbon dioxide emissions to achieve the goals each of you have outlined in your campaigns?

YOICHI FUNABASHI, the editor of the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun


The Group of 8 was set up as a steering committee of the world’s most powerful economies. Do you believe that to make globalization work, such a steering committee is required? If so, do you believe that the group in its current configuration, without the presence of the major emerging economies, fits the bill? Deforestation, which causes at least 20 percent of global greenhouse-gas emissions each year, is a leading cause of climate change. The world needs to protect its rain forests — for example in the Congo and Amazon basins — but not at the expense of the desperately poor people who live in them. Do you believe that any plan to combat climate change must include measures to compensate the people of the world’s tropical rainforests, to make these forests more valuable standing rather than cut down?

PAUL MARTIN, the prime minister of Canada from 2003 to 2006


Free trade and immigration have made the United States the world’s richest nation. But many of your country’s friends worry that you may react to the current financial crisis, and to a rise in protectionist sentiment and immigrant-bashing, by turning inward. As president, would you work to allow freer movement of guest workers and trade in our hemisphere? Would you support the continuation and expansion of the North American Free Trade Agreement? Mexico is a thriving democracy that buys more goods and products from the United States than do the four leading economies of Europe combined, while President Felipe Calderón leads an all-out war on narco-traffickers to make our country safer. Given this progress, do you support the $1.4 billion package to fight narco-terrorism that Presidents Bush and Calderón proposed last year? Shouldn’t we mutually strengthen our countries, rather than feuding about issues that divide us, like immigration?

VICENTE FOX, the president of Mexico from 2000 to 2006


How would you work to restructure the United Nations to make it more representative as well as more effective? Clearly, the makeup of the Security Council is anachronistic. Would you support the expansion of its permanent membership to include (among other countries) Brazil, India, Japan and South Africa?

RAMACHANDRA GUHA, the author of “India After Gandhi”


It is important to know not only what the next president will do, but also why he will do it. I am somewhat puzzled by the absence of “why” questions in the presidential campaign. Why, for example, do you, Mr. McCain, advocate the expulsion of Russia from the Group of 8? Do you believe that this will change Moscow’s behavior? Or do you believe that undemocratic states should not be members of the group? Also, why do both of you support Georgia’s and Ukraine’s membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization? Do you believe this policy would expand the West’s sphere of influence? Are you convinced that it would be good for the alliance, or do you think NATO has lost its centrality in American foreign policy? Is it possible that each of you advocates the same policy for very different reasons?

IVAN KRASTEV, the editor of the Bulgarian edition of Foreign Policy magazine


(New York Times)

Errores que alimentan polémicas

(Siguiente Página reproduce esta columna, no tanto por el contenido específico, sino por los criterios sobre periodismo de opinión en ella discutidos)

Francisco Espinosa Maestre, historiador y coordinador del proyecto Todos los nombres y autor del Informe sobre la represión franquista enviado al juez Baltasar Garzón -que le permitió a éste redactar la providencia en la que recaba información sobre muertes y enterramientos posteriores al 17 de julio de 1936 a distintos organismos públicos- está indignado con este diario. El episodio tiene que ver con la publicación de su artículo De fosas y desaparecidos, el pasado 10 de septiembre en La cuarta página de la sección de Opinión.

El artículo lo envió por iniciativa propia el pasado día 8 y se publicó el día 10. En el texto había una alteración. En uno de los párrafos finales el autor había escrito: "El objetivo de este llamado movimiento por la memoria no son los responsables de los crímenes cometidos ni montar otra Causa General ahora de signo contrario". Pero apareció lo siguiente: "El objetivo de este llamado movimiento por la memoria no es descubrir ni mucho menos castigar a los responsables de los crímenes cometidos, ni tampoco montar otra Causa General, ahora de signo contrario". La letra negrita marca la alteración entre las dos frases.

La idea de la frase alterada fue recogida en el subtítulo del artículo que decía así: El objetivo del movimiento por la memoria no es castigar a los responsables de la represión de la dictadura sino identificar a las víctimas, facilitar la información a sus familiares y permitir su digna sepultura. Este subtítulo era responsabilidad de la redacción, como es habitual.

Al día siguiente, 11 de septiembre, el diario publicó una carta de una lectora, María M. Lorenzo, que concluía así: "Que Francisco Espinosa Maestre tenga que salir, en la edición de EL PAÍS del día 10, a explicar que "no se trata de castigar a los culpables", sino de encontrar la verdad para los deudos, es una afirmación posiblemente necesaria, pero verdaderamente sorprendente proviniendo de un país que ha juzgado y condenado a nacionales de otros, sin que los delitos cometidos tuvieran ninguna relación material con España ni con españoles".

Francisco Espinosa envió ese mismo día una carta al diario en la que pedía una nota de rectificación en la que constase la frase modificada y la original.

El diario publicó el día 12 una fe de errores en la que, lacónicamente, recogía la frase alterada que se publicó y la que debía haberse publicado.

Ello generó una nueva carta del autor, que no fue publicada, y que decía así: "Veo la fe de errores que incluyen hoy en el periódico en referencia a mi artículo De fosas y desaparecidos. Se trata de una nueva vuelta de tuerca: no sólo alguien manipuló el artículo sino que ahora lo encubren presentándolo como un error. Y todo ello hecho sin que nadie asuma responsabilidad alguna y sin dirigirse en momento alguno al afectado. Le diré más. Frente a lo mantenido por su viejo Libro de Estilo en el sentido de que los artículos de opinión 'no serán retocados salvo por razones de ajuste o errores flagrantes' mi artículo fue retocado en numerosas ocasiones sin que se dieran esas circunstancias. Retocado y, lo que es mucho peor, falsificado con intención de perjudicar al autor. ¿Dice algo su Libro de estilo sobre esta posibilidad o es que acaso ni siquiera se contempla?".

El autor de la modificación, Javier Valenzuela, un responsable de la sección de Opinión, reconoce que cometió un error al retocar el artículo. "Creí de buena fe que esta ligera ampliación de la frase hacía más preciso el pensamiento del autor; deduje que el profesor Espinosa pensaba que el objetivo del movimiento por la memoria no es el castigo de los autores de los crímenes de la Guerra Civil. Me equivoqué. Me he puesto en contacto personalmente con el autor para darle las explicaciones oportunas y solicitarle disculpas". De haberlo hecho desde un primer momento, se habría ahorrado la correspondencia de protestas del autor y otros lectores recibidas por el Defensor y una polémica en Internet que el autor del artículo considera que le ha perjudicado.

El "viejo" Libro de Estilo, como lo califica el lector, sigue siendo una norma de obligado cumplimiento aunque se ignore demasiado a menudo. Sus escuetas recomendaciones no son caprichosas. Cualquier alteración de un texto, que no sean erratas o errores manifiestos, debe ser consultada con el autor. Hoy en día con correos electrónicos y teléfonos móviles la consulta es muy rápida. Si no se sigue el protocolo se producen casos como éste, donde el juicio de intenciones se impone sobre los hechos. Personalmente no creo que hubiera la más mínima intención de perjudicar al autor por parte del redactor de Opinión. Sin embargo, si no se atiende personalmente y de inmediato la queja de un autor y se le dan las explicaciones correspondientes es probable que el episodio adquiera una dimensión distinta. Otros lectores, en indudable sintonía con el profesor Espinosa, han creído ver en el episodio una oscura maniobra. Nada hay de ello. Sirva este episodio para deshacer los juicios de intenciones y conocer un poco más la tensión latente en la polémica de las fosas y los desaparecidos.

Los lectores pueden escribir al Defensor del Lector por carta o correo electrónico (defensor@elpais.es), o telefonear al número 91 337 78 36.

(El País, Madrid, 21 de septiembre 2008. El autor es Defensor del Lector en El País, un redactor encargado exclusivamente de recbir, contestar y comentar las quejas, críticas y propuestas de los lectores)

Dear Iraqi Friends

From: President George W. Bush

To: President Jalal Talabani of Iraq, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, Speaker Mahmoud al-Mashadani

Dear Sirs, I am writing you on a matter of grave importance. It’s hard for me to express to you how deep the economic crisis in America is today. We are discussing a $1 trillion bailout for our troubled banking system. This is a financial 9/11. As Americans lose their homes and sink into debt, they no longer understand why we are spending $1 billion a day to make Iraqis feel more secure in their homes.

For the past two years, there has been a debate in this country over whether to set a deadline for a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. It seemed as if the resolution of that debate depended on who won the coming election. That is no longer the case. A deadline is coming. American taxpayers who would not let their money be used to subsidize their own companies — Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns and Merrill Lynch — will not have their tax dollars used to subsidize your endless dithering over which Iraqi community dominates Kirkuk.

Don’t misunderstand me. Many Americans and me are relieved by the way you, the Iraqi people and Army have pulled back from your own brink of self-destruction. I originally launched this war in pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. I was wrong. But it quickly became apparent that Al Qaeda and its allies in Iraq were determined to make America fail in any attempt to build a decent Iraq and tilt the Middle East toward a more democratic track, no matter how many Iraqis had to be killed in the process. This was not the war we came for, but it was the one we found.

Al Qaeda understood that if it could defeat America in the heart of the Arab-Muslim world, that it would resonate throughout the region and put Al Qaeda and its allies in the ascendant. Conversely, we understood that if we could defeat Al Qaeda in Iraq, in collaboration with other Arabs and Muslims, that it would resonate throughout the region and pay dividends. Something very big was at stake here. We have gone a long way toward winning that war.

At the same time, I also came to realize that in helping Iraqis organize elections, we were facilitating the first ever attempt by the people of a modern Arab state to write their own social contract — rather than have one imposed on them by kings, dictators or colonial powers. If Iraqi Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds can forge your own social contract, then some form of a consensual government is possible in the Arab world. If you can’t, it is kings and dictators forever — with all the pathologies that come with that. Something very big is at stake there, too.

It’s not the stakes that have changed. It is the fact that you are now going to have to step up and finish this job. You have presumed an endless American safety net to permit you to endlessly bargain and dicker over who gets what. I’ve been way, way too patient with you. That is over. We bought you time with the surge to reach a formal political settlement and you better use it fast, because it is a rapidly diminishing asset.

You Shiites have got to bring the Sunni tribes and Awakening groups, who fought the war against Al Qaeda of Iraq, into the government and Army. You Kurds have got to find a solution for Kirkuk and accept greater integration into the Iraqi state system, while maintaining your autonomy. You Sunnis in government have got to agree to elections so the newly emergent Sunni tribal and Awakening groups are able to run for office and become “institutionalized” into the Iraqi system.

So pass your election and oil laws, spend some of your oil profits to get Iraqi refugees resettled and institutionalize the recent security gains while you still have a substantial U.S. presence. Read my lips: It will not be there indefinitely — even if McCain wins.

Our ambassador, Ryan Crocker, has told me your problem: Iraqi Shiites are still afraid of the past, Iraqi Sunnis are still afraid of the future and Iraqi Kurds are still afraid of both.

Well, you want to see fear. Look in the eyes of Americans who are seeing their savings wiped out, their companies disappear, their homes foreclosed. We are a different country today. After a decade of the world being afraid of too much American power, it is now going to be treated to a world of too little American power, as we turn inward to get our house back in order.

I still believe a decent outcome in Iraq, if you achieve it, will have long-lasting, positive implications for you and the entire Arab world, although the price has been way too high. I will wait for history for my redemption, but the American people will not. They want nation-building in America now. They will not walk away from Iraq overnight, but they will not stay there in numbers over time. I repeat: Do not misread this moment. God be with you.

George W. Bush.

(The New York Times)