Go to the Madrid office's page
Go to the Madrid office's blog in Spanish
Power can be exercised directly, by submitting an issue to a vote, or more subtly, by eliminating all discussion on a policy and its alternatives from public discourse. What is not talked about does not exist. This is why politicians devote so much energy to controlling the public agenda. This was the way things were in the EU with regard to austerity. But in less than a week the dykes have broken and we are awash in discussion. As with any sudden change, it is easier to explain it after the fact than to predict it before.
In the last two years many voices have been raised in favor of a change of strategy. Yet they always came to nothing. They failed mainly because the people these messages were addressed to might question the legitimacy of those who proposed a change of course. On the one hand, messages from across the Atlantic were rejected on the grounds that the US and the EU
Spanish development aid is to be cut by 1.580 billion euros, which is a 70-percent reduction. This is in sharp contrast with the cutbacks in other areas of state expenditure, which average 17 percent. International cooperation, which represented 0.4 percent of GDP, will now fall to 0.26 percent, levels last seen in 2002. Needless to say, the development community has been horrified by this move, which will set back our compliance with the UN objective of devoting 0.7 percent of GDP to development by a decade.
The government is cutting back cooperation expenditure for the simple reason that it can. In a democracy, votes are the bottom line. Politics is, after all, a marketplace where the politicians seek to maximize their profits, or minimize the adverse costs of their decisions. In the case of aid, apart from a small minority of professionals, who are lifers in the development
Barack Obama received a poisoned legacy from his predecessor. Though distinguishing between Iraq as a war “of choice” and Afghanistan as a “necessary” conflict, in both cases he promised a pull-out. The first withdrawal has already taken place, and was certainly more honourable than Obama could have imagined. The withdrawal from Iraq does not make up for the disaster of the invasion in the first place, validate the subsequent loss of life or even leave a stable democracy behind; but it does allow for a turn of the page, a budget reduction in time of crisis, and a concentration on the real objective: Pacific Asia.
The second withdrawal is also underway, with a military deadline (2014) and a political schedule that seems to be just about working out. To negotiate with the Taliban, who shielded Bin Laden, might not seem to be the best way of closing the September 11 case, but seen
The scandalous complacency with the Syrian regime shown by the Arab League’s observation mission has an upside: it points to the awakening of a culture of human rights protection in an international organization that has always stood for contempt for democracy and human rights, and in parallel for rejection of any foreign interference.
The profile of the mission chief could hardly be more unfortunate. He is Mustafa al-Dabi, ex head of military intelligence for the Sudanese president, Omar al-Bashir — who, remember, has an International Criminal Court arrest warrant against him for his role in the Darfur genocide. If there is anyone, the human rights organizations say, who has shown that using the army to repress the civilian population is legitimate, then General Dabi is certainly that person.
Bashar al-Assad’s blindness is such that he has not even profited from the
Europeans are losing faith in the EU
Europe can rescue the two-state solution
27 countries in search of a proper security strategy
How Europe can help Egypt
Understanding the influence of the Gulf States
A new era for EU-Georgia relations?
What next for Egypt, Tunisia and Libya?
What does China think about the island dispute?
A comprehensive evaluation of European foreign policy
How the euro crisis has affected politics in 14 EU member states
Do EU sanctions work?