Londres, o la razón de la sinrazón (25.5.13)

25 05 2013

Fuente: noticias.terra.com.mx

Entre el ataque sufrido por un militar el pasado miércoles en Londres, perpetrado por nigerianos islamistas, y los cometidos por Mohamed Merah en Francia hace un año, existen bastantes similitudes, hasta el punto de poder reconocer en ambos el mismo patrón de comportamiento. Aunque el atentado de Londres fuera bastante más básico, en cierto modo ha conseguido mejor su objetivo. La comparativa entre los dos nos permitirá comprender qué perseguían estos asesinos, aparentemente simples dementes, y cuáles pueden ser sus consecuencias.

Hay que tener en cuenta que el terrorismo islámico suní no es un movimiento homogéneo o uniforme, excepto en el aspecto “doctrinal”. El nombre “Al Qaeda” (القعيدة), que significa literalmente “la base”, es tremendamente elocuente: más que una organización operativa y ejecutiva (aunque también cumple esa función), es una base ideológica y en cierto grado financiera y formativa de la que se nutren los diversos grupos terroristas que defienden la ideología suní[1], desde los poderosos Al-Shabaab o Boko Haram hasta las pequeñas células de Filipinas o Indonesia. También captan a individuos aislados que, sin unirse a ningún grupo, se radicalizan y se preparan para llevar a cabo ataques pequeños pero llenos de significado.

Esta operativa de lobos solitarios es especialmente útil en Europa, donde la actividad de células enteras difícilmente pasa inadvertida. Estos individuos no tienen por qué tener contacto con Al Qaida o sus misioneros o afiliados. De hecho, es raro que algún miembro de Al Qaida contacte directamente con estos individuos en proceso de radicalización. El adoctrinamiento Se hace en mezquitas, madrasas y, especialmente, a través de internet. A partir de ahí, la mayoría de los radicalizados no harán más que dejarse barba y no volver a beber alcohol, pero unos pocos deciden dar el paso y se convierten en terroristas.

No es necesario que los radicalizados se entrenen en campos de Al Qaeda. Merah lo hizo en Afganistán (y ya había recibido formación militar en el ejército francés), pero para atacar a sus objetivos no es imprescindible. Estos objetivos son aislados y desprotegidos, pero altamente simbólicos. Así como Merah mató a judíos y miembros del Ejército francés en situaciones imprevistas, en las cuales no podían defenderse, los terroristas de Londres han matado a un militar. Su ataque, mucho menos profesional que los de Merah, puede parecer y probablemente sea espontáneo, pero en modo alguno ha sido improvisado. Su mensaje, tanto el hecho en sí como la posterior “rueda de prensa” ante las cámaras de los transeúntes, era parte de un plan muy meditado.

Los asesinos de Londres han triunfado en aquello en que Merah fracasó. Estos ataques solitarios tienen una doble finalidad: fomentar la yihad ofreciendo un modelo a los radicales no activos, y transmitir un mensaje a Occidente. Los ataques de Merah podían ser inspiradores, pero eran demasiado profesionales y requerían un equipamiento en armas y defensas personales al que pocos pueden aspirar, siendo por tanto más difíciles de emular. Por el contrario, atropellar y degollar a un militar es algo que cualquier persona que haya alcanzado cierto grado de salvajismo puede hacer. La segunda parte, con todo, es mucho más importante: los terroristas no huyeron como Merah, sino que se quedaron en el lugar de los hechos, no atacaron a los transeúntes y hasta pidieron perdón a las mujeres por lo que habían visto. Al no atacar a los civiles tiñeron su atrocidad de resistencia política legítima dirigida únicamente contra una “casta” y no contra el pueblo en general, y adoptaron una retórica justificativa y victimista que algunos ciudadanos occidentales pueden hasta aceptar, haciendo ver que los culpables son el Ejército y el Gobierno británico por “oprimir” a los musulmanes, y no los locos que casi decapitan a un hombre en plena calle.

Hechos como éste demuestran que el terrorismo islámico no plantea batalla a Occidente en el terreno social o militar, sino en el campo ideológico, donde sabe que será más fuerte cuanto más débiles o acomplejados sean los valores occidentales. La clave de la política antiterrorista no es por tanto la prevención en el plano de la mera ejecución de los atentados, porque es imposible (nadie puede evitar que un demente asalte en un momento imprevisible a un militar y lo degüelle) y porque no resuelve el problema. Sólo un contra-mensaje que refuerce la identidad y valores occidentales, sin complejos y sin apriorismos ideológicos, puede ser eficaz para imposibilitar estas actuaciones, al negarles un campo sobre el que cultivar la sangre de los inocentes.

Francisco Rivas


[1] Los islamistas chiíes suelen ser más homogéneos y centralizados, en parte porque su propia fe, con la doctrina de la emulación como base central, lo favorece, y en parte porque en general dependen mucho más del patrocinio de Irán.





« Monsieur l’Euro, tirez le premier »

21 02 2013

Currency war 2

Similar to what a French officer told his English counterpart at the battle of Fontenoy in 1745, the Eurozone is being engaged in a similar discourse in a very heated and ever-increasing protectionist global trend by other nations, involving consideration of new possible restrictive commercial mesures (despite WTO regulations) and also including what concerns this article, “currency wars” (also called competitive devaluation).

Among the many possible economic policies that a country may apply in its national interest, we find a well adapted and suitable currency exchange policy necessary. One of the main variables to consider is the intensity of commercial transactions with other countries, for example. It is purely a monetary policy instrument. During a recession, the central bank has the power of devaluating the country’s currency in favour of raising exports. This is done by increasing monetary supply in the system, which is strictly controlled by the central bank. As logical as this might sound, reality can be a harsh mistress and therefore it is more complicated than that. At the same time, both classical and Keynesian economic theoretical frameworks are way too restrictive to be applied urbi et orbi, so to speak. This means that these economic theories are mostly applied in a caeteris paribus environment and reality is seldom (if ever) so.

At our day and age, we find ourselves in a situation where it seems very tempting to play with currencies in favour of a country’s export industry. But be warned. During the last hundred years, there have been many episodes which should refrain from fulfilling Aristotle’s cyclical history theory, that is, to not repeat other protectionist or aggressive competitive currency devaluation. Basically, this distorts the stability of the market. One of the main goals of the International Monetary Fund is to guarantee the security of financial transactions around the world. Mademoiselle Christine Lagarde, IMF Managing Director, stated in the latest G20 summit in Moscow (according to the IMF press release) to refrain from these dangerous and unilateral decisions that can lead to “global imbalances” and that have an immediate effect on the overall negative impact of the already fragile and fractured world economy. It is important to emphasize here the term unilateral since international cooperation is right now an essential tool in order to reach global stability, in terms of commerce and financial transactions.

Nobody wants to repeat the traumatic post-WWI European experience again, which led to a vicious circle of economic depression due to major nationalist pressures to implement protectionist economic policies and which affected major powers all over the world (despite the relatively low level of global transactions compared to nowadays). Instability creates risky environments, which hinder investment and affect transaction of goods and services. All of this ultimately provokes a nasty impact on all major economic variables such as production, labour supply, salary,… In fine, economic development suffers. Due to the present worldwide economic crisis, fear can make countries take drastic and desperate measures, such as the ones mentioned before.

Jean-Marie Colombani expressed his concern in the Spanish newspaper El País by mentioning that even Monsieur François Hollande, President of the French Republic, advised the European Central Bank (ECB) to use its exchange rate currency. Reuters reports that Mario Draghi, President of the ECB, reminded that the institution’s major priority lays in price stability, but also stated the importance that exchange rates have over the latter (inflation). This comes at a time where the Euro has experienced a “15-month high against the dollar”, which may suggest considerate increase in confidence in the Euro. All-in-all, he dismissed the phenomenon of currency wars but nonetheless he made it clear that surveillance over Euro exchange rates with other currencies was necessary in order to not undermine the much-needed internal growth inside the Eurozone.

Cecilio Oviedo





Italy at vote: who will lead the “Bel Paese” out of the Crisis? (30.1.13)

30 01 2013

Fuente: noticierostelevisa.esmas.com

Just over a month and all entitled Italians in the World will have the right to vote for their Prime Minister and future leader. I say ‘will have the right to’ because absenteeism is a big issue, especially amongst the youth, after the ruins of the Berlusconi government. The lack of trust in the political institution is at its peak, and already having an acceptable amount of people voting-regardless of the result, if this can even be said-  will be an achievement. Clearly, though, who will be elected is more important than who votes. The people run the state. Yes, of course. Hardly in any democracy, surely not in Italy. So who will be the one? If the last victories of the BungaBunga man were not in doubt, today it is virtually impossible to identify a favourite in the fight to the top.

Left, Centre, Right are the three divisions, but the divisions within these three groups are infinite. The Left, under the wing of the ‘Partito Democratico’, lead by Pier Luigi Bersani, aims to finally win elections and then establish a solid government. Yes, because when Romano Prodi brought the Left to power in 2006 he lasted one year before surrendering, once again, to the Sex parties of Silvio. The ‘PD’ has just had its first round of elections, that saw Bersani confirm his leading role at the expense of the rising new name in Italian politics: Matteo Renzi, already Mayor of Florence. Even though Renzi represents a change in an apparently unchangeable political hierarchy, being only 35 years old and not a traditional Left-wing thinker, Bersani’s victory was clear, demonstrating once more how it is hard to reform Italian politics, with always the same faces around. Nonetheless, Bersani seems a valid candidate, leading a party that is beginning to find some sort of internal stability. Renzi, having lost, is still firmly supporting Bersani as candidate for Prime Minister, having rejected the tempting offers from the omnipresent Berlusconi and the idea of running on his own. Facing a Left that seems capable of winning is a confused Centre and an unpredictable Right.

Mario Monti is still the Prime Minister, leading the technical government established a year ago to sort out Silvio’s mess. Most Italians admit his cultural and technical knowledge, but the tax raising he claims necessary to save the country is becoming unbearable for an increasing amount of families. It is understandably not his fault, but Monti has become the emblem of the harsh taxes in Italy, and seems the one that will pay for it. Nonetheless, the country is showing a timid sign of economic recovering and this might favour an election of Monti as true Prime Minister. Officially he runs independently as I write, but it is out of doubt an alliance with the Centre party, ‘Unione di Centro’- the new version of the ‘Democrazia Cristiana’, that ruled Italy from the 1950s to the arrival of Berlusconi- lead by Pier Ferdinando Casini, another everlasting presence in Italian politics. This will define more clearly where Monti stands, probably guaranteeing him a precious amount of votes, but possibly also the loss of some favour from others. It seems to me that despite his intellectual level and undoubted capacities, the tax raising will weigh more on people’s minds, putting Monti in a secondary position in the elections.

Elections that, despite everything, see Silvio Berlusconi back on the scene. It does sound incredible, but the old man is still here, despite trials, parties and critics of all sorts. It was clear that his ‘Popolo delle Libertà’ had no chance of winning without its leader back in his place. And, incredibly enough, Berlusconi decided to fulfil his destiny once again. It’s impossible not to notice he’s back. In Television every day at every hour, friends with everyone again after a year of conflicts, Silvio is allied with the extremist ‘Lega Nord’ once again to try and win elections. And, surprisingly or not, he might manage. A nation that voted Berlusconi as Prime Minister for three times in a row is capable of anything. Yes, even electing him again. Hopefully for Italy, Europe, the World and the sake Mankind’s Rationality, this will be his ‘Waterloo’. Having failed and exiled himself out of the political scene for more than a year, he returns, hopefully and probably to lose once and for all. However, his popularity is high no matter what he does and his powers amongst the media remain enormous, making Silvio always a potential victor.

The situation of the country is harsh, with people on their knees, and these elections will make a difference for the future of Italy. Will it be BungaBunga for another mandate? Or will the Left finally stand up and take over? Or will Monti’s intellectual superiority convince people taxes are necessary? The hope is that whoever wins- leaving out Berlusconi- will be able to finally mark the history of modern Italy and resurrect the economy of a slowly dying nation. That has, nonetheless, unlimited potential for a luminous future.

Vieri Capretta





Towards a EUropean co-operation

27 01 2013

Source: EC/ECHO/SIMON HORNER

Source: EC/ECHO/SIMON HORNER

A European co-operation policy, more a need than a wish

 

Today we are in a challenging world. Traditional concepts such as politics, international relations, law and co-operation are not valid anymore. Our circumstances make us think globally as the threats are globally as well. The main objective of this paper is to show the reader how co-operation is treated in a European framework and to analyse the  real chances of a common European action.

Traditionally, development is usually seen as an instrument of economic growth (which is a key component of development but not development itself). Today has to be treated as a different matter. In the international arena development, safety and growth are interrelated and they have to be treated globally and together. In fact, the document Solana [1]”European security strategy” states that security is a precondition for development, but it is equally true that no development is impossible without safety. Thus, development and safety are equally important and indispensable to each other.

As we have seen, to talk about development we usually understand it primarily in economic terms but we need to consider other components like the political one. Therefore, although we tend to develop economically, we must also consider political development, rights, food, etc. For example, the case of China is very significant to appreciate this double character because, despite being a state that grows extremely in the economic field, its politic development seems to be paralised for decades.

To understand the EU position towards development[2] the Solana paper is a fundamental source. It explores the possibility of becoming a major player in international society without the need to be a military giant. It was approved on December 12, 2003, in Brussels, also receiving the designation of European Security Strategy (ESS) with the subtitle “A secure Europe in a better world.” The paper tries to analyse how Europe sees itself, how it perceives the world from the European Union, what will be the threats and risks to which it will be necessary to address and how to address them. Analysing the title we see:

“A Secure Europe …”  responds to the idea that this is an actor who will try to defend their own interests, both inside and outside the Union; “…In a better world” to allow a secure Europe there must be a better world and, therefore, the Union will try to help make this world possible not so much as an exercise in altruism or international solidarity but insofar as understands that security and development of the other becomes the very security-because it stop threats and risks.

The Solana document is to be understood as a reference document as there has been no other subsequent document. The text begins by recognising the reality that no country alone is capable of dealing with the threats that plague the world, which means a call to the international cooperation that is not nothing but the very essence of the Union – that considered in the document as a “global player”-. Moreover, it strikes repeatedly in the document on the idea that security is a precondition for development, although this claim could well formulated in reverse for the reasons repeatedly exposed. It is therefore difficult to understand why the emphasis is only on one side of the same coin, in safety.

Towards a European co-operation policy?

After the release of the Solana document begun an increasing discrepancy between legal definition in the treaties, political rhetoric[3] and reality. Nonetheless, it is important to underline some progress that determine the basis after the Lisbon Treaty, as it will commented afterwards, and the near future. First, the ability to negotiate has been proven by enlarging the EU to the western former communist countries and improving cooperation with southern countries[4]. Furthermore, southerns countries see the EU as an important ally in all senses. This may be obvious, but in terms of strategical position of the EU is a key point: to be seen as a unique actor more than a group of countries. This situation puts the EU in good position in order to be an efficient player towards developing countries. After saying this, the reality shows that the political intentions and even the mentioned advantages are restricted by a legal frameworks which make a coordinated action truly difficult.

The Lisbon Treaty tries to eliminate legal obstacles clarifying decission-making procedures. In this sense the title III, chapter I of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) ennounces the priority of the developing policies for the EU. Nonetheless, some dispositions remember the lacking of a real common policy. For exemple in article 209.2 TFEU, after considering the cooperation policy as an area subject to the ordinary legislative procedure[5], the unilateral role of the member states is remembered, when negotiating and celebrating international pacts. Therefore we can argue that the EU developing policy will remain as an important aspect of the EU’s external relations, but member states have a decisive role.

However, the Lisbon Treaty is not only a declaration of intentions. As a result, several efforts have been done remarkably the creation of the Development and Cooperation-Europe Aid Directorate-General (DG)[6]. This office is not only positive because of its purpose but specially because this way cohesion between member states has been improved. The DG is responsible for designing EU development policies and delivering aid through programmes and projects across the world[7]. The idea of having a “one stop shop” is not only important, but decisive to elaborate a common development co-operation policy. This enables intra and extra-comunitarian actors to have a single organism to deal with.

Beginning with the intra communitarian actors, the EU-Aid DG offers the possibility of having a single contact point towards other institutions and offices. This is specially relevant regarding the Commission, as promoter and coordinator of EU policies, and the European External Action Service (EEAS). The creation of the DG is also very important to approve the policies: as a part of the EU Commission this DG is responsible of putting a proposal of act or policy on the Council’s table.

These changes are welcome and their results are beginning. Since the first progress report on Policy Coherence for Development[8] (PCD) the Commission has focused its efforts on five crucial points of the millenium objectives: trade and finance, climate change, food security, migration and security. The actual Policy Coherence for Development Work Programme  was created in 2010 and the last report of the Commission date year 2011[9]. Every two years the Commission reports on the policies held by EU-organisms and by member states entities if enabled by national law.

How does all these mechanisms affect Member States and their national development policy? The Spanish case is very ilustrative. The national government has included in actual master plan of development policies some mechanisms promoted by Lisbon and seen as a good practise by the Commission[10]. The master plan includes the integration of the EU-Aid DG analysis and respect the priority areas defined by this organism. It also asures the monitoring of the DG in the activities of the national organism and the inclusion of the transversal principles described in the last Development Work Programme (2010).

Conclusions: “Traveller there is no path, the path is made by walking[11]

The development must be understood beyond the economic sphere, as a fundamental way to achieve sustainable growth globally. This means that EU depends on their environment, their neighbourhood to achieve growth. However, we are currently in a framework in which all previous models are not meaningful because we no longer speak of poor and rich states but whole regions affected by poverty and other threats like pandemics; development needs are no longer easily identifiable with a territory or population. Such an internationalisation of threats requires a supranational approach and the EU is aware of that as shown in Document Solana or the improvements of the Lisbon Treaty. The tendency is without any doubt positive, each year national competences in development policies are being transferred to the EU, which is the most indicate to make efficient and effective interventions.

This evolution has illuminated co-operation policies, having today priority.  This evolution is extremely important because it avoids an instrumentalization of the co-operation policy in relation to the CFSP. Slowly, the decission-makers are realising that development is a essential condition for pace and stability[12]. The path is hard but, is there any other possibility in our times?

 David Jódar Huesca

Bibliography:

 

  • Mold, Andrew. EU Development Policy in a Changing World. 1st ed. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2007. 29-66. Print.


[1] (2003, December). A secure Europe in a better wold – European security strategy. Retrieved November 6, 2012, from http://consilium.europa.eu Web site: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cmsUpload/78367.pdf

[2] And as a result towards security.

[3] As shown before in the explanation of the Solana document.

[4] Nonetheless, it may be considered that the interest in southern countries is due to the necessity of energy, raw materials, primary materials, minerals, etc. In other words: the EU needs the South in order to become a global power.

[5] This disposition without the following clause could have been a very positive aspect.

[6] This DG was stablished on January 3rd 2011 with the main objetive of simplifying communication between different actors and of programming and implementing aid.

[9] This means that both, program and report is going to be published during year 2013.

[11] Antonio Machado

[12] In all senses





¿Es posible una geopolítica para España? (III)

25 11 2012

La vigencia de Mella

Vázquez de Mella fue recibido por sus adversarios políticos contemporáneos con burla y condescendencia: «Y si me decís que es soñar, que es sueño ideológico buscar la realización de estos ideales, os diré que ese sueño lo están realizando todas las naciones de la tierra. El pangermanismo significa ese dominio de razas sobre el territorio que habitan sus naturales; el panhelenismo significa la tendencia a querer dominar las islas del Mar Egeo y todas aquellas que llevan el sello helénico; aquellos estados Balcánicos que son nada más que naciones incipientes, tratan de completar su nacionalidad sobre porciones de Turquía; lo tiene Finlandia y todos los países que se extienden a lo largo del Báltico, donde, a pesar de los vendavales moscovitas, no se ha podido extinguir el germen y la flora de las nacionalidades indígenas; lo tiene Inglaterra, rama germánica que se asienta y domina por su territorio sobre los países célticos. Todos buscan su autonomía geográfica; todos aspiran a que se complete el dominio del territorio nacional. ¿Y será aquí, como dicen, sueño romántico, vago idealismo, cosa quimérica, lo que pretendo yo?»

Los “dogmas nacionales” no fueron un brindis al sol, una idea peregrina que se quedara en el tintero. Pocos años antes los había consignado Carlos VII, perdedor de la tercera guerra carlista, en su testamento político: «Gibraltar español, unión con Portugal, Marruecos para España, confederación con nuestras antiguas colonias, es decir, integridad, honor y grandeza; he aquí el legado que, por medios justos, yo aspiraba a dejar a mi patria.» La restauración del Imperio español, cuyos restos perdieron ―sin mucho interés― los gobiernos de Alfonso XII, estaba en el mismo centro del programa político de Carlos VII. Y no era una consigna oportunista lanzada por alguien que ya nada tenía que perder, pues aquel nuevo Don Carlos que durante varios años comandó ejércitos, acuñó moneda, y reinó efectivamente sobre una porción del norte de España, ya ofreció en 1875, en plena guerra, una “tregua patriótica” a su primo y adversario cuando las rebeliones en Cuba amenazaban ―preludio de 1898― con involucrar a los Estados Unidos en una guerra contra España: «se trata de la integridad de la patria y todos sus hijos deben defenderla, que cuando la patria peligra desaparecen los partidos; sólo quedan españoles.»

Los gobiernos de la España actual poco o nada tienen que ver con Carlos VII y Vázquez de Mella. Pero la geopolítica, como muchos otros países han sabido comprender, debe trascender regímenes, ideologías, partidos y “proyectos”. Las proposiciones de Mella serían hoy recibidas con las mismas objeciones que encontraron en su día: «sueño romántico, vago idealismo, cosa quimérica». ¿Pero no será esta actitud disfraz para el miedo a tomar la iniciativa? ¿O quizá no convenga a unos “intereses de España” que sólo son los de unos pocos? Incluso habrá quien grite ¡imperialismo! y rasgue sus vestiduras, sin comprender que la presencia española en América nunca tuvo el carácter de explotación colonial que tuvieron los posteriores imperialismos europeos: el mestizaje, fenómeno único de la América hispana, da fe de la absoluta singularidad de su vocación misionera. Pero aquí no se trata de escrutar el pasado para justificarlo o condenarlo, ni supone la federación de Mella un apego a las formas “virreinales”. Se trata de abrir nuevas vías adecuadas a las circunstancias de cada momento para una mayor cooperación política entre los países que integran la Hispanidad, de dar formas apropiadas a una necesidad latente de aproximación que sentimos todos los hispanos, pero que no acertamos a materializar por recelos pseudo-históricos o porque, todavía apegados a la funesta ideología nacionalista, no concebimos fórmulas políticas de unión que no supongan la dominación imperialista de una nación sobre otra.

Las directrices que según Mella deben guiar la geopolítica española no son quiméricas ni anacrónicas, y la coyuntura actual puede proporcionar terreno fértil. Es verdad que ya no vivimos en la época del pangermanismo y el irredentismo de finales del siglo XIX, pero sí en la de la globalización. La crisis del Estado-nación autosuficiente y exclusivista parece estar consumada. Los gobiernos recientes de España han querido sumarse al impulso europeo de integración, pero esto no implica que se deba renunciar a perseguir la integración en otras direcciones, engarzando con estas perennes líneas directrices de nuestra geopolítica que dirigen nuestra mirada hacia países con los que compartimos todavía mayor afinidad que con los de nuestro entorno europeo. Un mísero océano de por medio  ―o dos―  no fue obstáculo hace quinientos años: hoy debería serlo aún menos.

¿Es posible, pues, una geopolítica para España? Inequívocamente, sí. ¿Es factible llevarla a cabo? También. Pero para hacerlo no basta con cambiar nuestra política exterior. Debemos aprender a afrontarla de otra manera. Alguna vez se ha comparado la presidencia de los Estados Unidos de Norteamérica con la labor del timonel de un portaaviones: el corto plazo de un mandato, incluso de dos, puede a lo sumo aspirar a cambiar muy ligeramente hacia un lado u otro el rumbo que el buque ya lleva impreso. Si España sigue desatendiendo las directrices que deberían inspirar su geopolítica, de acuerdo con su geografía y su historia, y persiste en cambiar su política exterior a capricho del “proyecto” que persiga cada gobierno, o según soplen los vientos de las grandes potencias u organizaciones mundiales, se encontrará ―continuando el símil― capitaneando un pequeño velero que, con un leve toque de timón y una fácil maniobra de botavara, puede trasluchar y cambiar su rumbo en ciento ochenta grados, tantas veces como quiera. Pero mientras navega describiendo un serpenteo inconstante que no lleva a ningún puerto, el portaaviones sigue impasible su travesía. Y si algún día, por azar, el caprichoso manejo del velero lo lleva a interponerse en el rumbo del coloso… no hay duda de cuál de los dos prevalecerá.

FIN

E.P.C





¿Es posible una geopolítica para España? (II)

15 11 2012

Fuente: es.wikipedia.org

Quizá quien mejor penetrara las directrices geopolíticas de España a través de la Historia (pues ya en su época no presidían la política del Gobierno) fuera Juan Vázquez de Mella, diputado carlista y orador de renombre en las Cortes de la Restauración alfonsina, con sus llamados “dogmas nacionales”: el dominio del estrecho de Gibraltar, la federación con Portugal y la confederación tácita con los Estados americanos.

Las columnas de Hércules

Gibraltar, para Mella, es la clave. Dice en 1915:

«Y ved que el estrecho de Gibraltar es el punto central del planeta, que allí está escrito todo nuestro Derecho internacional; parece que Dios, previendo la ceguedad de nuestros estadistas y políticos parlamentarios, se lo ha querido poner delante de los ojos para que supiesen bien cuál era nuestra política internacional. Es el punto central del planeta: une cuatro continentes; une y relaciona el Continente africano con el Continente europeo; es el centro por donde pasa la gran corriente asiática y donde viene a comunicarse con las naciones mediterráneas toda la gran corriente americana; es más grande y más importante que el Skagerrakh y el Cattegat, que el gran Belt y el pequeño Belt, que al fin no dan paso más que a un mar interior, helado la mitad del tiempo; es más importante que el Canal de la Mancha, que no impide la navegación por el Atlántico y el Mar del Norte; es muy superior a Suez, que no es más que una filtración del Mediterráneo, que un barco atravesado con su cargamento puede cerrar, y que los Dardanelos, que, si se abrieran a la comunicación, no llevarían más que a un mar interior; y no tiene comparación con el Canal de Panamá, que corta un Continente.» [1]

Pero no se trata sólo de la soberanía sobre el Peñón, ni del territorio adicional ―más allá de lo concedido en el Tratado de Utrecht― que ha ido fagocitando Inglaterra en los siglos posteriores. Se trata también del riesgo que ha supuesto Gibraltar como base británica de contrabando y espionaje (apoyando numerosos pronunciamientos militares a lo largo de los siglos XIX y XX, incluido el de Riego, que desvió hacia Madrid un ejército dispuesto a zarpar hacia América para contener a los independentistas) y como centro de proliferación de armas nucleares [2]. Pero se trata, sobre todo, del Estrecho. La península ibérica es el extremo del continente europeo que envuelve y cierra su mar interior, custodiando su acceso: sin Gibraltar queda estratégicamente privada de esta función natural.

Portugal

La federación con Portugal guarda una estrecha relación con Gibraltar: «[Inglaterra] tiene que ser grande dominando el mar, y para dominar el mar necesita dominar el Mediterráneo, que sigue siendo el mar de la civilización, y para dominar el mar de la civilización necesita dominar el estrecho, y para dominar el estrecho necesita dominar la península ibérica, y para dominar la península ibérica necesita dividirla, y para dividirla necesita sojuzgar a Portugal y sojuzgarnos a nosotros en Gibraltar. Y eso ha hecho.» Portugal surge en la Reconquista como un condado enfeudado primero a Asturias y luego a León, independizándose como Reino en el siglo XII. Siguiendo la dinámica de federación dinástica de los demás reinos cristianos, la corona de Portugal llega a recaer pacíficamente en el rey de Castilla en dos ocasiones: con Juan I en 1383 y Felipe II en 1581. Las rebeliones que pondrán fin a ambos períodos de unión, inaugurando respectivamente las dinastías de Avís y de Braganza, recibirán el apoyo de Inglaterra. La separación entre España y Portugal, en palabras del historiador lisboeta Oliveira Martins, no parece responder a motivos culturales o geográficos: «¿Qué fronteras serán las nuestras que cortan perpendicularmente los ríos y las cordilleras?», sino a intereses políticos ajenos: «¿No será la Historia de la Restauración la nueva Historia de un país que, destruida la obra del Imperio ultramarino, surge en el siglo XVII, como en el nuestro aparece Bélgica para las necesidades del equilibrio europeo? ¿No vivimos desde 1641 bajo el protectorado de Inglaterra?»

De todas formas, el binomio España-Portugal ya es en sí mismo una distorsión lingüística de la realidad, confundiendo el todo con las partes. Porque el nombre de España, heredado de la Hispania romana que abarcaba toda la Península (y posteriormente también las provincias Balearica y Mauritania Tingitana), sólo vino a asociarse exclusivamente con los reinos de las coronas de Castilla y Aragón después de los centralismos de los siglos XVIII y XIX, cuando los días de unión ibérica eran ya un recuerdo remoto. Lo que hoy se conoce como España, ese Reino de España que con esta homogeneizadora denominación oficial de nuevo cuño inaugura un Estado que antes no era sino la colección de múltiples reinos bajo un mismo Rey, se ha apropiado injustamente de un nombre que correspondía a todos los integrantes de la Monarquía hispánica ―las Españas―, antes de que ésta se divorciara de Portugal en el siglo XVII y se disolviera en Estados-nación en el XIX. Por ello, la unión que propugnó Vázquez de Mella ―la única posible sin hacer injusticia a las partes― se había de llevar a cabo como un hermanamiento en pie de igualdad: «la conquista, jamás; la absorción, nunca; una federación», para que así se pudieran repetir las palabras de Saavedra Fajardo a los portugueses en 1640: «No deben desdeñarse los portugueses de que se junte aquella Corona con la de Castilla, pues de ella salió como Condado y vuelve a ella como Reino; y no a incorporarse y mezclarse con ella, sino a florecer a su lado sin que se pueda decir que tiene Rey extranjero, sino propio, pues no por conquista, sino por sucesión poseía el Reino y lo gobernaba con sus mismas leyes, estilos y lenguajes, no como castellanos sino como portugueses».

La federación para Vázquez de Mella no es el Estado federal de la doctrina constitucionalista que, siguiendo el modelo clásico de los Estados Unidos de Norteamérica, se “constituye” a golpe de pluma mediante una Constitución escrita que materializa simbólicamente la premisa ilustrada de que las sociedades no se forman mediante largos procesos históricos, sino que surgen de la nada a través de un contrato social que, legitimado exclusivamente por la voluntad de los vivientes, viene a regir la vida según un proyecto racional. Escribe el filósofo Rafael Gambra: «El Estado, en cambio, es, al menos de la Revolución a esta parte, esa estructuración “a priori” que propugnó el espíritu de la Ilustración. La Patria es siempre la misma o no varía sino por una lenta evolución; el Estado, en cambio, puede variar radicalmente de la noche a la mañana.» [3] Al contrario, Vázquez de Mella aprecia la auténtica federación histórica en el progresivo aglutinamiento multisecular de los diversos cuerpos sociales ―familia, municipio, gremio― en los que se integran los hombres concretos (a diferencia del hipotético hombre abstracto ―aquel Hombre y Ciudadano nacido en 1789― en torno al cual se construyen las constituciones modernas), federándose espontáneamente en entidades superiores para suplir las necesidades que no alcanzan las inferiores, éstas conservando en cierta medida su autonomía primigenia y aquéllas actuando subsidiariamente. El contrato social es una ficción filosófico-jurídica que sirve como premisa para explicar los sistemas constitucionales, mientras que la federación histórica es una consecuencia ineludible de la naturaleza sociable del hombre, avalada por la realidad y documentada en los anales de la Historia.

Esto se evidencia con especial claridad en la formación política de España, unión personal de varios reinos en un mismo monarca que debía jurar los fueros y respetar la estructura constitucional de cada uno de ellos. La unidad no era uniformidad, y la diversidad cultural no era obstáculo para la concordia política. Por otro lado, las doctrinas ilustradas puestas en práctica en la Revolución francesa equiparan a la nación ―realidad cultural asociada al lugar de nacimiento, sin connotaciones políticas― con el Estado, con la comunidad política. Los Estados plurinacionales (como el Imperio austríaco) o las naciones pluriestatales (como la italiana, antes de la unificación), ya no podían tener sentido. La aplicación de esta novedosa doctrina no resultaba excesivamente conflictiva en un Reino de Francia homogeneizado por la larga experiencia del centralismo absolutista, pero su exportación a otros países (y la Revolución tenía pretensiones de universalidad) no podía resultar tan armoniosa. Para la Monarquía hispánica fue, sencillamente, el suicidio.

América

Hoy, la Hispanidad como realidad cultural es un hecho innegable. Todos los que pertenecemos a ella sentimos unos vínculos más o menos estrechos con los demás. Incluso el que más fervientemente reniegue de ellos no puede dejar de toparse con el idioma compartido, que con cada palabra articulada nos recuerda nuestro ineludible pasado común. No faltan insignes autores ―tanto ibéricos como americanos, filipinos e incluso borgoñones― que hayan dejado constancia de un sentimiento de orfandad, mucho después de las respectivas separaciones del tronco común. Pero el sentimiento, siempre volátil, no basta para dar razón de unos lazos de naturaleza política. Tampoco la más tangible semejanza cultural es suficiente, pues los lazos, digamos, nacionales, pueden florecer en su ámbito propio sin necesitar ser correspondidos por idénticos vínculos políticos (véase, por ejemplo, el Renacimiento italiano: esta pujanza artística distintivamente italiana ―pese a las particularidades locales y ulterior exportación y desarrollo original en otras partes de Europa― tiene lugar en una península políticamente fragmentadísima. Y el arte renacentista no es vehículo de un anhelo de unificación política, como lo sería el romántico durante el Risorgimento, sino todo lo contrario: es más bien la expresión del espíritu competitivo de los pequeños Estados italianos). La ideología nacionalista, por supuesto, no considera separables los vínculos culturales de los políticos, y de ahí los problemas que encuentra cuando pretende llevarse a la práctica: las fronteras culturales nunca están tan definidas como necesitan estarlo las políticas (un ejemplo paradigmático son los Balcanes después del Imperio austrohúngaro).

Los lazos políticos, por tanto, se fundan en otra cosa. Es la historia, si nos ceñimos a observar la realidad y dejamos a un lado fantasiosos mitos fundacionales, esa tradición acumulada que como hemos dicho equivale a decir patria, la que otorga estabilidad a los vínculos políticos y les da una razón de ser, más allá del puro voluntarismo o la fuerza militar que, como mucho (y no siempre), pueden crearlos pero no sostenerlos. Y cuando esta razón de ser histórica no existe, se fabrica. Porque, en palabras de Francisco Elías de Tejada, «los pueblos no son naciones, son tradiciones». [4]

Las independencias americanas rompen bruscamente (en dos décadas se deshacen tres siglos) sus lazos con la Corona haciendo bandera del nacionalismo, de la pretensión de que el hecho de ser nación da derecho a constituirse como Estado. Pero como no podía ser de otra forma en unos reinos hispánicos vertebrados durante siglos por la idea federativa, la delimitación de quién constituía una nación fue menos que perfecta. Las fronteras precolombinas no podían ser recuperadas, como pretendían algunas posturas indigenistas. Dice el mexicano Luis González de Alba: «No hubo un México prehispánico, salvo en nuestro lenguaje actual: para entendernos, así le decimos a este territorio antes de Hernán Cortés. Pero no había una nación, un pueblo, una lengua, un México. Los tlaxcaltecas y otomíes no eran meshicas, sino enemigos de éstos, mucho menos eran mexicanos, nombre que fue necesario crear, con el de México, y nos condenó a ser un país centralizado no sólo en lo político y económico, sino hasta en la historia, al darnos como herencia cultural indígena a la más reciente y menos importante de las culturas mesoamericanas.» [5] Algunas proclamas independentistas de la época hablan de la “nación americana” como una sola, algo que evidentemente tampoco se realizó. Al final se impuso la particular interpretación de Bolívar del principio uti possidetis iuris: rindiendo un paradójico homenaje a la Corona, los límites de los nuevos Estados serían los de los virreinatos y capitanías generales tal como existían en 1810. Pero el mismo Bolívar no dudó en ignorar este criterio cuando le resultaba políticamente conveniente. La fuerza y el voluntarismo de los caudillos fueron, detrás de justificaciones de variada índole, la ultima ratio regum. En palabras de José Antonio Ullate: «Sólo el decurso de las guerras y de los manejos políticos conducirá a la plasmación de Estados sin nación que, celosamente, se volcarán desde el primer instante en la creación artificial de naciones a medida de sus Estados.» [6] Las subsiguientes guerras fratricidas entre los nuevos Estados y la inestabilidad de sus gobiernos dan fe de las consecuencias que ha tenido para la Hispanidad el abandono de la concepción federativa ―que Vázquez de Mella quería recuperar― y su sustitución por la ideología nacionalista.

Continuará.

E.P.C

——————-

[1] Discurso en el Teatro de la Zarzuela, el 31 de mayo de 1915. Los demás fragmentos de Mella citados pertenecen también a este discurso.

[2] Cfr. Coronel José María Manrique, Gibraltar como factor de riesgo e inestabilidad.

[3] Rafael Gambra Ciudad, La Primera Guerra Civil de España (1821-1823): Historia y Meditación de una Lucha Olvidada.

[4] Francisco Elías de Tejada y Spínola, Historia de la literatura política en las Españas. Tomo 1, Madrid, 1991, págs. 24 y siguientes.

[5] Luis González de Alba, Mentiras de la Independencia, Revista Nexos, Lima. 1/9/2009

[6] José Antonio Ullate Fabo, Españoles que no pudieron serlo: la verdadera historia de la independencia de América, editorial Libroslibres, 2009. Este párrafo se basa íntegramente en lo expuesto por este libro.





Merkel´s Odissey

27 10 2012

Fuente: economiafinanzas.com

We are all cursed. Lost in the high sea, led by a Captain motivated by nothing but his own, personal desires. If we do not act, we shall all be drowned and swallowed by the massive, cruel creature living in the ocean. We are the collateral damage of a reckless leader’s egotism.

José Juan Rivas used this literary analogy – a summary of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick – to describe Chancellor Angela Merkel’s (and in general Germany’s) Euro area politics, sustaining that the entire framework of the Euro had been a German construction, geared to the interests and nature of the German economy and sustained by a European Central Bank seated in Frankfurt. But it is far too simplistic, if not outright wrong to identify Chancellor Merkel with the role of the self-obsessed Captain Ahab, who drags the poor seamen, who did not do any wrong except for embarking with Ahab/Merkel on his/her suicidal crusade, to their death. Set aside its polemical nature, such a metaphor is criticisable in a twofold way: first of all, it completely ignores the role played by other member states of the European Union, namely Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy and Ireland. Secondly, it is oblivious of the internal German debate on the issue. Particularly the latter aspect proves vital in order to effectively assess and evaluate the measures taken and positions defended by Angela Merkel.

The introduction of the Euro proved to be a fundamental step in European history, on both a political and economic level, and there were many reasons to laud its birth. Among the institutions who greeted the new currency most warmly were probably the treasuries and entrepreneurs of EU member states with until then so-called soft currencies, e.g. Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy. Countries who exchanged their weak Drachma, Escudos, Pesetas and Lira for a hard currency, which boosted their credit rating to the level of the solid German economy, which disposed prior to that year with the Deutsche Mark of one of the strongest currencies in the world. The elevation of these countries to this level created unprecedented opportunities for their comparatively still lesser developed and/or less resilient economies: the access to cheap credit and thus large investments in the local economy was largely broadened. Needless to say, the states made ample use of it: Greece’s state deficit rose between 2002, when it was at 97 per cent, and 2010 by exactly 70 percentage points – in order to illustrate the magnitude of this number, one simply has to look at the average deficit growth within the Eurozone in general for the same period: 20 percentage points (69-89%).[1] Now Rivas affirms that most of these monies were invested in German imports, so that the ultimate beneficiary was Germany. But this is not correct: whilst it is true that the revenue generated by German goods exported to Greece increased after the introduction of the Euro, amounting in June 2010 to 7,01 billion Euros,  these numbers must be examined in relation to the Greece’s general level debt – and there, the unsustainability of the German culpability argument is impressively proven: since 2002, the Greek debt grew by the total sum of ca. 178 billion Euros, showing the relative insignificance of German exports. This emerges especially when considering that it was mostly the private sector which was involved in the purchase of German goods. The amounts which added up to the Greek deficit are thus to find elsewhere: in the grossly inflated military expenditure, above-average consumption compared to below-average long-term investments, as well as an inefficient, self-serving and overstaffed administration. Naturally, Greece is an extreme example, but much the same is true for the other countries concerned and, in many cases, analysts from these countries are even self-conscious of this: Henrique Raposo recently wrote in the Portuguese newspaper Expresso that the reasons for the Portuguese crisis had to be located in the fact that ‘public expenditure is superior to the national revenue … The monstrosity of raised taxes does not suffice to nourish our beloved Leviathan’[2] Raposo equally condemned the claim of the leftist Portuguese party Bloco de Esquerda: ‘Cut the deficit, not the salaries’ by assessing that indeed the public salaries were at the heart of the enormous Portuguese state deficit.[3]

The reasons for the Portuguese, Greek, Spanish and Italian indebtedness thus do not lie with the prospering German export economy, but are much more prosaic: instead of benefitting from the elevated credit rating in order to fund a solidified and carefully balanced ‘path to prosperity’, Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy embarked on an insufficiently controlled policy of public expenditure, without regards to its sustainability.

This should not mean however that Germany did not share any responsibility for the crisis. Indeed, much the contrary is true: after all, it was a Franco-German initiative of not sanctioning the violation of the debt limits fixed by the Maastricht Treaties that led to its gradual erosion, which encouraged the pursuit of such prodigal policies. However, the chancellor responsible at the time was not the Christian-Democrat Angela Merkel, but Social-Democrat Gerhard Schröder, who was at the head of a centre-left government in Berlin. Merkel was still a member of the opposition then, fiercely criticising Schröder’s policies.

It should therefore not be surprising why Merkel insisted on the introduction of binding rules for states in deficit: one of the vital conditions for financial support through other member states’ taxpayer’s money, as stressed and put forward by Merkel, was the implementation of wide-ranging consolidation measures. Here lies the crux of the issue: to consider such a demand by Germany as un-European or even blackmail, as Rivas’ article suggests, is not only disingenuous (no-one can seriously claim that, had there been an opposite constellation, the other countries would have reacted differently), but plain wrong. By insisting on a contractual commitment to consolidation in return for financial support, Merkel effectively contributed to compensate for the erosion of the Maastricht debt criteria and install a working safeguard mechanism to prevent abuse of public expenditure in the future. Nobody can take the responsibility of risking vast amounts of taxpayers’ money without a safeguard that the investment will prove useful. In fact, it would have been un-European to simply continue financing unsustainable deficits until it is definitely too late to turn things around.

More admirable though is Angela Merkel’s resistance to the fierce public and parliamentary opposition she encounters at home in Germany to the European solidarity, which should not be underestimated: in a survey of April 2010, 57 per cent of the German voters expressed their opposition to giving Greece any kind of financial support, a sign for the deeply rooted populist resentment against the Euro, which is seen to have replaced the gute alte (good old) Deutsche Mark.

Ironically, such anti-European and anti-solidary tendencies are particularly powerful among the grassroots of her own government and party, the Christian-Democratic Union (CDU), with the deputies Wolfgang Bosbach, Peter Gauweiler (CDU/CSU) and Frank Schäffler (FDP) being the most expressive antagonists of Merkel’s rescue politics. Schäffler openly accused Angela Merkel and the other heads of states of the EU-members of committing a ‘collective breach of law’ and his pledge to hold a member vote within his party regarding the support of the rescue measures kept German politics on the edge for a few weeks. Gauweiler filed several lawsuits at the German Constitutional Court against the approval of several rescue packages and of the ESM and EFSF and particularly in the case of the latter, the judges, whilst overruling Gauweiler in the end, hinted several times at the fact that they were not satisfied with the general outlook of the ESM – hence the reason why the rulings of the Constitutional Court have been ironically called ‘Yes-but-verdicts’. Gauweiler’s last move, however, was even more controversial and delicate: when ECB-President Mario Draghi announced that the European Central Bank was planning to undertake amendatory measures on the markets through bond-buying, Gauweiler handed in an expedited motion at the Constitutional Court, arguing that such action thwarted the bank’s independence. The delicacy in this respect was that this was not only a fear shared by few Eurosceptic dissidents, but actual grandees of German politics: Jens Weidmann, President of the Deutsche Bundesbank (the German central bank) and one of Merkel’s closest confidants, did not hide his resistance to the policy which represented ‘financing states by the means of printing money’ and allegedly even threatened resignation.[4] German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble admitted that, should the ECB transgress its mandate, the German government, from time immemorial afraid of inflation due to Germany’s traumatic experiences in the great inflation of 1923, would consider legal action against the ECB, equally stressing however that he did not believe that the ECB was committing a transgression. It is here that Rivas’ argument, that the ECB was effectively another tool in German Euro-politics is reduced to absurdity. The mere geographical location of an institute does not necessarily determine its allegiance: no one could seriously argue that the European Commission was more likely to represent Belgian interests, just because of its seat in Brussels.

In the light of this strong political and public opposition to the ESM and other measures regarding the Euro rescue measures, it is hard to uphold Angela Merkel as a merely ‘German’ politician. Indeed, the past three years of her chancellorship rather seem to have been marked by the high-wire act of giving a productive, Europe-oriented policy outline without trying the patience of an increasingly Eurosceptic public sphere at home. Considering Germany’s reliability and stability as partner in European crisis politics, this is a by every means respectable and significant achievement. And if one would want to employ a maritime literary metaphor at all costs, it rather seems that Merkel’s journey is rather comparable with Homer’s ancient myth of the Odyssey, than Melville’s modern classic: a voyage full of unforeseeable dangers on all sides, with an at times mutinous crew, which however shares a common goal – sailing at last into a safe haven.

Henrique Laitenberger

This article is a reply to What to do we talk about when we talk about Merkel?






La Culpa alemana

28 09 2012

El término deuda se traduce a la lengua alemana como Schuld. Este concepto tiene varias acepciones, la primera ya mencionada, la segunda sería la culpa. Esta curiosidad lingüística ya nos indica de alguna manera la actuación alemana en la actual crisis de deuda. La tradición protestante alemana, sin duda, ha ocasionado que en términos simplistas se equipare la deuda con la culpa, y por ende pecado. La deuda para el país germano, tal y como se evidencia, es tratada como un mal al que hay que hacer frente con austeridad y sacrificio.

Siendo casualidad o no, el hecho es que los pecadores del sur de Europa están siendo perjudicados por esta ideología. Por el contrario, Alemania se beneficia indudablemente de la situación europea actual: coloca su deuda a precios irrisorios[1], gana competitividad en sus exportaciones, recibe capital como consecuencia de las fugas producidas en España, Portugal o Italia y un largo etcétera. Y es que la moneda única se ha demostrado que es una divisa incompleta desde el inicio. En el momento de su constitución se formó un Banco Central[2] pero no se dotó a los Estados de un Tesoro, de tal forma que desde ese momento todos los países asumieron que en algún momento podría  darse impagos a los acreedores de la Administración. Por el contrario, Alemania vuelve a beneficiarse manteniendo a raya la inflación y controlando las políticas monetarias del Banco Central Europeo, ya que es el principal aportador de capital.

Por todo esto cabe afirmar que Alemania beneficiándose de la situación actual esta haciendo lo mínimo para que el euro no se desintegre, pues esta situación sería desastrosa tanto para el país germano como para el resto de países miembros. La gran paradoja se produce cuando poco a poco se evidencia que lo mínimo no es suficiente, es insostenible que los países acreedores lleven las riendas por mucho tiempo. Por lo tanto se abren dos vías posibles: o bien se acelera el proceso de integración, o bien se desmiembra la Unión.

Analizando la primera de las situaciones, los países recuperarían mucho de su competitividad perdida, las exportaciones serían más baratas y las importaciones se encarecerían. No obstante, los perdedores en este escenario serían todos los países miembros sin excepción, empezando por los hegemónicos que verían como se depreciarían sus inversiones.

La segunda de las opciones pasa indudablemente por la voluntad de Alemania, que debería equilibrar el juego a costa de su propio crecimiento. Esto implicaría un aumento del grado inflación tan temido en Berlín, que además debería ser aprobado por el Bundesbank. Pese a la dificultad de este camino teniendo en cuenta el sacrificio germano (y traicionando su propio espíritu)  es posible realizarlo. De esta forma Alemania se convertiría en el país hegemónico benévolo, tal y como lo fue, por ejemplo, Estados Unidos con el Plan Marshall tras la Segunda Guerra Mundial. Pero Alemania no quiere ni siquiera obtener el liderazgo europeo. Pues bien, cualquiera de las dos opciones es mejor que la senda actual, que desemboca en una crisis perpetua.

Pero, ¿cómo puede Alemania dejarse convencer de que la política que aplica es perjudicial para todos los miembros? Los mecanismos intergubernamentales de la UE se han mostrado ineficaces a la hora de modificar una política tan arraigada como de la que estamos hablando. Por otro lado, el euroescepticismo se extiende provocado por la irritación de unos y por la desesperación de otros. Aún así, asumiendo que los mecanismos institucionales están obsoletos, el cambio de comportamiento alemán pasa por la propia sociedad civil, esto es los ciudadanos y las organizaciones privadas. Cada vez resulta más necesario la intervención de los ciudadanos europeos concienciados de que la Unión es un proceso de integración irreversible. En vez de resaltar la diferencia entre el centro (países acreedores) y la periferia (deudores) debe resaltarse la unidad y la necesidad de mayor integración en beneficio de todos los Estados miembros. No debe olvidarse que Alemania no deja de tener una amplia población proeuropea que, sin embargo, está hechizada por el mantra de la Canciller que es erróneo.

La supervivencia de la Unión depende de que Alemania despierte y comprenda de que no hay santos ni pecadores en Europa, sino problemas financieros compartidos y necesidad de mayor unidad.

David Jódar Huesca

 

 

 

Referencias:

http://elpais.com/elpais/2012/09/06/opinion/1346961403_177822.html

TheEconomist.com


[1] Como es bien sabido, la temida prima de riesgo no es otra cosa que el diferencial que pagan los país con respecto a lo que paga Alemania.

[2] Aunque como se ha demostrado en diversas ocasiones tampoco actúa como tal.





What to do we talk about when we talk about Merkel?

18 09 2012

Fuente: scene-stealers.com

The Pequod is cursed. All its crew except for one of them is meant to die in its transoceanic trips to hunt whales. Nevertheless, the reason for the Pequod to be cursed is not the ship itself. What can you expect when its captain trades with the Devil? Moby Dick is not the infernal element in Herman Melville’s famous novel, but Captain Ahab. Due to its image, the easy joke is to identify Angela Merkel with Moby Dick, but the truth is that she is the one prosecuting a white and dangerous animal through the Seven Seas. Then, if Merkel is Captain Ahab, who or what is meant to play Moby Dick’s role in the dark novel of the financial crisis?

To answer this question, we must go back to the beginning. In an article published in Stratfor Global Intelligence called “Financial Markets, Politics and the New Reality”, George Friedman analyses Germany’s role in the creation of the European Union and the adoption of the single currency. According to Friedman’s thesis, Germany needs the Free Trade area of the EU to help its exportation economy. Truth be told, Germany is Europe’s workshop, but at the same time, its population saves more than the media. The exceeding produce must be sold somewhere else, and in the beginning, that somewhere else meant Europe. Germany benefitted from the Free Trade area, first with France and the Benelux countries, and later on with the other 27 members.

Most measures adopted within the EU were intended to protect German, and to a lesser extent French, ambitions. A single currency like the euro would avoid member countries to inflate their debt in order to escape German creditors, it controlled inflation, and, at the same time, it was controlled by Germany. It is not a question of luck that the ECB is located in Frankfurt.

Therefore, we can see how the EU was created to benefit German economy, first, as a Free Trade area where they could sell their production without being affected by taxation, and second, having a single currency that they controlled to a big extent, and that was supposed to avert trading partners defaulting, depreciating their respective currencies, or using any other tricks to cheat German investors. The EU was necessary for Germany, and it still is. The breaking down of the Free Trade area would be negative for German trade, especially when we think that most European countries have negative trading balances with Germany: they export much more than they import.[1]

Now we have the whole story, but still, who is Moby Dick? Being simplistic, we could say that Moby Dick is the financial crisis, who is trying to destroy the fragile ship of the EU, and Angela Merkel is Captain Ahab, who is stubbornly decided to chase it, while followed by its doomed crew of European leaders. This would not only be simplistic. It is also false. Mrs Merkel is not chasing the white whale of the crisis. She is not even chasing the spectrum of a EU in decline.

The 7th of September, Mrs Merkel visited Spain with a group of German investors and experts and met Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. However much impressed she was with Rajoy’s brave reforms (it isn’t difficult to impress Mrs Merkel apparently. She was already impressed with Zapatero’s reforms and she has been in a state of shock with Spanish cuts since 2010), the message, accorded with Draghi’s press conference, was short and clear: if Spain wants financial aid from the ECB, she must ask for a rescue.

Spain is the last prey of what speculators, right at the beginning of the crisis, called the “Gipsy” group: Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Italy. Not surprisingly, the first three of those countries have already been intervened. And Merkel was blunt enough to resemble a Panzer division: intervention or bankruptcy. Unless Spain asks for aid, the ECB would not intervene. But, why were speculators so accurate? Honestly, it sounds like a conspiracy theory, even though it isn’t.

This countries were growing in a dynamic way before the crisis started. Ireland was the ‘Celtic Tiger’, Spain was ahead of Italy in production and GDP for the first time, Portugal and Greece had no problems in financing their expensive governments. Is there any relation between sudden wealth and sudden decline? Yes, there is, and German economy is behind. At this point, it is better to use Friedman’s own words, without changing them:

“The truth was that the crisis [in those countries] was caused by Germany’s using the trading system to flood markets with its goods, its limiting competition through regulations, and that for every euro carelessly borrowed, a euro was carelessly lent.”[2]

Angela Merkel is not an European politician. She is a German politician. She is concerned with the well-being of the UE as long as it affects German well-being. The UE was a tool for German recovery. It also became a tool for German commercial expansion. She is playing the double role of a politician trapped between two fires: while it is highly unpopular in Germany to finance Spanish debt (approximately 27 or 20% of the rescue will be paid by Germany) and even though the Deutsche Bank has already opposed Merkel’s plans towards Spain, she still needs the euro not to collapse, Spain not to default, and the Free Trade area to stand untouched. If German prosperity meant to create artificial bubbles in the ‘Gipsy’ group countries, now she must press tough on them not to default, and to keep German public opinion relatively happy.

Melville’s novel is complete now. Mrs Merkel is Captain Ahab, eternally chasing the white whale of traditional German European policies, while followed by a crew of unwilling European countries that are attached to her by the impossibility to run away. The only thing we still need to discover is who plays Ishmael’s role.

Juan José Rivas


[1] According to the CIA’s The Wordl Factbook, Germany exported $1.408 trillion and it only imported $1.198 trillion, rated as the 4th country in export rates.





Cutting-and-chopping relations: Who wants a piece?

15 09 2012

Sometimes on GIN Revista, we get stories that are not only novel-like episodes that will be remembered in the future (no matter how horrible they might be) but also that involve so many different variables and curious circumstances that simply sprout into mind the idea: “The Cold War is over, but Int’l Relations are still interesting”. Or is it…?

The Hungarian equivalent of Jack the Ripper hit once more the front pages not only in the mostly calm Magyran Republic, otherwise known as Hungary but also in the rest of the world. The funny thing is, if any in this bloody and merciless affair, that no Hungarian was involved. As if the recreation of a stereotyped metaphor on the Azerbaijani-Armenian relationship took place, a hideous crime took place in the beautiful and awe-inspiring capital city of Budapest.

The spooky story gets even better for the most cynical spectators, as this took place amidst a North Atlantic Treaty Organization Partnership for Peace event in 2004. Talking about a successful course. The only peace to be seen in this affair is the rest in which the Armenian officer Gurgen Margaryan sleeps, after he was axed and decapitated (apparently, “half-decapitated” is the correct and more precise term) by his fellow Azerbaijani counterpart, Ramil Safarov. Arrested by Hungarian authorities, he was tried and condemned to a minimum of 25 years in jail, to be carried out in the crime-inflicted country. Things were quite bad as they were at that moment, especially between Armenia and Azerbaijan where the word “hatred” could express their present relations (if they officially had any, that is).

Their citizens cannot visit their neighbour. They cannot even watch Eurovision without provoking each other. It was reported that Azerbaijani broadcaster blurred the number to vote for the Armenian candidate (who came from the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, already discussed in GIN Revista (Spanish); for more information, please visit http://ginrevista.com/2012/07/23/pequeno-pero-maton/). Armenia refused to take part in the event when Azerbaijan was the hosting country in 2012. According to Armenia, security issues were the principal motive.

Major Azerbaijani struggle and negotiations with Magyarian authorities ended up in a worst case scenario: Mr. Safarov is extradited to Azerbaijan, on the condition that he would continue his sentence in his home country. When he landed, he was pardoned. Immediately, relations between Hungary and Armenia terminated, as a result of his exculpation in his home country. He was received, according to the Guardian, as a “hero” and with his arrival came many surprises, gifts and compensations to the now ex-convict, including an apartment, “back pay” and was promoted to major, according to the New York Times. Furious mobs pelted the Hungarian embassy with eggs and burned flags in the capital Yerevan. Another series of nasty events took place as a result. Among which the Armenian president in a fit mentioned the word “war” in some declarations he made due to this outrageous circumstance. The Danish Secretary General of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen was deeply concerned by the damaged “trust” and by the possible future retaliations. Talking about a diplomatic melodrama.

But leaving the much-distracting and much-delusionary ado behind, let us focus on more important issues: Why is NATO so concerned in a region where the closest NATOMemberState is Turkey and what are the possible interests in the region?

After the fall of the Soviet Union, the three autonomous regions of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Armenia successfully obtained independence. Other republics, such as Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Nagorno-Karabakh, failed to do so. In the latter’s case, it created a real hot-spot of instability and violence throughout the whole region (as was studied in the aforementioned study). Moscow’s influence decreased enormously. Russian economic influence is not what it used to be, although it must be said that it has continued to invest in energy, mining and military-related activities in the region. In the military sphere, the Russian Federation had to dismantle its main bases, even though some still remain (102nd military base in Armenia and a radar station in Azerbaijan).

The case in Georgia is slightly different. Since the 2008, Abkhazia and South Ossetia are under the supervision of Russian military due to the Russian-led invasion. Many people of the time, including this reporter, believed it to be a reaction to the massive Western recognition of Kosovo’s independence in February of the same year and because of the increasing relations between Russia and the two rogue states (only recognised by literally a handful of countries, one of them being Nauru, according to The Independent; for those who are curious, I recommend them to read the article undermentioned). However, it has to be said that some irregularities were committed by Georgian forces, which led Russia to act in response and which helped to justify the offensive (much to the regret of the international community).

On the other hand, there seems to be a rather progressive and increasing relation with NATO countries. Just recently, this organization released on its webpage a report on the successful relations with these three countries. Today, Georgia aspires to be a MemberState and all three Caucasian countries have taken part in supporting NATO-led operations in Kosovo or Afghanistan (they are all within the Individual Partnership Action Plan). This has been also a very strategic point in order to supply and transport troops to Afghan territory. Let us remember that being a NATO member or ally gives you part of the Copenhagen criteria necessary to be an EU Member State (especially in terms of making sure that these countries respect the rule of law and above all, human rights). There are quintessentially the “new neighbours”.

As many of you may have guessed, this region has a very important geostrategic relevance. Between Europe and the Middle East, some see it has an “Eldorado”. It is hardly surprising then that companies such as British Petroleum in Azerbaijan or other American companies (and military personnel) in Armenia have set camp. The countenance of a possible “Russian Power Resurrection”, diversification of oil supply (a pipeline connects Azerbaijan’s capital Baku with the Black Sea) and military presence next to the Middle East are just some of the reasons that explain their presence.

Another factor that reassures their long-term company in the region is the social instability. Between 1988 and 2006, the Caucasus has suffered enormous migratory movements. Some involved escaping war-ridden territories such as Nagorno-Karabakj (mostly Azerbaijanis), Georgia, South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Other migrants move for economical reasons. This explains the massive Armenian diaspora to Russia, Eastern Europe and the United States. It is said that the Caucasian region has lost approximately 20% of its population. Possibly the most damaging problem in this is the catastrophic brain drain that it has provoked. According to the latest edition of The Economist’s World Facts, 11,000 asylum applications to industrialised countries were received in 2009 from Georgians (10th in the world in this category). In terms of population growth rates, Azerbaijan has always had in its districts higher rates (even more than 9%) than its neighbouring countries due to a less advanced demographic transition period and because it is a country with more than 90% Muslims (countries with Muslim traditions are generally prone to have bigger fertility rates than other European countries with advanced demographic transition periods). This reporter would like the reader to acknowledge that Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan have a population of approximately 4, 3 and 9 million people, respectively.

The political instability and the lack for a political solution to some of the conflicts mentioned before are both clearly entwined. The Georgian “Rose Revolution” in 2003 led to a series of public demonstrations throughout the whole region for many years to come. In Georgia, it led to the ousting of Edward Shevardnadze (an ex-Soviet minister of Foreign Affairs). In Armenia and Azerbaijan, the local authorities managed to control the situation, mostly because of the solidity of institutional structure (even if Azerbaijan is 25th in the “least free press freedom” index in The Economist; Belarus 23rd). In L’état du monde 2012, it is discussed in the article relative to Azerbaijan that OSCE declared elections to include many cases of fraud and that it hardly meant any kind of democratic progress. Both in Armenia and Azerbaijan, there were threats of a “Mubarakization”. In 2011, the National Armenian Congress (the main opposition party) paid its respects to the 10 deceased and 250 injured people that took part in earlier demonstrations. In Azerbaijan, reports were received on the lack of freedom of press that came as a result of protests. Even though much needed anti-corruption mechanisms were put into place. In other words, these countries every now and again have claims of police brutality or human rights violations, despite their many improvements over the past few years.

The gap between the rich and the poor, though not statistically scandalous in Azerbaijan and Armenia (Gini coefficient of 0.308 and 0.337 respectively) is getting bigger (Georgia is placed 56th with 0.408). It gets worst when the instability in the region discourages foreign investment (other than energy, of course) and any type of peaceful enterprise.

As a result of this research, one can only hope the best for a region, like many other ones in the world, that has had to deal with bloody wars and suffers today still of systemic hatred between neighbours. Further coordinated and coherent diplomatic talks are needed, of course. Nevertheless, what is most needed here is a proper and calm political and economic situation to promote growth, where people can develop themselves freely and can learn to respect one another and most of all, so they can be able to love their neighbour (actually, not dislike would be good enough). If not, other people are bound to profit from their misery.

Cecilio Oviedo

References:

The Guardian:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/sep/06/azeri-axe-murderer-caucasus

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-embassy-cables-documents/250649?INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3487

British Broadcasting Corporation

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-19499151

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-17292360

The New York Times

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/05/world/europe/pardon-reignites-azerbaijan-armenia-tensions.html?_r=1

Gin Revista

http://ginrevista.com/2012/07/23/pequeno-pero-maton/

Le Monde Diplomatique, El Atlas-Ediciones Cybermonde)

 

Russia’s Military Capabilities, by Margaret Klein (SWP Research Paper). http://www.swp-berlin.org/fileadmin/contents/products/research_papers/2009_RP12_kle_ks.pdf

(Page 20, table 6)

The Independent:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/nauru-and-abkhazia-one-is-a-destitute-microstate-marooned-in-the-south-pacific-the-other-is-a-disputed-former-soviet-republic-13000km-away-so-why-are-they-so-keen-to-be-friends-6894772.html

The Economist’s World Facts App 2012

El Estado del Mundo 2012 (L’état du monde 2012-Editions La Découverte)-Akal editions

CIA World Factbook 2012

How goverments work-Dorling Kindersley








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