Entradas con Categorías Global Affairs Comentarios .

COMMENTARYJairo Císcar          

Since the end of the Second World War, collective security on the European continent and with it, peace, has been a priority. The founding fathers of the European Union themselves, aware of the tensions that resulted from the First and Second World Wars, devised and created security structures to prevent future conflicts and strengthen relations between former enemies. The first structure, although not purely military, obeys this logic: the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), essential for the creation and maintenance of industry and armies, was created by the Treaty of Paris in 1951, introducing a concept as widely used today as “energy security”. This was arguably the first major step towards effective integration of European countries.

However, for the issue at hand, the path has been much more complicated. In the same period in which the ECSC was born, French Prime Minister René Pleven, with the encouragement of Robert Schuman and Jean Monet, wanted to promote the European Defence Community. This ambitious plan aimed to merge the armed forces of the six founding countries (including the Federal Republic of Germany) into a European Armed Forces that would keep the continent together and prevent the possibility of a new conflict between states. Ambitious as it was, the project failed in 1954, when the deeply nationalist Gaullist deputies of the French National Assembly refused to ratify the agreement. European integration at the military level thus suffered a setback from which it would not begin to recover until the present century, although it continues to face many of the reluctances it once did.

Why did the European Defence Community fail, and what makes the European Armed Forces still a difficult debate today? This is a question that needs to be analysed and understood, for while political and economic integration has advanced with a large consensus, the military problem, which should go hand in hand with the two previous issues, has always been the Achilles' tendon of the common European project.

There are basically two factors to take into account. The first is the existence of a larger defence community, NATO. Since 1948, NATO has been the principal military alliance of Western countries. Born to counter Soviet expansionism, the Alliance has evolved in size and objectives to its current configuration of 30 member states and a multitude of other states in the form of strategic alliances. Although NATO's primary purpose was diluted after the fall of the Berlin Wall, it has evolved with the times, remaining alert and operational all around the globe. The existence of this common, powerful and ambitious project under U.S. leadership largely obscured efforts and intentions to create a common European defence project. Why create one, overlapping, structure if the objectives were practically the same and NATO guaranteed greater logistical, military superiority and a nuclear arsenal? For decades, this has been the major argument against further European integration in the field of defence - as protection was secured but delegated.

Another issue was the nationalism still prevalent among European states, especially in the aforementioned Gaullist France. Even today, with an ongoing and deep political, economic and, at a certain level, judicial integration, military affairs are still often seen as the last bastion of national sovereignty. In Schengen Europe, they remain for many the guarantee of those borders that fell long ago. 

Other issues to take into account are the progressive detachment of the population from the armed forces (a Europe that has not seen war on its own territory in 70 years, except for the Balkans, has tended to settle into peace, nearly oblivious to wars) and its progressive ageing, with a future with fewer people of military age, and who, as we have mentioned, often have an ideological and motivational gap with previous generations with respect to the concept and utility of the military.

It was not until relatively recently, with the Treaty of Amsterdam in 1999, that the embryonic mechanisms of the current Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), supervised by the European Defence Agency, began to be implemented. In the 2010s, with the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, these mechanisms were established. The Military Staff of the European Union (EUMS) is one of them. It constitutes the EU's first permanent strategic headquarters. The final impetus came in 2015, with the European Union Global Strategy. This led to the creation of various far-reaching initiatives, most notably the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), which since 2017 has been pursuing the structural integration of the Armed Forces of all EU countries except Denmark and Malta. It is not only limited to proper integration, but also leads capability development projects such as the EU Collaborative Warfare Capabilities (ECOWAR) or the Airborne Electronic Attack (AEA), as well as defence industry endeavors such as the MUSAS project, or the CYBER-C4ISR capabilities level.

Although it is too early to say for sure, Europe may be as close as it can get to René Pleven's distant dream. The EU's geopolitical situation is changing, and so is its own language and motivation. If we used to talk about Europe delegating its protection for years, now Emmanuel Macron advocates ‘strategic autonomy” for the EU. It should be recalled that just over a year ago he claimed that “NATO is brain-dead”. Some voices in the EU’s political arena claim and have realised that it can no longer delegate the European protection and defence of its interests, and they are starting to take steps towards doing so. Despite these advances, it is true that is not a shared interest, at least, as a whole. France and other Mediterranean member states are pushing towards it, but those in the East, as Poland or Latvia, are far more concerned about the rise of Russia, and are comfortable enough for U.S. troops to be established in their terrain. 

Having said that, I truly believe that the advantages of the European Armed Forces project outweigh its negative aspects. First of all, a Europe united in defence policies would not imply the disappearance of NATO, or the breaking of agreements with third countries. In fact, these alliances could even be strengthened and fully adapted to the 21st century and to the war of the future. As an example, in 2018 the EU and NATO signed collaboration agreements on issues such as cybersecurity, defence industry and military mobility.        

While NATO works, Europe is now facing a dissociation between U.S. interests and those of the other Allies, especially the European ones. In particular, countries such as France, Spain and Italy are shifting their defence policies from the Middle East, or the current peace process in Afghanistan (which, despite 20 years of war, sounds like a long way off), to sub-Saharan Africa (Operation “Barkhane” or EUTM Mali), a much closer region with a greater impact on the lives of the European citizens. This does not detract from the fact that NATO faces global terrorism in a new era that is set to surpass asymmetric warfare and other 4th generation wars: the era of hybrid warfare. Russia's military build-up on the EU's eastern flank and China's penetration into Africa do not invite a loosening of ties with the United States, but European countries need to prioritise their own threats over those of the U.S., although it is true that the needs of countries to the west of the EU are not the same as those to the east. This could be the main stumbling block for a joint European Army, as weighting the different strategic priorities could be really arduous.

It is true that this idea of differing policies is not shared in the EU as a whole. Countries such as Poland, those in the Balkans or the Baltic have different approaches and necessities when talking about a European Union common security strategy. The EU is a 27 country-wide body that often is extremely difficult to navigate within. Consensus is only reached after very long discussions (see the soap opera on the COVID relief package negotiations), and being defence as important as it is, and in need of fast, executive decision making, the intricate bureaucracy of the EU could not help with it. But if well managed, it could be an opportunity to develop new strategies for decision-making and reforming the European system as a whole, fostering a new, more effective Europe.

Another debate, probably outdated, is the one who claims that the EU is not capable of planning, organising and conducting operations outside the NATO umbrella. In this case, apart from the aforementioned guidelines and policies, one simply has to look at the facts: the EU today leads six active (and 18 completed) military missions with close to 5,000 troops deployed. The “Althea” (Bosnia & Herzegovina) and “Atalanta” (in the Indian Ocean) missions are particularly noteworthy. It is true that these examples are of low-intensity conflicts but, given the combat experience of EU nations under NATO or in other missions (French and Portuguese in Africa, etc.) combat-pace could be quickly achieved. The NATO certification system under which most European armed forces operate guarantees standardisation in tactics, logistics and procedures, so that standardisation at the European level would be extremely simple if existing models are taken into account.

Another issue is the question of whether the EU could politically and economically engage in a long, high-intensity operation without getting drowned by the public opinion, financial administration, and, obviously, with the planning and carrying out of a whole campaign. This is one of the other main problems with future European armed forces because, as mentioned earlier, Europeans are not prepared in any way to be confronted with the reality of a situation of war. What rules of engagement will be used? How to cope with casualties? And even more, how to create an effective chain of command and control among 27 countries? And what will happen if one does not agree with a particular intervention or action? How could it be argued that the EU, world’s leading beacon of human rights, democracy and peace, gets engaged in a war? Undoubtedly, these questions have rational and objective answers, but in an era of social media, populism, empty discourses, and fake news, it would be difficult to engage with the public (and voters) to support the idea.

Having said that, there is room for optimism. Another reason pointing towards Europe's armed forces is the collaboration that exists at the military industrial level. PESCO and the European Defence Fund encourage this, and projects such as the FCAS and EURODRONE lay the foundations for the future of European armed forces capabilities. It should not be forgotten that the European defence industry is the world leader behind that of the United States and is an increasingly tough competitor for the latter.

In addition, the use of military forces in European countries during the current coronavirus pandemic has served to reinforce the message of their utility and need for collaboration beyond the purely military. While the militarisation of emergencies must be avoided and the soldier must not be reduced to a mere “Swiss army knife” at disposition of the government trying to make up their own lack of planning or capacity to deal with the situation, it has brought the military closer to the streets, and to some extent may have helped to counteract the disaffection with the armed forces that exists in many European countries (due to the factors mentioned above). 

Finally, I believe that European-level integration of the armed forces will not be merely beneficial, but necessary for Europe. If the EU wants to maintain its diplomacy, its economic power, it needs its own strategic project, an “area of control” over its interests and, above all, military independence. This does not preclude maintaining and promoting the alliances already created, but this is a unique and necessary opportunity to fully establish the common European project. The political and economic framework cannot be completed without the military one; and the military one cannot function without the former. All that remains is to look at the direction the EU is taking and hope that it will be realised. It is more than possible and doable, and the reality is that work is being done towards it.

Categorías Global Affairs: Unión Europea Seguridad y defensa Comentarios


After weeks of rockets being fired from Gaza and the West Bank to Israel and Israeli air strikes, Israel and Hamas have agreed to a ceasefire in a no less heated environment. The conflict of the last days between Israel and Palestine has spread like powder in a spiral of violence whose origin and direct reasons are difficult to draw. As a result, hundreds have been killed or injured in both sides.

What at first sight seemed like a Palestinian protest against the eviction of Palestinian families in the Jerusalem’s neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, is connected to the pro-Hamas demonstrations held days before at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem. And even before that, at the beginning of Ramadan, Lehava, a Jewish far-right extremist organization, carried out inflammatory anti-Arab protests at the same Damascus Gate. Additionally, the upcoming Palestinian legislative elections that Palestinian PM Mahmoud Abbas indefinitely postponed must be added to this cocktail of factors. To add fuel to the flames, social media have played a significant role in catapulting the conflict to the international arena—especially due to the attack in Al-Aqsa mosque that shocked Muslims worldwide—, and Hamas’ campaign encouraging Palestinian youth to throw into the streets at point of rocks and makeshift bombs. 

Sheikh Jarrah was just the last straw

At this point in the story, it has become clear that the evictions in Sheikh Jarrah have been just another drop of water in a glass that has been overflowing for decades. The Palestinian side attributes this to an Israeli state strategy to expand Jewish control over East Jerusalem and includes claims of ethnic cleansing. However, the issue is actually a private matter between Jews who have property documents over those lands dating the 1800s, substantiated in a 1970 law that enables Jews to reclaim Jewish-owned property in East Jerusalem from before 1948, and a group of Palestinians, not favored by that same law.

The sentence ruled in favor of the right-wing Jewish Israeli association that was claiming the property. This is not new, as such nationalist Jews have been working for years to expand Jewish presence in East Jerusalem’s Palestinian neighborhoods. Far from being individuals acting for purely private purposes, they are radical Zionist Jews who see their ambitions protected by the law. This is clearly portrayed by the presence of the leader of the Jewish supremacist Lehava group—also defined as opposed to the Christian presence in Israel—during the evictions in Sheikh Jarrah. This same group marched through Jerusalem’s downtown to the cry of “Death to Arabs” and looking for attacking Palestinians. The fact is that Israel does not condemn or repress the movements of the extreme Jewish right as it does the Islamic extremist movements. Sheikh Jarrah is one, among other examples, of how, rather, he gives them legal space. 

Clashes in the streets of Israel between Jews and Palestinians

Real pitched battles were fought in the streets of different cities of Israel between Jewish and Palestinians youth. This is the case in places such as Jerusalem, Acre, Lod and Ashkelon —where the sky was filled with the missiles coming from Gaza, that were blocked by the Israeli antimissile “Iron Dome” system. Palestinian neighbors were harassed and even killed, synagogues were attacked, and endless fights between Palestinians and Israeli Jews happened in every moment on the streets, blinded by ethnic and religious hatred. This is shifting dramatically the narrative of the conflict, as it is taking place in two planes: one militarized, starring Hamas and the Israeli military; and the other one held in the streets by the youth of both factions. Nonetheless, it cannot be omitted the fact that all Israeli Jews receive military training and are conscripted from the age of 18, a reality that sets the distance in such street fights between Palestinians and Israelis.

Tiktok, Instagram and Telegram groups have served as political loudspeakers of the conflict, bombarding images and videos and minute-by-minute updates of the situation. On many occasions accused of being fake news, the truth is that they have achieved an unprecedented mobilization, both within Israel and Palestine, and throughout the world. So much so that pro-Palestinian demonstrations have already been held and will continue in the coming days in different European and US cities. Here, then, there is another factor, which, while informative and necessary, also stokes the flames of fire by promoting even more hatred. Something that has also been denounced in social networks is the removal by the service of review of the videos in favor of the Palestinian cause which, far from serving anything, increases the majority argument that they want to silence the voice of the Palestinians and hide what is happening.

Hamas propaganda, with videos circulating on social media about the launch of the missiles and the bloodthirsty speeches of its leader, added to the Friday’s sermons in mosques encouraging young Muslims to fight, and to sacrifice their lives as martyrs protecting the land stolen from them, do nothing but promote hatred and radicalization. In fact, 

It may be rash to say that this is a lost war for the Palestinians, but the facts suggest that it is. The only militarized Palestinian faction is Hamas, the only possible opposition to Israel, and Israel has already hinted to Qatari and Egyptian mediators that it will not stop military deployment and attacks until the military wing of Hamas surrenders its weapons. The US President denied the idea of Israel being overreacting. 

Hamas’ political upside in violence and Israel’s catastrophic counter-offensive 

Experts declare that it seems like Hamas was seeking to overload or saturate Israel’s interception system, which can only stand a certain number of attacks at once. Indeed, the group has significantly increased the rate of fire, meaning that it has not only replenished its arsenal in spite of the blockade imposed by Israel, but that it has also improved its capabilities. Iran has played a major role in this, supplying technology in order to boost Palestinian self-production of weapons, extend the range of rockets and improve their accuracy. A reality that has been recognized by both Hamas and Iran, as Hamas attributes to the Persian country its success. 

This translates into the bloodshed of unarmed civilians to be continued. If we start from the basis that Israeli action is defensive, it must also be said that air strikes do not discriminate against targets. Although the IDF has declared that the targets are bases of Hamas, it has been documented how buildings of civilians have been destroyed in Gaza, as already counted by 243 the numbers of dead and those of injured are more than 1,700 then the ceasefire entered into effect. On the Israeli side, the wounded reported were 200 and the dead were counted as 12. In an attempt to wipe out senior Hamas officials, the Israeli army was taking over residential buildings, shops and the lives of Palestinian civilians. In the last movement, Israel was focusing on destroying Hamas’ tunnels and entering Gaza with a large military deployment of tanks and military to do so.

Blood has been shed from whatever ethnical and religious background, because Hamas has seen a political upside in violence, and because Israel has failed to punish extremist Jewish movements as it does with Islamist terrorism and uses disproportionated defensive action against any Palestinian uprising. A sea of factors that converge in hatred and violence because both sides obstinately and collectively refuse to recognize and legitimate the existence of the other.

Categorías Global Affairs: Oriente Medio Seguridad y defensa Comentarios

Cartoon depicting Belgian King Leopold II (in the middle) at the Berlin Conference of 1884, by engraver F. Maréchal

COMMENTARY /  Cameron Buckingham

The highwaters of the controversy about Belgium's colonial past in Africa, that dominated news at some point in 2020, have receded without Belgian grand institutions taking significant steps to redress the bad reputation. Belgian King Leopold II ordered horrible atrocities throughout the African continent but with the heaviest effect on the Democratic Republic of Congo. The genocide of over six million and slave labour of the Congolese people led by the late Belgian king resulted in immense wealth and can be directly linked to the success of Belgium in the modern-day. In the same way, it can be directly linked to the underdevelopment and continued struggle of the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

Currently, there has been an international movement to address the racial problems that plague the modern world. Regardless of the organization or political ideology, it is imperative to acknowledge these problems which stem directly from the unjust colonization, occupation, abuse, and slave trade throughout history. By actively not making any acknowledgment towards this issue, Belgium takes an ignorant stance which not only greatly affects its relations with central African countries, but an international stage speaks to its passive stance on Racism.

In 2019, a working group of experts from the United Nations issued a statement, composed of 74 key points of improvement the country should undertake, to the media with their conclusions of the effects of the colonial past within the country. The Working Group specifically condemned the Belgian government for their lack of engagement with the African minority in their population, as well as their lack of representation in federal institutions and media. The Working Group called on Belgian to improve their education resources so that they accurately portray what truly happened in Africa during colonial and Imperial times. Most importantly they urged Belgium to work on the recognition and social invisibility of people of African Descent, to make a clear and public apology to the African States and adopt a plan of action to confront racism within their country.

Domestic decolonisation

Within the country, the biggest reforms and measures to confront racism are taking place in the capital city of Brussels. One of the biggest changes is the Royal Museum for Central Africa: the museum has taken strides to remove elements of colonialism on display. However, the overall paternalistic attitude of the museum strains the relationship between Belgium and central African countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi. In light of recent events, A statue of Leopold II has been removed by the Antwerp museum after it was set on fire by protestors. There have been many statues defaced by protestors all over Belgium, all calling for his image to be removed from public space as seen in this article Statue of Leopold II, Belgian King Who Brutalized Congo, Is Removed in Antwerp. Simultaneously the government of Brussels has also made attempts to change the names of public spaces or infrastructure that have ties to colonization Most notably seen in a road tunnel,  Belgium seeks new name for road tunnel as it takes on colonial past. Brussels has also launched a project to decolonize public space within the city, this was in direct reaction to the BLM movement. This is the most significant action the Belgian state has taken in an attempt to reshape its public history. From road tunnels to parks, the city is making an effort to change. All of these are very pertinent changes as Brussels is the capital city and hopefully, the rest of the nation follows suit. It is equally important to note the work being carried out by the government institution, Inter-Federal Centre of Equal Opportunities (UNIA), which is a public institution that fights discrimination and works to promote equal opportunities for African descendants in Belgium, has acted tremendously to improve the life of African descendants in Belgium

Despite these advancements, many flaws must be addressed. The Royal Museum of Central Africa chooses certain displays to take down but maintains that history must be preserved. The problem with this is not the artifacts themselves, rather the information and context that turns their public history into a glorification of colonialism. The same can be said for the textbooks and educational resources propagated by the state. The history told in these state resources surrounding the Congolese genocide and the colonisation of Africa do not accurately portray the events and continues a passive ignorant mindset towards this part of their history. It furthers a paternalistic take on history that paints the Belgian leaders as people who were benevolent and brought civilization; When in reality they were brutal oppressors to native populations who exploited and abused central Africa in the name of wealth. While progress is being made, it is not nearly enough considering the global progress and the scale of impact Belgium's colonisation continues to have domestically and internationally.

African reparations

Countries such as Congo and Burundi still have effects today of the violence and loss from the Congolese genocide over a century ago. Their overall underdevelopment and indicators such as HDI, CPI, and GDP can be directly linked to the causes of Belgian colonization. Burundi has asked for $43 billion in reparations, while the Belgian government has yet to offer anything. Other African countries have sought reparations but Belgium has yet to pay any. This is significant because the lack of response and acknowledgment shown by the Belgian government especially during this racially charged period in time points to a blind spot of ignorance of the state. The farthest they have gone to show any sort of repatriation is by returning the tooth of an important political figure in Congo, this information can be accessed here: Belgium to return tooth of assassinated Congolese leader Patrice Lumumba to family | DW | 10.09.2020. This is dismal because it fails to acknowledge the ongoing effects of their colonists' period which paints horribly for their public history in the diplomatic sphere. The Belgian government has an opportunity to better utilize public history for the good of their image, as well as their growth as a country and relations with others however by not taking actions they are hurting themselves. Not only have the economies of these post-colony countries not been able to fully develop, the success of the Belgium economy that is rooted in colonisation creates a twisted paradox for these countries; Their resources and suffering were exploited by an Imperial power who continues to reap the benefits while they are left impoverished and impacted. In this sense, the exploitation of central Africa by Belgium continues today.

Conclusions and recommendations.

Belgium is missing the opportunity to take advantage of such a racially charged time to condemn their past behaviour, acknowledge their impact on Africa, and offer their support to countries they devastated. Belgium should uplift itself by creating a new public history, one that condemns their past. After 11 weeks of social media observation, the Belgium Ministry of Foreign affairs has not posted any content related to racial awareness or their former African colonies. One of the greatest tools today is social media, instead of only posting the glories of their country they should bring awareness to their past, on the biggest platform possible. However, it is not enough to bring light to this issue on social media. It is important to work with other governments, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, to amend and take necessary actions. Belgium needs to consider economic treaties with central Africa that would not only benefit both countries but make reparations for the African states. The goal of Belgian actions should be not only to acknowledge their colonial past but to actively make reparations and accurately acknowledge their atrocities and the impact they have had on central Africa, as well as the impact it's had on Belgian success as a country.

While Belgium ignores their colonial past, surrounding countries such as the Netherlands condemn and continue to actively work against racial cleavages in society. France, in a similar manner, continues to denounce the actions taken by Napoleon Bonaparte and even uses their history to emphasize their strengths not only in times of racial equality but also during coronavirus. With this in mind, it is time for Belgium to step up and meet or exceed the awareness of their neighbours and take actions to address their history and use it as a tool to improve.

Categorías Global Affairs: Unión Europea Orden mundial, diplomacia y gobernanza Comentarios


COMMENTARY /  Norman Sempijja

When President Yoweri Museveni came to power in 1986, he oversaw a reset of Ugandan politics for the next 35 years. He outlawed parties and formed a movement system which although has sometimes been described as a one-party state was crucial in bringing all groups on board to chart the way forward for a country that had been ravaged by misrule and conflict for almost 20 years.

Fast forward 2021, we are faced with a slightly different situation but of likely grave consequences. Uganda is in the middle of a stand-off between President Museveni and his challenger Mr Robert Kyagulanyi (also known as Bobi Wine). The issue relates to the outcome of the 2021 presidential election which although was held in a very peaceful manner had gross vote-counting irregularities. The Uganda electoral commission gave Museveni 58.6% and Kyagulanyi 34.8%. On the other hand, the tallying centres set up by Kyagulanyi’s team using the Uvote app where declaration forms were uploaded once counting was done have so far given Kyagulanyi 71% and Museveni around 25% of the vote. Vote counting is still ongoing. With Kyagulanyi unlikely to concede Museveni decided to put him under house arrest to prevent him from leading mass protests. The internet was also switched off for 5 days and at the moment social media can only be accessed through the use of VPN services.

Amid this melee is Covid-19 virus rampaging through the country. The health services are still not fully prepared to deal with a massive outbreak and although the lockdown has been eased, the economic impact will be felt for years. For a country that is largely agro-based and relies heavily on the informal sector, the impact has been dire on the already struggling population. Secondly, a worrying trend has emerged internationally where various variants of the Covid virus have been registered. For example, we have new covid-19 strains in the United Kingdom, South Africa, Brazil and Japan for now. Thus, questions have lingered about the effectiveness of the current vaccines in circulation to combat these new variants. But that is beside the point. Uganda has not secured any of the vaccines yet.

Therefore, Museveni as head of state faces a difficult situation. Does he pour the meagre resources at his disposal to contain Kyagulanyi? Or does he negotiate with him to chart a way forward out of this debilitating situation? Obviously, in trying to answer these questions he will have to weigh the cost-benefits to the solutions and gauge if they fit in his agenda.

So, let us imagine Museveni throws all his resources at containing Kyagulanyi. Well, he will have to curtail social media especially as it was crucial to ending former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. It is that powerful. But we should note that the internet is hard to police and is a medium through which a lot of people make a living. Either way patience will run out for the people whose livelihoods will be curtailed in the process. They will have no option but to organise protests. The bad news for Museveni is that according to African Union brief on the Sahel 2020 it is clear that violent clashes and violence against civilians are on the rise during these covid-19 times. If we mirror that with the November riots in Uganda, we are likely to see more protests if the heavy-handed policies of the state are continuously applied.

Museveni will also have to maintain Kyagulanyi under house arrest, but he will further draw the ire of the international community as his current gambit on the elections was a stretch too far. He may have burnt up his remaining currency with several international stakeholders. Apart from Western societies, citizens in different African countries have grown tired of Museveni and are pressuring their countries not to acknowledge his electoral win. This exasperation is among the young people especially in Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria and South Africa to mention but a few.

A combination of continental and international loss of support could set Uganda the same path as Zimbabwe under Mugabe if Museveni resorts to outright violence. We could see sanctions being applied on top of the travel restrictions already imposed on key players within Museveni’s government. The problem for Museveni is Uganda does not possess strong support in East Africa as Mugabe did in Southern Africa. Plus, Museveni’s relationship with President Kagame has been frosty, to say the least. Either way, he will have to deal with mass protests in support of freedom for Kyagulanyi in Uganda. This will call for further investment in the police and army to contain the situation. Let us not forget that with the fluid nature of Covid-19 pandemic, the country could face deep human security issues. Hence containing Kyagulanyi will come at a very political and economic cost both to Museveni and Uganda.

What if Museveni decided to negotiate with Kyagulanyi and form a government of national unity? This wouldn’t be without precedent as Museveni set into place the movement system discussed earlier that brought everyone on board and for 10 years the country benefitted from collective governance (except the north which was experiencing an insurgency). I’m of the persuasion that Uganda is again on similar footing. Institutions have been degraded and cannot perform independently. There is a lot of frustration with the current regime as exemplified by the parliamentary elections where the vice president and 24 ministers lost their seats. By inviting Kyagulanyi onboard Museveni will be pressing the reset button especially as he will inject young people into the system, and they could play a key role in reducing corruption and improving service delivery.

It would cost Museveni some political capital among the entrenched supporters, but it will save his legacy. He will be seen as a father of a nation mentoring young leaders to take over from him. Right now, he is seen as an insensitive, power-hungry despot. But that could change in an instant if he goes for a coalition with Kyagulanyi and other leaders like Mugisha Muntu, Nobert Mao and Patrick Amuriat. The resources that would have been spent on containing them would be allocated to the heavily challenged health care system to combat Covid-19 and other ailments.

Moreover, this will save the National Resistance Movement political party from oblivion once Museveni goes. The reason for this is the party has struggled to attract a strong intellectual and ideological talent within its ranks as it has been accused of nepotism. This would be a good time to reset the party and its structures and prepare for the transition from Museveni. By co-opting the opposition into government this will put them under scrutiny and any blunders they make will further give NRM a softer landing come 2026.

The benefit for Kyagulanyi would be experience in government. Although he was a member of parliament, gaining further experience in public governance would do him a lot of good and also build a strong support base within the country. Since his political party has the largest number of opposition members of parliament this will give him further credibility and foundation to strengthen his National Unity platform party (NUP). The same will apply for the Alliance for National Transformation (ANT) led by Mugisha Muntu. The other parties like Forum for Democratic Change (led by Patrick Amuriat) and Democratic Party (led by Nobert Mao) will get a new lease of life.

Therefore, due to the circumstances afoot, it would be of immense political worth to form a government of national unity under the leadership of President Yoweri Museveni but with considerable influence of the other parties especially the National Unity Platform, Alliance for National Transformation, Democratic Party and Forum for democratic Change. This will pause the political animosity as the country goes into reforms to ensure more transparent electoral and governance processes.

Categorías Global Affairs: África Orden mundial, diplomacia y gobernanza Comentarios

Imagen satelital de las islas Canarias [NASA]

COMENTARIO /  Natalia Reyna Sarmiento

La pandemia global causada por el Covid-19 ha obligado a aplicar cuarentenas y otras restricciones en todas partes el mundo y eso ha limitado enormemente los movimientos de personas de unos países a otros. No obstante, el fenómeno migratorio ha seguido su curso, también en el caso de Europa, donde el cierre de fronteras durante parte de 2020 no ha impedido la inmigración ilegal, como la procedente del África subsahariana. De hecho, la miseria sanitaria de los países pobres ha añadido en este tiempo de pandemia otro motivo de fuga desde los países de origen.

El incremento de las migraciones en las últimas décadas ha sido consecuencia de diversos desafíos humanitarios. La falta de seguridad, el temor a la persecución, la violencia, los conflictos y la pobreza, entre otros motivos, generan una situación de vulnerabilidad que empuja en muchos casos a quienes sufren esas circunstancias a salir de su país en busca de mejores condiciones. La emergencia del Covid-19 ha sido otro elemento de vulnerabilidad en las sociedades con escasos recursos médicos en el último año también, al tiempo que la llegada de migrantes sin conocer si eran portadores o no del virus ha agravado la resistencia social hacia la inmigración en las economías desarrolladas. Ambas cuestiones se dieron la mano especialmente en la crisis migratoria vivida por las islas Canarias a lo largo de 2020, sobre todo en los últimos meses.

Catorce años después de la “crisis de los cayucos”, el archipiélago experimentó otro notable auge de llegada de inmigrantes (esta vez el término que se ha generalizado para sus embarcaciones es el de pateras). En 2020 llegaron a Canarias más de 23.000 inmigrantes, en travesías que al menos se cobraron la vida de cerca de 600 personas. Si en 2019 arribaron a las islas unas cien embarcaciones con inmigrantes ilegales, en 2020 fueron más de 550, lo que habla de un fenómeno migratorio multiplicado por cinco.

¿Por qué se produjo ese incremento, redirigiendo a las islas Canarias un flujo que otras veces ha buscado la ruta del Mediterráneo? Por un lado, sigue primando la travesía marítima para alcanzar Europa, pues además del coste del pasaje aéreo –prohibitivo para muchos–, los vuelos exigen una documentación que muchas veces no se posee o que facilita un control por parte de las autoridades –de salida y de llegada– que desee evitarse. Por otro lado, las dificultades en puntos de la ruta del Mediterráneo, como políticas más estrictas en la admisión refugiados rescatados del mar impuestas por Italia o la situación de guerra que vive Libia, donde llegan itinerarios que por ejemplo salen de Sudán, Nigeria y Chad, derivaron parte de la presión de las mafias migratorias hacia Canarias. En ello también pudo tener un papel la actitud de Marruecos.

España tiene interés en mantener una buena relación con Marruecos por razones obvias. Su frontera con Ceuta y Melilla y su proximidad a las islas Canarias le convierte en un vecino que puede contribuir tanto a la seguridad como a intensificar la presión migratoria sobre territorio español. Precisamente en un momento crítico de la crisis canaria, el ministro español de Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, acudió el 20 de noviembre al vecino país a entrevistarse con su homólogo marroquí, Abdelouafi Laftit, con la intensión de requerir la ayuda de la monarquía alauí para poner freno a la crisis migratoria. No obstante, aunque en los siguientes días se registró una disminución de llegadas de pateras a Canarias, pronto las llegadas fueron aumentando otra vez, dejando efectividad la visita realizada por Marlaska.

Por otro lado, en esas semanas, Pablo Iglesias, vicepresidente del Gobierno español y secretario general de Podemos, reclamó a Marruecos la celebración de un referéndum sobre el futuro del Sáhara Occidental, excolonia española y bajo tutela marroquí admitida por la ONU hasta la celebración de consulta al pueblo saharaui. La admisión en esos mismos días de la soberanía de Marruecos sobre el Sáhara Occidental por parte de la Administración Trump (a cambio del establecimiento de relaciones diplomáticas entre Marruecos e Israel) llevó a Rabat a esperar una revisión de la postura española, que está alineada con el planteamiento de la ONU. La ratificación de esta por boca de Iglesias y sobre todo su tono de exigencia hizo que el monarca marroquí, Mohamed VI, decidiera no recibir al presidente del Gobierno español, Pedro Sánchez en un desplazamiento que iba a haber al vecino país. Otros asuntos, como la delimitación de las aguas territoriales hecha por Marruecos en enero, expandiendo su zona económica exclusiva, han aumentado los desencuentros entre los dos países.

A la tensión normal en Canarias por la llegada de miles de inmigrantes en poco tiempo se juntaron los riesgos sanitarios debidos a la pandemia. Más allá de los miedos extendidos por algunos sobre la posible entrada de personas efectivamente contagiadas con coronavirus, los protocolos establecidos obligaban a mantener aislados a los llegados en pateras, lo que causó un problema de hacinamiento en instalaciones inicialmente no adecuadas.

La Cruz Roja Española creó zonas reservadas para los aislamientos de las personas que dieran positivo en los tests de Covid-19. Además, se establecieron macrocampamentos temporales para realojar a miles de migrantes que primero estuvieron acogidos en distintos hoteles. El traslado de grupos de ellos por avión a puntos de la Península creó polémicas que el Gobierno tuvo que capear. La entrada de 2021 ha rebajado, al menos momentáneamente, la presión.

Categorías Global Affairs: Unión Europea Orden mundial, diplomacia y gobernanza Comentarios

A Challenger 2 tank on Castlemartin Ranges in Pembrokeshire, Wales, fires a ‘Squash-Head’ practice round [UK MoD]

▲ A Challenger 2 tank on Castlemartin Ranges in Pembrokeshire, Wales, fires a ‘Squash-Head’ practice round [UK MoD]

COMMENTARY / Jairo Císcar Ruiz

At the end of last summer, two news pieces appeared in the forums and specialized magazines of the military field in the Anglo-Saxon world. The first of them was the forecast of the continuity (and worsening due to the current pandemic) of the spending cuts suffered in the UK Defense budget since 2010. The second, linked to the first, was the growing rumors of a possible withdrawal of the Challenger 2 tanks, which were already reduced to a quarter of their original strength. At a time of great economic instability, it seemed that the UK's strategic vision had decided to focus on its main assets to maintain its deterrent power and its projection of force: the very expensive nuclear arsenal and the maintenance and expansion of new naval groups in order to host the F-35B.

However, both pieces of news have been quickly overtaken by the announcement of the Boris Johnson executive to inject about 22 billion dollars over 4 years to take British power back to the levels of 30 years ago. Also, the decommissioning of battle tanks was dismissed by ministerial sources, who argued that it was simply a possibility raised in the "Integrated Review" that is being carried out by the British Ministry of Defense.

Although the waters have calmed down, the debate that has arisen as a result of these controversies seems extremely interesting, as well as the role that armored units will have on the battlefield of the future. This article aims to make a brief reflection, identifying possible scenarios and their implications.

The first of them It is a reality: the United Kingdom must improve its armored forces, which run the risk of becoming obsolete, not only in the face of threats (Russia has had since 2015 the T-14 Armata, a 5th generation tank; and recently the modernized version of the mythical T-90, Proryv-3), but also in front of their allies, such as France or Germany, which are already starting the project to replace their respective armor with the future European Main Battle Tank. It is not only a matter of improving their operational capabilities, but also of evolving their survival on the battlefield.

At a time when military technology is advancing by leaps and bounds (hypersonic projectiles; battlefield dominated by technology; extensive use of drones ...), it is necessary to rethink the traditional way of waging war. In the last Nagorno-Karabakh crisis, images and evidence of the effectiveness of the use of Israeli “suicide” drones could be seen against groups of infantry, but also against armored vehicles and tanks. Despite Foreign Policy accusing poor training and the complex terrain as the main factors for these casualties, the question is still up in the air: does the "classic" tank as we know it still have a place on the battlefield?

Experience tells us yes[1].  The tank is vital in large military operations, although, as noted above, new threats must be countered with new defenses. To this day, the tank remains the best vehicle to provide direct fire quickly and efficiently, against other armor, infantry, and reinforced enemy positions. By itself it is an exceptional striking force, although it must always act in accordance with the rest of the deployed troops, especially with Intelligence, Logistics units and the Infantry. It should not be forgotten that in a battlefield characterized by hybrid warfare, it is necessary to consider the increasingly changing environment of threats.

Sensors and detection systems on the battlefield are persistently more innovative and revolutionary, capable of detecting armored vehicles, even if they are camouflaged; when integrated with lethal precision firing systems, they make concealing and wearing heavy armor a challenge. There are technical responses to these threats, from countering electronic direction finding through spoofing and interference, to mounting active protection systems on vehicle hulls.

Despite the above, obviously, the battle tank continues to be a great investment in terms of money that must be made, questionable in front of the taxpayer in an environment of economic crisis, although at the strategic level it may not be.

There are also those who broke a spear in favor of withdrawing the tanks from their inventories, and it seems that today they regret having made this decision. The United Kingdom has the example of the army of the Netherlands, which in 2011 withdrew and sold to Finland 100 of its 120 Leopard 2A6s as a means of saving money and changing military doctrine. However, with Russia's entry into Ukraine and its increasing threats to NATO's eastern flank, they soon began to miss the armored forces' unique capabilities: penetrating power, high mobility that enables turning movements to engulf the enemy, maneuverability, speed, protection, and firepower. In the end, in 2015, they handed over their last 20 tanks (crews and mechanics included) to the German army, which since then has a contingent of a hundred Dutch, forming the Panzerbataillon 414. Knowing how important the concept of “lessons learned” is in military planning, perhaps the UK should pay attention to this case and consider its needs and the capabilities required to meet them.

A roadmap to the middle position would be to move towards an “army of specialization”, abandoning its armored units and specializing in other areas such as cyber or aviation; but this would only be possible within the framework of a defense organization more integrated than NATO. Although it is only a distant possibility, the hypothetical and much mentioned European Army -of which the United Kingdom would most likely be excluded after the Brexit- could lead to the creation of national armed forces that would be specialized in a specific weapon, relying on other countries to fulfill other tasks. However, this possibility belongs right now to the pure terrain of reverie and futurology, since it would require greater integration at all levels in Europe to be able to consider this possibility.

In the end we find the main problem when organizing and maintaining an army, which is none other than money. On many occasions this aspect, which is undoubtedly vital, completely overshadows any other consideration. And in the case of a nation’s armed forces, this is very dangerous. It would be counterproductive to ignore the tactical and strategic aspects to favor just the purely pecuniary ones. The reality is that Western armed forces, whether from the United Kingdom or any other NATO country, face not only IEDs and insurgent infantry in the mountainous regions of the Middle East, but also may have to confront peer rivals equipped with huge armored forces. Russia itself has about 2,000 battle tanks (that is, not counting other armored vehicles, whether they are capable of shooting rounds or not). China increases that figure up to 6,900 (more than half are completely out of date, although they are embarking on a total remodeling of the Chinese People's Army in all its forces). NATO does not forget the challenges, hence the mission "Enhanced Forward Presence" in Poland and the Baltic Republics, in which Spain contributes a Tactical Group that includes 6 Leopardo 2A6 Main Battle Tanks, 14 Pizarro Infantry Fighting Vehicles, and other armored infantry transports.

Certainly, war is changing. We can't even imagine how technology will change the battlefield in the next decade. Sometimes, though, it is better not to get ahead of time. Taking all aspects into account, perhaps the best decision the UK Ministry of Defense could make would be to modernize its tank battalions to adapt them to the current environment, and thus maintain a balanced military with full operational capabilities. It is plausible to predict that the tank still has a journey in its great and long history on the battlefield, from the Somme, to the war of the future. Time (and money) will tell what ends up happening.

[1] Doubts have existed since the very "birth" of the battle tank during the First World War. In each great war scene of the twentieth century that has contributed significant technological innovations (World War I; Spanish Civil War; World War II; Cold War; Gulf ...) it seemed that the tank was going to disappear under new weapons and technologies (first reliability problems, then anti-tank weapons and mines, aviation, RPG's and IED's…) However, armies have learned how to evolve battle tanks in line with the times. Even more valuable, today's tanks are the product of more than 100 years of battles, with many lessons learned and incorporated into its development, not only on a purely material level, but also in tactics and training.

Categorías Global Affairs: Seguridad y defensa Comentarios Global

COMENTARIO Sebastián Bruzzone

“Hemos fallado… Debimos haber actuado antes frente a la pandemia”. No son palabras de un politólogo, científico o periodista, sino de la propia canciller Angela Merkel dirigiéndose a los otros 27 líderes de la Unión Europea el 29 de octubre de 2020.

Cualquier persona que haya seguido las noticias desde marzo hasta hoy puede darse cuenta fácilmente de que ningún gobierno en el mundo ha sabido controlar la expansión del coronavirus, excepto en un país: Nueva Zelanda. Su primera ministra, la joven Jacinda Ardern, cerró las fronteras el 20 de marzo e impuso una cuarentena de 14 días para los neozelandeses que volviesen del extranjero. Su estrategia “go hard, go early” ha obtenido resultados positivos si se comparan con el resto del planeta: menos de 2.000 infectados y 25 fallecidos desde el inicio de la crisis sanitaria. Y la pregunta es: ¿cómo lo han hecho? La respuesta es relativamente sencilla: su comportamiento unilateral.

Los más escépticos a esta idea pueden pensar que “Nueva Zelanda es una isla y ha sido más fácil de controlar”. Sin embargo, es necesario saber que Japón también es una isla y tiene más de 102.000 casos confirmados, que Australia ha tenido más de 27.000 infectados, o que Reino Unido, que es incluso más pequeño que Nueva Zelanda, tiene más de un millón de contagiados. El porcentaje de casos sobre los habitantes totales de Nueva Zelanda es ínfimo, tan solo un 0,04% de su población ha sido infectada.

Mientras los Estados del mundo esperaban que la Organización Mundial de la Salud (OMS) estableciese unas directrices para dar una respuesta común frente a la crisis mundial, Nueva Zelanda se alejó del organismo desoyendo sus recomendaciones totalmente contradictorias, que el presidente estadounidense Donald J. Trump calificó como “errores mortales” mientras suspendía la aportación americana a la organización. El viceprimer ministro japonés Taro Aro llegó a decir que la OMS debería cambiar de nombre y llamarse “Organización China de la Salud”.

El caso neozelandés es el ejemplo del debilitamiento del multilateralismo actual. Lejos queda aquel concepto de cooperación multilateral que dio origen a la Organización de las Naciones Unidas (ONU) tras la Segunda Guerra Mundial, cuyo fin era mantener la paz y la seguridad en el mundo. Los fundamentos de la gobernanza global fueron diseñados por y para Occidente. Las potencias del siglo XX ya no son las potencias del siglo XXI: países emergentes como China, India o Brasil exigen más poder en el Consejo de Seguridad de la ONU y en el Fondo Monetario Internacional (FMI). La falta de valores y objetivos comunes entre países desarrollados y países emergentes está minando la legitimidad y relevancia de las organizaciones multilaterales del siglo pasado. De hecho, China ya propuso en 2014 la creación del Asian Investment Infrastructure Bank (AIIB) como alternativa al FMI o al Banco Mundial.

La Unión Europea tampoco se salva del desastre multilateral porque tiene atribuida la competencia compartida en los asuntos comunes de seguridad en materia de salud pública (TFUE: art. 4.k)). El 17 de marzo, el Consejo Europeo tomó la incoherente decisión de cerrar las fronteras externas con terceros Estados cuando el virus ya estaba dentro en lugar de suspender temporal e imperativamente el Tratado de Schengen. En el aspecto económico, la desigualdad y el recelo entre los países del norte y del sur con tendencia a endeudarse ha aumentado. La negativa de Holanda, Finlandia, Austria y demás frugales frente a la ayuda incondicional requerida por un país como España que tiene más coches oficiales y políticos que el resto de Europa y Estados Unidos juntos ponía en tela de juicio uno de los principios fundamentales sobre los que se construyó la Unión Europea: la solidaridad.

Europa ha sido la tormenta perfecta en un mar de incertidumbre y España, el ojo del huracán. El fondo de recuperación económico europeo es un término que eclipsa lo que realmente es: un rescate financiero. Un total de 750.000 millones de euros repartidos principalmente entre Italia, Portugal, Francia, Grecia y España, que recibirá 140.000 millones y que devolverán los hijos de nuestros nietos. Parece una fantasía que las primeras ayudas sanitarias que recibió Italia proviniesen de terceros Estados y no de sus socios comunitarios, pero se convirtió en una realidad cuando los primeros aviones de China y Rusia aterrizaron en el aeropuerto de Fiumicino el 13 de marzo. La pandemia está resultando ser un examen de conciencia y credibilidad para la Unión Europea, un barco camino del naufragio con 28 tripulantes intentando achicar el agua que lo hunde lentamente.

Grandes académicos y políticos confirman que los Estados necesitan el multilateralismo para responder de forma conjunta y eficaz a los grandes riesgos y amenazas que han traspasado las fronteras y para mantener la paz global. Sin embargo, esta idea se derrumba al reparar en que el máximo referente del bilateralismo de hoy, Donald J. Trump, ha sido el único presidente estadounidense desde 1980 que no ha iniciado una guerra en su primer mandato, que ha acercado posturas con Corea del Norte y que ha conseguido el reconocimiento de Israel por Bahréin y los Emiratos Árabes Unidos.

Es hora de cambiar la geopolítica hacia soluciones actualizadas y propuestas en el consenso basado en una gobernanza en cooperación y no en una gobernanza global dirigida por instituciones obsoletas y realmente poderosas. El multilateralismo globalista que busca unificar la actuación de países con raíces culturales e históricas muy dispares bajo una misma entidad supranacional a la que éstos ceden soberanía puede causar grandes enfrentamientos en el seno de la entente, provocar la salida de algunos de los miembros descontentos, la posterior extinción de la organización pretendida e, incluso, una enemistad o ruptura de relaciones diplomáticas.

Sin embargo, si los Estados con valores, leyes, normas consuetudinarias o intereses similares deciden agruparse bajo un Tratado o crean una institución regulatoria, incluso cediendo la soberanía justa y necesaria, el entendimiento será mucho más productivo. Así, una red de acuerdos bilaterales entre organizaciones regionales o entre Estados tiene la posibilidad de crear objetivos más precisos y específicos, a diferencia de firmar un tratado globalista en el que las extensas letras y listas de sus artículos y miembros pueden convertirse en humo y una mera declaración de intenciones como ha ocurrido con la Convención de París contra el Cambio Climático en 2015.

Esta última idea es el verdadero y óptimo futuro de las relaciones internacionales: el bilateralismo regional. Un mundo agrupado en organizaciones regionales formadas por países con características y objetivos análogos que negocien y lleguen a acuerdos con otros grupos de regiones mediante el diálogo, el entendimiento pacífico, el arte de la diplomacia y pactos vinculantes sin la necesidad de ceder el alma de un Estado: la soberanía.

Categorías Global Affairs: Orden mundial, diplomacia y gobernanza Comentarios Global

Joe Biden y Barack Obama en febrero de 2009, un mes después de llegar a la Casa Blanca [Pete Souza]

▲ Joe Biden y Barack Obama en febrero de 2009, un mes después de llegar a la Casa Blanca [Pete Souza]

COMENTARIO / Emili J. Blasco

Este artículo fue previamente publicado, algo abreviado, en el diario ‘Expansión’.

Uno de los grandes errores que revelan las elecciones presidenciales de Estados Unidos es haber subestimado la figura de Donald Trump, creyéndole una mera anécdota, y haber desconsiderado, por antojadiza, gran parte de su política. En realidad, el fenómeno Trump es una manifestación, si no una consecuencia, del actual momento estadounidense y algunas de sus principales decisiones, sobre todo en el ámbito internacional, tienen más que ver con imperativos nacionales que con volubles ocurrencias. Esto último sugiere que hay aspectos de política exterior, dejando aparte las maneras, en los que Joe Biden como presidente puede estar más cerca de Trump que de Barack Obama, sencillamente porque el mundo de 2021 es ya algo distinto al de la primera mitad de la anterior década.

En primer lugar, Biden tendrá que confrontar a Pekín. Obama comenzó a hacerlo, pero el carácter más asertivo de la China de Xi Jinping se ha ido acelerando en los últimos años. En el pulso de superpotencias, especialmente por el dominio de la nueva era tecnológica, Estados Unidos se lo juega todo frente a China. Cierto que Biden se ha referido a los chinos no como enemigos sino como competidores, pero la guerra comercial ya la empezó a plantear la Administración de la que él fue vicepresidente y ahora la rivalidad objetiva es mayor.

El repliegue de Estados Unidos tampoco responde a una locura de Trump. En el fondo tiene que ver, simplificando algo, con la independencia energética alcanzada por los estadounidenses: ya no necesitan el petróleo de Oriente Medio y ya no tienen que estar en todos los océanos para asegurar la libre navegación de los tanqueros. El ‘America First’ de algún modo ya lo inició también Obama y Biden no irá en dirección opuesta. Así que, por ejemplo, no cabrá esperar una gran implicación en asuntos de la Unión Europea ni que se retomen negociaciones en firme para un acuerdo de libre comercio entre ambos mercados atlánticos.

En los dos principales logros de la era Obama –el acuerdo nuclear con Irán sellado por Estados Unidos, la UE y Rusia, y el restablecimiento de relaciones diplomáticas entre Washington y La Habana– Biden tendrá difícil transitar por el sendero entonces definido. Puede haber intentos de nueva aproximación a Teherán, pero habría una mayor coordinación en contra por parte de Israel y el mundo suní, instancias que ahora convergen más. Biden podría encontrarse con que una menor presión sobre los ayatolás empuja a Arabia Saudí hacia la bomba atómica.

En cuanto a Cuba, la vuelta a una disensión estará más en las manos del gobierno cubano que del propio Biden, que en la pérdida electoral en Florida ha podido leer un rechazo a cualquier condescendencia con el castrismo. Pueden desmontarse algunas de las nuevas restricciones impuestas por Trump a Cuba, pero si La Habana sigue sin mostrar voluntad real de cambio y apertura, la Casa Blanca ya no tendrá por qué seguir apostando por concesiones políticas a crédito.

En el caso de Venezuela, Biden posiblemente replegará buena parte de las sanciones, pero ya no cabe una política de inacción como la de Obama. Aquella Administración no confrontó más el chavismo por dos razones: porque no quiso molestar a Cuba dadas las negociaciones secretas que mantenía con ese país para reabrir sus embajadas y porque el nivel de letalidad del régimen aún no se había hecho insoportable. Hoy los informes internacionales sobre derechos humanos son unánimes sobre la represión y la tortura del gobierno de Maduro, y además la llegada de millones de refugiados venezolanos a los distintos países de la región obligan a tomar cartas en el asunto. Aquí lo esperable es que Biden pueda actuar de modo menos unilateral y, sin dejar de presionar, busque la coordinación con la Unión Europea.

Suele ocurrir que quien llega a la Casa Blanca se ocupa de los asuntos nacionales en sus primeros años y que más adelante, especialmente en un segundo mandato, se centre en dejar un legado internacional. Por edad y salud, es posible que el nuevo inquilino solo esté un cuadrienio. Sin el idealismo de Obama de querer “doblar el arco de la historia” –Biden es un pragmático, producto del establishment político estadounidense– ni las prisas del empresario Trump por el beneficio inmediato, es difícil imaginar que su Administración vaya a tomar serios riesgos en la escena internacional.

Biden ha confirmado su compromiso de arrancar su presidencia en enero revirtiendo algunas decisiones de Trump, notablemente en lo relativo al cambio climático y el acuerdo de París; en lo que afecta a algunos frentes arancelarios, como el castigo innecesario que la Administración saliente ha aplicado a países europeos, y en relación a diversos asuntos de inmigración, lo que sobre todo incumbe a Centroamérica.

De todos modos, aunque la izquierda demócrata quiera empujar a Biden hacia ciertos márgenes, creyendo tener en la vicepresidenta Kamala Harris una aliada, el presidente electo puede hacer valer su personal moderación: el hecho de que en las elecciones él haya obtenido mejor resultado que el propio partido le da, de momento, suficiente autoridad interna. Por lo demás, los republicanos han resistido bastante bien en el Senado y la Cámara de Representantes, de forma que Biden llega a la Casa Blanca con menos apoyo en el Capitolio que sus antecesores. Eso, en cualquier caso, puede contribuir a reforzar uno de los rasgos en general más valorados hoy del político de Delaware: la predictibilidad, algo que las economías y las cancillerías de buena parte de los países del mundo esperan con ansiedad.

Categorías Global Affairs: Norteamérica Orden mundial, diplomacia y gobernanza Comentarios

COMENTARIO / Rafael Calduch Torres*

Tal y como manda la tradición desde 1845, el primer martes de noviembre, el próximo día 3, los habitantes con derecho a voto de los cincuenta estados que conforman Estados Unidos, tomarán parte en el quincuagésimo noveno Election Day, el día en el que se conforma el Colegio Electoral, que tendrá que elegir entre mantener al cuadragésimo quinto Presidente de los Estados Unidos de América, Donald Trump, o escoger al cuadragésimo sexto, Joe Biden.


Pero el verdadero problema al que se enfrentan no sólo los habitantes de EEUU, sino el resto de población del planeta es que tanto Trump como Biden plantean su estrategia internacional en clave interna, siguiendo la estela del cambio que se produjo en el país a raíz de los atentados del 11-S y cuyo resultado fundamental ha sido la ausencia de un liderazgo efectivo de la superpotencia americana en los últimos veinte años. Porque si hay algo que nos tiene que quedar claro es el hecho de que ninguno de los candidatos, como no lo hicieron sus predecesores, tiene un plan que permita retomar el liderazgo internacional del que disfrutaron los Estados Unidos hasta el final de la década de los ’90; por el contrario lo que les urge es resolver los problemas domésticos y supeditar las cuestiones internacionales, que una superpotencia de la talla de los EEUU debe afrontar, a las soluciones que se adopten internamente, lo que es uno de los graves errores estratégicos de nuestra era, pues los liderazgos internacionales fuertes y coherentes con la gestión de los problemas internos han permitido históricamente la creación de puntos de encuentro en la sociedad estadounidense que amortiguan las divisiones y cohesionan al país.

Sin embargo, pese a estas similitudes generales hay una clara diferencia entre ambos candidatos a la hora de abordar los temas internacionales que afectará a los resultados de la elección que harán el martes los estadounidenses.

The Power of America’s example”. Con este eslogan, la propuesta general de Biden, mucho más clara y accesible que la de Trump, desarrolla un plan para liderar el mundo democrático en el S. XXI basado en utilizar la forma en la que se solucionarán los problemas domésticos estadounidenses como ejemplo, aglutinante y sostén de su liderazgo internacional; ni que decir tiene que la mera suposición de que los problemas internos de los Estados Unidos no sean exactamente extrapolables al resto de actores internacionales no se tiene tan siquiera en cuenta.

Así el candidato demócrata, utilizando una retórica bastante tradicional en torno a la dignificación del liderazgo, utiliza la conexión entre realidad interna e internacional, para plantear un programa de regeneración nacional sin concretar cómo ello conseguirá restablecer el liderazgo internacional perdido. Este planteamiento se sustentará sobre dos pilares principales que serán la regeneración democrática del país y la reconstrucción de la clase media estadounidense que, a su vez, permitirán apuntalar otros proyectos internacionales

La regeneración democrática descansará en el refuerzo de los sistemas educativo y judicial, la transparencia, la lucha contra la corrupción o el fin de los ataques a los medios y se plantea como el instrumento para el restablecimiento del liderazgo moral del país que, además de inspirar a otros, serviría para que los EE.UU. trasladasen esas políticas nacionales estadounidenses al ámbito internacional, para que otros las sigan y las imiten a través de una suerte de liga global por la democracia que se nos antoja muy nebulosa.

Mientras tanto, la reconstrucción de la clase media, la misma a la que apeló Trump hace cuatro años, pasaría por una mayor inversión en innovación tecnológica y una supuesta mayor equidad global respecto al comercio internacional, del que se beneficiaría sobre todo Estados Unidos.

Finalmente, todo lo anterior se complementaría con una nueva era en el control armamentístico internacional a través de un nuevo tratado START entre EEUU y Rusia, el liderazgo de EEUU en la lucha contra el cambio climático, el fin de las intervenciones en suelo extranjero, particularmente en Afganistán, y el restablecimiento de la diplomacia como elemento vertebrador de la política exterior estadounidense.

Promises Made, promises kept!”. ¿Cuál es la alternativa de Trump? El actual Presidente no desvela cuáles son sus proyectos y plantea, sin embargo, un repaso a sus “logros” que, entendemos, nos dará idea de lo que será su política exterior que girará en torno a la continuidad en el reequilibrio comercial de los EEUU basado, como hasta ahora, en un blindaje de las compañías estadounidenses frente la inversión extranjera, la imposición de nuevos aranceles, la lucha contra prácticas comerciales fraudulentas especialmente por parte de China y el restablecimiento de las relaciones de EEUU con sus aliados en Asia/Pacífico, Oriente Medio y Europa, pero sin propuestas específicas.

Con respecto al ámbito de la seguridad, tratado de forma diferenciada por Trump, la receta es el aumento de los gastos en defensa, el blindaje del territorio de los Estados Unidos contra el terrorismo y la oposición a Corea del Norte, Venezuela e Irán, a la que se unirá el mantenimiento y expansión de la reciente campaña de acciones dirigidas específicamente contra Rusia, con el objetivo declarado de contenerla en Ucrania y de evitar ciberataques.

Pero la realidad es que ambos candidatos tendrán que enfrentar retos globales que no han considerado en sus programas y que les condicionarán decisivamente en sus mandatos, empezando por la gestión de la pandemia y sus efectos económicos a escala mundial y pasando por la creciente competición de la Unión Europea, sobre todo a medida que se desarrollen sus capacidades militares y de defensa comunes.

Como acabamos de evidenciar, ninguno de los candidatos ofrecerá soluciones nuevas y por ello no es probable que la situación mejore, al menos en el corto plazo.

* Doctor en Historia Contemporánea. Licenciado en Ciencias Políticas y de la Administración. Profesor de la UNAV y de la UCJC

Categorías Global Affairs: Norteamérica Orden mundial, diplomacia y gobernanza Comentarios

COMENTARIO / Juan Luis López Aranguren

Si la diplomacia tradicional se entiende como las relaciones ejercidas entre representantes oficiales de los Estados, en los últimos años ha ganado popularidad un nuevo concepto de diplomacia que se ha vuelto cada vez más importante en las relaciones entre las naciones: la diplomacia cultural. Asumiendo que la cultura es el vehículo a través del cual las naciones se comunican entre sí, la diplomacia cultural es el intercambio de cultura, ideas e información que las naciones de todo el mundo realizan para lograr una comprensión mutua que permita avanzar en la construcción de un mundo más justo y estable. En este ámbito, la celebración de los Juegos Olímpicos es uno de los eventos de diplomacia cultural más importante que una nación puede lograr para proyectar y compartir su cultura e identidad con el resto del mundo. En este sentido, Japón reafirmó su posición como referente mundial de esta diplomacia con la aparición pública en la ceremonia de clausura de los JJOO de Río de Janeiro de 2016. En ella, el primer ministro japonés Shinzo Abe apareció caracterizado como el personaje mundialmente conocido Mario para recoger el testigo de cara a los JJOO de Tokio 2020. Japón empleaba, de esta manera, un icono de la cultura pop japonesa para proyectar su identidad cultural a todo el planeta. 

En esta dimensión del poder blando o diplomacia cultural, los Juegos Olímpicos son el mayor exponente del mismo. Ya en su origen, en el año 776 a.C., los JJOO se revelaban como una herramienta diplomática de extraordinaria fortaleza al obligar a una tregua sagrada a las diferentes ciudades-estado que participaban en los mismos. Por lo tanto, desde su mismo origen fue posible lograr objetivos políticos internacionales empleando esta herramienta cultural. Esta medida se observaba hasta el punto de que si alguna ciudad-estado violaba esta tregua, sus atletas eran expulsados de la competición.

Esta misma manifestación se ha repetido en épocas más recientes, demostrando que los JJOO han sido durante toda la Historia un campo de batalla diplomático. En 1980 los EEUU y otros 65 países boicotearon los JJOO de Moscú en protesta por la invasión de Afganistán por parte de la URSS. Como represalia, la URSS y otros 13 Estados boicotearon la siguiente edición de los JJOO en 1984 celebrada en Los Ángeles.

Los próximos Juegos Olímpicos de Tokio 2021 (retrasados un año debido a la pandemia) no arrastran ninguna polémica de este tipo. En su lugar han sido concebidos como una oportunidad histórica de reinvención del país a nivel interno y global tras la catástrofe de Fukushima (o Gran Terremoto del Este de Japón). Para ello se ha aprobado un proyecto oficial titulado Tokyo 2020 Action & Legacy Plan 2016 en el cual se pretende conseguir tres objetivos: en primer lugar, lograr la máxima conexión de ciudadanos japoneses y colectivos con los JJOO de Tokio. En segundo lugar, maximizar la proyección cultural tanto nacional como global. En tercer y último lugar, asegurar un legado de valor a las futuras generaciones, tal y como fue con ocasión de los JJOO de Tokio 1964.

Estos tres objetivos apuntados por el Gobierno japonés se manifestarán en cinco pilares dimensionales en los cuales se va a actuar. Estos cinco pilares se articulan a modo de los anillos olímpicos, entrelazándose entre ellos y fortaleciendo el impacto doméstico e internacional de estos JJOO. Estas dimensiones, son, empezando por el más inmediato a la propia vertiente puramente deportiva, la promoción del propio deporte y la salud. El segundo, conectar con la cultura y educación. El tercero, también con gran importancia por su potencial de reforma de Tokio en particular y Japón en general, la planificación urbana y la sostenibilidad. No en vano, El Gobierno japonés y el Gobierno metropolitano de Tokio han realizado grandes esfuerzos para construir infraestructuras ambiciosas que den cabida a estos JJOO, hasta el punto de relocalizar la famosa e icónica lonja de Tsukiji que ha sido un símbolo de la ciudad desde 1935. En cuarto lugar, estos JJOO se van a emplear para reactivar la economía y la innovación tecnológica, de la misma manera que ya lo hicieron los JJOO de Tokio de 1964 cuando sirvieron de escaparate para los primeros Shinkansen o trenes bala que se han convertido en uno de los iconos tecnológicos de Japón. Finalmente, en quinto lugar, Japón se planteó estos JJOO como una oportunidad de superar la crisis y el trauma provocado por el desastre de Fukushima (catástrofe que en el país nipón se denomina empleando el terremoto que lo provocó: el Gran Terremoto del Este de Japón).

A estos cinco objetivos que van desde lo más específico a los más general se les suma este 2020 un sexto objetivo o dimensión no oficial: proyectar a nivel doméstico e internacional la recuperación de Japón frente a la pandemia del COVID. En este sentido, los JJOO no serán solamente un símbolo de superación frente a un desastre particular japonés, sino que puede permitir al país nipón colocarse como un modelo en la gestión contra la pandemia y en la promoción de la recuperación económica.

Categorías Global Affairs: Asia Orden mundial, diplomacia y gobernanza Comentarios

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