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Mostrando postagens com marcador Ishaan Tharoor. Mostrar todas as postagens
Mostrando postagens com marcador Ishaan Tharoor. Mostrar todas as postagens

sexta-feira, 14 de fevereiro de 2020

USA: o declínio de uma grande democracia - Ishaan Tharoor (WP)

Trump’s authoritarian style is remaking America

Ishaan Tharoor
The Washington Post, February 13, 2020

President Trump speaks at a rally Feb. 10 in Manchester, N.H. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)
President Trump speaks at a rally Feb. 10 in Manchester, N.H. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)
Over the course of his presidency, there have been myriad warnings about President Trump’s authoritarian tendencies. He has played to the fears of his critics by blowing past the republic’s increasingly creaky system of checks and balances. And with the aid of a right-wing echo chamber, he has pushed forward a narrative that conflates national interest with his personal gainpatriotism with unflinching loyaltyto the occupant of the Oval Office.
As Trump embarks on a reelection campaign and basks in the aftermath of the Senate impeachment trial — in which, thanks to a Republican Party wholly captured by Trumpism, acquittal was seemingly always a fait accompli — he is adding to the strains on America’s polarized democracy. His calls this week for prosecutions of his perceived enemies and public attacks on federal judges and prosecutors involved in cases against his allies were so abnormal that it led to an unlikely rebuke from Attorney General William P. Barr, a Cabinet official largely viewed by Trump’s opponents as shamefully acquiescent.
The Washington Post’s White House reporters described a president“simmering with rage, fixated on exacting revenge against those he feels betrayed him and insulated by a compliant Republican Party.” He is willing to test the rule of law even further and is comfortable doing so, they reported, “to the point of feeling untouchable.”
“If a president can meddle in a criminal case to help a friend, then there’s nothing that keeps him from meddling to harm someone he thinks is his enemy,” Joyce White Vance, a former U.S. attorney, told my colleagues. “That means that a president is fully above the law in the most dangerous kind of way. This is how democracies die.”
 
The president’s demagoguery has left a deep mark on American society. An investigation by my colleagues sifted through 28,000 reports of bullying in U.S. schools and found hundreds of incidents in which Trump-inspired rhetoric was used to harass children, especially students from Hispanic, black or Muslim backgrounds.
“Since Trump’s rise to the nation’s highest office, his inflammatory language — often condemned as racist and xenophobic — has seeped into schools across America,” my colleagues wrote. “Many bullies now target other children differently than they used to, with kids as young as 6 mimicking the president’s insults and the cruel way he delivers them.”
This unsettling trend speaks of a deeper malaise and entrenched divisions. David Roberts at Vox argued that the United States is in the grips of an “epistemic” crisis: A decades-long right-wing project to create its own media bubble cemented a polarized political reality in which rival camps can’t even agree on the facts of their disagreements.
“That is what a tribalist like Trump wants: for communication and compromise across tribal lines to become impossible, so that loyalty becomes the only measure and everything is reduced to pure struggle for dominance,” Roberts wrote.
Lawmakers are still trying to check Trump’s power. On Thursday, every Democratic senator and eight Republicans in the Senate passed a resolution to curb Trump’s ability to order future strikes against Iran. But Trump is almost certain to veto the latest effort by Congress to assert its oversight authority over an emboldened executive.
Former Trump administration officials have emerged in public to criticize the president’s behavior and policies, including former White House chief of staff John Kelly on Wednesday. Myriad Republican politicians and operatives in private bemoan Trump’s hold on the party, but few are willing to risk overt dissent. Those who do are dragged through the coals by Trump and his loyalists.
“The Republican Party is betraying democracy, and these are historical times,” Jason Stanley, a Yale philosophy professor and author of “How Fascism Works,” told Business Insider. “The Republican Party has shown that it has no interest in multi-party democracy. … They are much more concerned with power, with consolidating power.”
The ruling party’s cynicism has engendered visions on the left of its wholesale defeat.
“The Republican Party is now a reliable opponent of equality and a malignant force in American life — a cancer within a patient in denial about the nature and severity of her condition,” wrote the New Republic’s Osita Nwanevu. “It should be not only defeated but destroyed — vanquished from the American political scene with a finality that can only be assured not by electoral politics or structural reforms alone, but by a moral crusade.”
This is, of course, hardly the first time the United States has been so divided. An important piece in the New Yorker by Harvard historian Jill Lepore examined the sense of democratic crisis that was felt by many Americans in the 1930s. She details the astonishing New Deal-era civic engagement that took place in response, the profusion of debates, publicly backed artistic projects, town halls and radio shows that drew in millions around the country.
“Our wisdom or ignorance stands in the way of our accepting the totalitarian assumption of Omniscience,” the historian Charles Beard argued at the time, when explaining how Americans would resist the pull of communism or fascism. “And to this extent it contributes to the continuance of the arguing, debating, never-settling-anything-finally methods of political democracy.”
 
There’s plenty of arguing now in America, but it’s hard to see any glimmers of civic reconciliation.

segunda-feira, 10 de fevereiro de 2020

USA-EU relationship: pains and strains - Ishaan Tharoor (WP)


By Ishaan Tharoor
with Ruby MellenThe Washington Post, February 8, 2020
 Email
The European Union and U.S. flags are displayed before a Feb. 7 meeting between U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the E.U. high representative for foreign affairs and security, Josep Borrell. (Samuel Corum/Getty Images)
The European Union and U.S. flags are displayed before a Feb. 7 meeting between U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the E.U. high representative for foreign affairs and security, Josep Borrell. (Samuel Corum/Getty Images)
The past three years have placed heavy strains on the transatlantic relationship. President Trump has cheered the European Union’s dismemberment, called into question American participation in the West’s most important military alliance and used the threat of punitive tariffs to bend traditional allies to his will.
Beleaguered politicians on the continent looked on as Trump scrapped America’s commitments to the Iran nuclear deal — the product of years of multilateral diplomacy and multiple high-wire summits hosted by the Europeans. They watched in dismay as Trump abdicated American leadership on climate action. And their objections were ignored as the White House rolled out a new road map for Middle East peace that contradicted the long-standing approach of both Washington and Brussels.
In this trying time, the E.U.’s top diplomat is putting on a brave face. “The list is long of things” that could be read as signs that the United States is “not very friendly,” said Josep Borrell, high representative of the European Union, in an exclusive interview with Today’s WorldView on Friday. But those differences, Borrell added, still can’t supersede a sense of transatlantic solidarity that endures.
“There are the things they say, and then the way things are,” he said. “We are not foes. We share common values.” 
Borrell was in Washington for a first visit in his new job as the de facto foreign policy chief in Brussels (he also spoke to Today’s WorldView in the summer of 2018, when he was Spain’s foreign minister). He met with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Trump’s son-in-law and White House adviser Jared Kushner, national security adviser Robert C. O’Brien and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
The veteran Spanish politician said that he and Pompeo are keen for a “reset” in ties between Europe and the United States, even as Trump plunges into a reelection campaign. “We are not going to banish [our disagreements] overnight, but the best thing we can do is talk about it,” Borrell said.
Those disagreements remain profound. Borrell, 72, arrived in Washington after a visit to Iran, where he went to help defuse simmering tensions in the Middle East. He also attempted to reassure the Iranian regime that Europe did not want to terminate the 2015 nuclear deal, which is a shell of an agreement after Trump slapped sanctions back on Tehran beginning in 2018. It’s a move that eventually compelled Iran to contravene some of the limits placed on its nuclear program.
“Without the deal, Iran would for sure be a nuclear power,” Borrell said. He insisted that it is still better now “to try to keep the deal alive and go back to full compliance for everyone,” a suggestion that would require the Trump administration to abandon its current campaign of “maximum pressure” on Iran.
That’s an unlikely outcome. Much to Iran’s chagrin, Europe has struggled to help offset the economic blow, with governments and companies wary of falling afoul of third-party U.S. sanctions. “This deal is not just a nuclear deal,” said Borrell, pointing to the fundamental element in the bargain for the Iranians of sanctions relief. “It’s nuclear on one side and economic on the other side.”
If Europe can’t come though, Borrell admitted, “the deal will die for sure.”
Borrell also offered caution on Trump’s Middle East peace proposal. Though he diplomatically welcomed any overture that could “break the stalemate” between the Israelis and Palestinians, he warned against a plan that seems more an “ultimatum” than a blueprint for negotiations. He indicated that Trump officials seem undeterred by the widespread backlash to the proposal, which would probably make a viable, sovereign Palestinian state an impossibility and which was written with no Palestinian buy-in.
“They are strongly convinced of the advantages of the plan, and they strongly believe that this is the last solution for the Palestinians,” Borrell said. He suggested that the plan seemed designed mostly to win “further support of the Israelis,” an approach that “for us, is not the way to proceed.”
But, because of internal divisions within the 27-member state bloc, the European Union could not even speak in one voice over its concerns about Trump’s proposals. In an age of increasing great-power competition, especially between the United States and China, Borrell stressed that Europe has to work “to forge unity step by step.”
“If we don’t have this internal unity, it’s clear that we won’t be a strong strategic player,” he said, pointing to the chaotic situation in Libya’s civil war — where different European governments are pursuing at times divergent objectives — as an illustrative case in point.
“We are no longer the empires that mastered the world,” Borrell said. The continent’s leadership, he said, faces a historic choice: Whether to “be part of this competition” or to “just exist as the playing field that received the backlash of the competition.”
Borrell hailed Europe “taking the lead on climate change.” But, even there, he argued that the continent could not go alone in taking radical action to reduce emissions.
“That’s why we aren’t happy when President Trump goes to Davos” and discounts climate change, he said. Climate change is “one of the most important things we can deal with.”

segunda-feira, 20 de janeiro de 2020

In Davos, a search for meaning with capitalism in crisis - Ishaan Tharoor (WP)

In Davos, a search for meaning with capitalism in crisis

DAVOS, Switzerland — The World Economic Forum, the most concentrated gathering of wealth and power on the planet, will begin once again amid a natural fortress of snow and ice in the Swiss Alps. President Trump is jetting in for a scheduled address Tuesday. Dozens of other world leaders are in attendance; a who’s who list of CEOs, fund managers, oligarchs and a smattering of celebrities will join the throngs cramming the pop-up pavilions and swanky hotel parties of the otherwise sleepy mountain town.
This year’s conclave will be the 50th since it began in 1971, marking a fitful half century of political turmoil and economic boom and bust. For years, Davos — that is, the conference of global leaders for which it has become synonymous — has represented the apotheosis of a particular world view: an almost Promethean belief in the virtues of liberalism and globalization, anchored in a conviction that heads of companies can become capable and even moral custodians of the common good.
The disruptions and traumas of the past decade have sorely tested Davos’s faith in itself. The archetypal Davos Man — the well-heeled, jet-setting “globalist” — has become an object of derision and distrust for both the political left and right. Financial crises, surging nationalist populism in the West, China’s intensifying authoritarianism and the steady toll of climate change have convinced many that there’s nothing inexorable about liberal progress. A new global opinion poll of tens of thousands of people found that more than 50 percent of those surveyed now think capitalism does “more harm than good.”
Each year, the forum is accompanied by an unsurprising airing of cynicism in the media. “It is [a] family reunion for the people who, in my view, broke the modern world,” Anand Giradharadas, an author and outspoken critic of billionaire philanthropy, said in a TV interview last year. Can Davos “keep its mojo?” the Economist asked over the weekend. “Once a beacon of international cooperation, Davos has become a punchline,” the New York Times noted.
Klaus Schwab, the forum’s octogenarian founder and executive chairman, is convinced that the current moment needs more Davos, not less. In the run-up to this week’s meetings, he announced a new “Davos manifesto,” calling on companies to “pay their fair share of taxes, show zero tolerance for corruption, uphold human rights throughout their global supply chains, and advocate for a competitive level playing field.” Such an ethos, Schwab contends, will go a long way to redressing the world’s inequities and may help governments meet the climate targets set by the 2015 Paris agreement.
“Business leaders now have an incredible opportunity,” Schwab wrote in a column published last month. “By giving stakeholder capitalism concrete meaning, they can move beyond their legal obligations and uphold their duty to society.”
Schwab’s extolling of “stakeholder” capitalism — a riposte to the profit-maximizing Western orthodoxy of “shareholder” capitalism — is supposed to be a call to action. Activists, though, may argue that it’s not enough.
In a study timed in conjunction with the World Economic Forum, Oxfam found the world’s billionaires control more wealth than 4.6 billion people, or 60 percent of humanity. “Another year, another indication that the inequality crisis is spiraling out of control. And despite repeated warnings about inequality, governments have not reversed its course,” said Paul O’Brien of Oxfam America in an emailed statement. “Some governments, especially the U.S., are actually exacerbating inequality by cutting taxes for the richest and for corporations while slashing public services and safety nets — such as health care and education — that actually fight inequality.”
And some Davos attendees concur. “The economic pie is bigger than it’s ever been before in history, which means we could make everyone better off, but we’ve chosen as a society to leave a lot of people behind,” Erik Brynjolfsson, director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy, told my colleague Heather Long. “That’s not just inexcusable morally but is also really bad tactically.”
Reading from a totally different script, President Trump is expected to wax lyrical about the success of his economic and trade policies. In the past, his bullying measures and fondness for tariffs have ruffled the Davos set.
“Although the president has been inconsistent in how he has carried out his worldview, he has made clear that he has no plans to back away from his strong-arm tactics even as they have increasingly antagonized American friends and foes alike, leaving the United States potentially more isolated on the world stage,” wrote my colleagues Anne Gearan and John Hudson.
Trump is also likely to be challenged in Davos by a growing cohort of climate activists and policymakers. On the same day of his speech, Swedish teen campaigner Greta Thunberg is expected to berate politicians and finance executives who still invest in fossil fuels. Although Trump almost certainly will not heed Thunberg’s call, representatives of major companies attending the forum are desperate to show how they are adapting their business models to accommodate climate concerns.
Two years ago, Schwab drew criticism for what was viewed as an awkwardly ingratiating speech to welcome Trump to the forum. Now, he’s more at odds with the U.S. president, not least on the urgency of the climate crisis.
“We do not want to reach the tipping point of irreversibility on climate change,” Schwab told reporters last week. “We do not want the next generations to inherit a world which becomes ever more hostile and ever less habitable.”

quarta-feira, 4 de dezembro de 2019

Irã: um possível "turning point" na teocracia autoritária dos aiatolás? - Ishaan Tharoor (WP)



terça-feira, 27 de agosto de 2019

Brasil-Bolívia: uma história de duas queimadas - Ishaan Tharoor (WP)



(Eraldo Peres/AP; David Mercado/Reuters)

The Amazon fires put spotlight on two rival leaders


(Eraldo Peres/AP; David Mercado/Reuters)
Even as fires rage in both their countries, there’s little neighborly love between the leaders of Brazil and Bolivia. International scrutiny has fallen on both countries following a summer where vast tracts of the world’s most important forest went up in flames. In Brazil, there’s been a more than 80 percent spike in the number of fires from 2018, a development that garnered international headlines when the city of Sao Paulo got cloaked in sooty smoke last week.
Similar pollution reached Bolivia’s largest city, Santa Cruz. An area roughly the size of Connecticut in Bolivia’s densely forested Chiquitania region, on the border with Brazil and Paraguay, has burned to the ground this summer, endangering hundreds of animal species. By one account, it may take Bolivia’s forests two centuries to recover.
But don’t expect either Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro or his Bolivian counterpart, President Evo Morales, to come to the other’s aid. When the former, a far-right firebrand, took office at the start of the year, the latter, a South American leftist stalwart, tweeted his disgust at “the reemergence of white supremacist (KKK) ideology” in the continent’s politics.
The feelings were mutual. At Bolsonaro’s inauguration, Morales, the only regional left-wing leader to attend, was jeered by the new president’s supporters as a “communist” and a “f---ing Indian.” In an interview with the Brazilian newspaper O Globo, a lawmaker in Bolsonaro’s political party scoffed at critics who worried about the risks facing Brazil’s indigenous communities under the new president’s watch. “If you like Indians, you should go to Bolivia,” said Rodrigo Amorim, the recently elected congressman, referring to Morales’s indigenous ethnicity. “As well as being communist, it’s governed by an Indian.”
Since coming to power in 2005, Morales has been unabashed about his origins and his desire to uplift his country’s most marginalized. He leveraged a boom in natural gas and mineral exports to redistribute the wealth and bring hundreds of thousands of Bolivians into the middle class through populist social plans that guaranteed him reelection in 2009 and 2014. Although Bolivia remains one the continent’s poorest countries, its gross domestic product per capita has tripled while Morales has been president.
But Morales’s popularity has been waning. He is seeking reelection in October for an unprecedented fourth term — a bid only possible after he controversially circumvented the results of a 2016 referendum that blocked him from scrapping constitutional term limits.
Meanwhile, Bolsonaro’s antipathy toward both indigenous minorities and leftists has been a defining streak of his politics. During his successful 2018 election campaign, he tarred his domestic opponents as would-be leftist autocrats in the vein of Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro — and, indeed, Morales. And, now in command, Bolsonaro has followed through on his campaign trail vows: a restructuring or wholesale dismantling of Brazil’s existing environmental protections for indigenous areas in the Amazon, to the benefit of the country’s powerful agribusiness industry. Not for nothing did he earn the sobriquet “Captain Chainsaw.”
Those moves provide the backdrop to the unfolding calamity in the Amazon rainforest, referred to widely as the “lungs” of the planet. Critics, including prominent politicians in Europe and elsewhere, argue that Bolsonaro has emboldened cattle ranchers and loggers to start setting fires to clear land. At the Group of Seven summit in France on Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron announced an immediate fund of $20 million to help fight the fires in the Amazon. He and other European leaders have also threatened to stall a free-trade deal between the European Union and a bloc of South American nations over Bolsonaro’s harmful policies.
This censure has not played well in Brazil. “From the start, Bolsonaro, like U.S. President Donald Trump, stacked his cabinet with science deniers who call climate change a Marxist hoax and made his open disdain for minority communities who depend on the Amazon a hallmark of his political messaging,” noted reporters for HuffPost Brazil. “Now, both leaders distract from fierce criticism and low polling at home by recasting criticism from media or other countries as unfair mudslinging from ideological opponents.”
Bolsonaro has angrily lashed out at his critics and recently warned his supporters that “Brazil is the virgin that every foreign pervert wants to get their hands on.” On Monday, his government rejected the G-7 aidon offer, saying in a statement that the funds should be used instead to reforest Europe and save the continent’s famous cathedrals like Notre Dame in Paris.
“The Bolsonaro administration is trying to produce a rally-around-the-flag effect,” said Matias Spektor, an associate professor of international relations at the Getúlio Vargas Foundation in Sao Paulo, to my colleagues. “They are trying to denounce Macron … and the international press and the NGOs as a coalition that is set on suspending Brazilian sovereignty over the Amazon and it’s our duty to fight back.”
Though they are far from kindred spirits, Morales and Bolsonaro share a similar culpability in what has unfolded this summer. The Bolivian president’s administration initially played down the scale of the fire before realizing its horrific reach after an outcry. Morales suspended his reelection campaign to help coordinate his government’s response. After his earlier reticence, he did an about-face and said he welcomes whatever aid the rest of the world can muster for Bolivia’s firefighting efforts.
But critics argue that the fires in Bolivia are also a product of policies that encouraged deforestation, including a recent decree aimed at boosting beef production for export that infuriated Bolivian civil society. Morales has a “top-down mentality about imposing development projects on the Amazon,” said Andrew Miller of conservation organization Amazon Watch on the left-wing radio show Democracy Now. “So, at the same time that Evo Morales has had some progressive policies, he’s also had tensions with indigenous peoples.”
And suddenly, Morales has something in common with his ideological foe across the border. “The two countries most affected [by the fires] have governments at opposite ends of the political spectrum, but their position on deforesting the Amazon is the same,” said Eugenio Coter, a prominent Bolivian bishop, to Catholic News Service. “There is no political or economic plan for the Amazon that does not depend on the extraction of natural resources.”