04 oktober 2016

Carl Bildt: What a Trump presidency would wreak on Europe and the Middle East

Carl Bildts senaste krönika i Washington Post, publicerad idag. 
Observers in Europe are following America’s election campaigns with disbelief, a good portion of dismay and distinctly growing apprehension.
Campaigns are, of course, campaigns, and any seasoned politician or observer of politics knows that the relationship between the words of campaign and the deeds of office isn’t always straight.
That explains the muted reactions to Hillary Clinton’s oscillations on trade policy. But it’s starting to creep in that she might have boxed herself in on the issues to such an extent that a retreat will hardly be possible.
The global economy is not in stellar shape, global trade growth is sluggish and there is a silent war over whether the West or China will set the rules for the games to come. Much will depend on whether the Obama administration will manage to get the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal ratified, but if this fails and we are confronted with either a hesitant Clinton or a Donald Trump hostile to trade agreements, things could easily start to go wrong.
But for all the questions on Clinton’s vacillations on trade, the policies of a possible Trump administration spark something bordering on outright fear.
Some American friends tend to say that the United States is a country with strong institutions, constitutional separation of powers and clear limits on what a president can actually do.
Yes, but primarily on domestic issues.
Foreign-policy issues are a different matter. A stalwart Republican friend of mine, with vast experience on foreign policy and security issues, said, “I know the power of the Oval Office, and that man must never ever be allowed in there.” Whoever sits in the Oval Office is the commander in chief of the world’s mightiest military arsenal and can single-handedly take the country’s foreign policy in very different directions.
It’s fair to say that my friend’s feelings are widely shared across the world. Well, at least throughout the democratic West.
Some are starting, with reluctance, to consider what a Trump administration might actually mean. If disaster strikes, what are we supposed to expect on Jan. 20?
Trump’s trade policies are certainly scary, but apprehensions concerning these pale in comparison to the potential geopolitical consequences of him entering the Oval Office.
Trump has evidently already looked into the soul of Vladimir Putin and concluded that he is a strong leader and a good man, and that anyhow all this talk about democracy and respecting rules isn’t anything for real men of their caliber.
A good guess is that as president, he will try to achieve some super-Yalta deal with the Kremlin, saying that “Make Russia Great Again” is an honorable goal, concluding that might is better than right and agreeing that the quarreling Europeans in Brussels, or wherever, need not be taken too much into account.
Whatever the content of such an approach, Trump risks creating a new instability in Europe. And with the United Kingdom going into a frenzy on what to do after the Brexit vote, we are already in a somewhat fragile situation. Without a common framework, the risk is that different countries will go in different directions, leaving an opportunity for the Kremlin to seize, make its moves and destabilize Europe even more.
What will happen then is anyone’s guess. Trump in the Oval Office might swing from appeasement to aggressiveness in seconds, or he might just walk away from it all, leaving the Kremlin to start to pick up pieces here and there. Either way, it would be very dangerous.
And then there is, of course, the Middle East.
Here the risk is obvious: Trump will provide a powerful boost to a Daesh that at the moment is starting to come under pressure — from its own failings more than from the efforts of others. But moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would move sentiments among disenchanted Arab youth in the direction of militancy in a way hardly any other step could.
Few strategic mistakes would be as profoundly grave as stoking a war between Islam and the West. But Trump’s own words indicates that this is what he, by design or by default, would actually do. While Trump can try building his walls around the United States, Europe is in a different situation. Beyond geographic proximity to the Middle East, Islam forms a part of our societies; any profound confrontation along these lines risks having profound effects across large parts of Europe.
The uncomfortable fact is that in the Middle East, a gradual but determined effort to overcome divisions, heal wounds, reform economies and build functioning and legitimate states throughout the region is the only possible way forward to avoid a combined Daesh/al-Qaeda 2.0 challenging us a decade from now.
A Trump presidency risks smashing any such strategy into smithereens.
No responsible European politician is coming out in public taking sides in the United States’ political affairs. That’s the way it should be between nations — we respect each other’s democratic choices. But in the chancelleries of the democracies of Europe, there is no doubt whatsoever what they fear.
Europe is already confronted with the revisionism in the East and the implosions and explosions in the South — but now there is a lingering feeling that the most dangerous developments could actually come from the West.

29 september 2016

Jan Helin bär Aftonbladets hatt på Sveriges Television

Det stormar på Aktuellts redaktion på Sveriges Television. Bakgrunden är i korthet att redaktionen kritiserats mycket hårt efter att man i förra veckan valde att sända en debatt i studion, där en företrädare för tidningen Nya Tider deltog. Tidningen anses vara både pronazistisk och sprida antisemitiska uppfattningar. Förra veckans debatt sändes efter bråket om Nya Tiders medverkan på Bokmässan i Göteborg.

Igår kväll möttes programdirektören, Jan Helin och SVTs Jan Josefsson i studion. Den nya debatten sändes efter att Helin i en kulturartikel i Dagens Nyheter ansett att de som kritiserat Aktuellt för att man släppte fram Nya Tiders företrädare haft rätt i sin kritik. Till hans ställningstagande fogades följande mening:

”Det är ett flagrant exempel på när journalistiken abdikerar från sin roll som sanningssökare, gömmer sig bakom en tunn fernissa av opartiskhet och via en skur av obelagda påståenden i debatten mot sin goda vilja förs in i osaklighetens svarta hål."

I samband med ett redaktionsmöte på Aktuellt i måndags ska Jan Helin ha framfört samma uppfattning. Men i Aktuellts studio igår kväll påstod Helin att han aldrig sagt något sådant.

Först pudlar program direktören i Dagens Nyheter och ger kritikerna rätt. Därefter pudlar han en gång till i Aktuellt och förnekar att han på redaktionsmötet sagt att personer likt företrädare för Nya Tider inte ska ges utrymme i Aktuellt.

Jan Helin avslutar sin artikel i Dagens Nyheter på följande sätt och resonerar kring hur Aktuellt istället borde ha agerat:
”Vi borde därför ha belyst Nya Tider som publikation, granskat vilka intressen som ligger bakom den och kopplingarna till antidemokratiska, extremistiska rörelser. En sådan research hade utgjort ett utmärkt faktaunderlag för en saklig intervju med Vávra Suk. Vi hade på så sätt låtit tittaren skapa sig en uppfattning om det var rätt eller fel av Bokmässan att ge dem en plattform.”
Men med sin DN-artikel och resonemangen i Aktuelltstudion har programdirektören vid Sveriges Television enbart skapat problem. Han har först och främst placerat redaktionens integritet på ett sluttande plan, som riskerar leda till framtida räddhågsenhet. Sedan bör han noga akta sig för att i en kulturartikel i Dagens Nyheter kritisera en redaktion som han på pappret är näst högsta hönset för. Sådant sköter man internt. Och vad hans tilltag får för konsekvenser för redaktionens framtida resonemang kring redaktionell integritet, yttrandefrihet, opartiskhet och saklighet vet vi än så länge ingenting om.
Det är nu tyvärr tydligt att Jan Helin agerat med sin gamla hatt som chefredaktör på Aftonbladet på huvudet. Där kunde han styra och ställa som han ville med skilda publiceringar, inklusive efter diverse politiska överväganden.
Men det kan han inte göra som programdirektör på Sveriges Television, för där gäller helt andra lagar och regler för programverksamheten. Programdirektören måste således skaffa sig en ny hatt som passar för det nya jobbet.

Dessutom har Jan Helin påtagit sig rollen som en sorts grindvakt och censor för vad människor ska tillåtas se eller inte se i nyhets-tv. Och då blir det särskilt allvarligt, därför att programreglerna och sändningstillståndet räcker betydligt längre än Jan Helins nosande näsa för vad som för dagen är politiskt gångbart.
Det hade varit betydligt bättre om Helin hade ställt sig bakom och försvarat redaktionens beslut om publicering. Helt enkelt därför att när solen går upp spricker trollen. Och tidningen Nya Tider och dess företrädare tillhör trollen.

12 augusti 2016

Will Donald Trump Release His Tax Returns?

Den senaste tv-spoten från Clintons kampanj om Trumps hittills uteblivna redovisning av sina skatter.  

05 augusti 2016

Why we need a President Clinton

By Anne Applebaum, Washington Post

Vladimir Putin is not a Bond villain, the Kremlin is not Spectre and, in the real world, we don’t need Daniel Craig to push back against Russia’s hybrid foreign policy. But we do need to elect Hillary Clinton for president. If we don’t, as we learned in recent days, we’ll be led by a man who appears bent on destroying the alliances that preserve international peace and American power, a man who cheerfully approves of hostile foreign intervention in a U.S. election campaign. And please remember: If that’s how he feels about Russia, there’s no guarantee that he’ll feel any different about China or Iran.

We also need a President Clinton to distance herself from the current administration, at least in this sense: President Obama has consistently refused to take seriously Russia’s hybrid foreign policy, a strategy that mixes normal diplomacy, military force, economic corruption and a high-tech information war.

This hybrid strategy needs a complex response. The reinforcement of NATO that began a few years ago was an important change but is insufficient: A further empowered alliance will help deter a devastating military conflict in Europe. At the same time, a crackdown on corrupt oligarchs, not just from Russia but also from around the world, could help stem the flows of illicit money that distort the politics of many developing countries and, increasingly, the United States and Europe, too.

The information war matters as well, particularly because the tactics are unfamiliar, at least to us: Americans aren’t used to the idea that foreign governments might use hacked emails for the purpose of distorting their politics. In fact, the Russian government has been playing similar games for years. Back in 2007, Russian hackers launched a major attack on Estonian government and commercial websites — including banks, the defense ministry, the parliament — in apparent revenge for a decision to move a Soviet war memorial. In 2014, hackers attacked Ukraine’s national election commission, three days before people went to the polls, in an attempt to disrupt the vote. In a report to be published next week,the Center for European Policy Analysis (where I am a senior adjunct fellow) documents Russian disinformation tactics in Europe, ranging from far-right websites in Poland to assistance for an anti-European Union referendum campaign in the Netherlands.

Russia has been experimenting in U.S. cyberspace, too. In 2014, police in St. Mary Parish, La., woke up to reports of a disastrous accident that turned out to have been faked. Hundreds of Twitter messages and even a fake YouTube video had been designed to create a panic and convince people that the Islamic State had blown up a chemical factory. Months later, the New York Times Magazine traced the perpetrators to St. Petersburg: Apparently, Russian trolls were trying to learn what works.

It’s not hard to imagine how these kinds of tactics could be used in the case of a real disaster — or in combination with military power — to increase panic and create false rumors. It’s also not that hard to imagine how the skillful production of fake information can be used in a fraught and highly emotional election. I confess, I thought the U.S. media ecosystem was too big to feel any impact from ill-intentioned outsiders, that this was mainly a problem in Europe. After this week, I’m not so sure.

It’s difficult for democracies to counter the rise in fake news. Our next president won’t control the media, and we wouldn’t want her to. But she can direct more resources into tracking disinformation and understanding how it works. She can invest in cutting-edge media literacy campaigns (an ugly term, but there isn’t a better one) both at home and abroad, and try to understand why fact-checking sometimes works and often doesn’t. She can inspire the development of a more secure Internet, even follow the lead of Estonia, which, after attacks on its cyberspace, created an electronic identity card that makes it much safer for Estonians to operate online.

Most of all, she can also place the growing influence of authoritarian states closer to the center of U.S. concerns. This isn’t about “regime change”: Western democracies are now playing defense, not offense, against dictatorships that openly seek to undermine them. I don’t think President Obama has ever understood this dynamic, but President Clinton might.

And if there isn’t a President Clinton? Then all of this is moot: There won’t be a pushback against the world’s authoritarians. In Donald Trump’s White House, they’ll be welcomed — and will feel right at home.


Länk till Anne Applebaums kolumner i Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/people/anne-applebaum

Länk till hennes webbplats: http://www.anneapplebaum.com

06 juni 2016

Politiskt korrekta SVT vågar inte visa filmen

Skriver idag på Aftonbladets debattsida:

I morgon kväll har dokumentärfilmen ”Watching the Moon at Night” svensk biopremiär i Göteborg. Filmen, som bär sin titel efter en dikt av nobelpristagaren Wislawa Szymborska, har medfinansierats av Sveriges Television. Men SVT vägrar att visa filmen och har brutit kontraktet med de båda filmarna, Joanna Helander och Bo Persson.

Det hela är egentligen obegripligt. Men i den politiska korrekthetens Sverige får man tydligen inte koppla samman antisemitism, jihadism och terrorism så som filmen gör. Där berättar anhöriga till terrorismens offer, från Bali över Nordafrika och Europa till 11 september i New York.

Det handlar om föräldrarna till en 22-årig svenska som dog i en attack på Bali. En israelisk OS-fäktare som överlevde München 1972. En kvinna i New York som överlevde World Trade Center 2001. Pappan vars bror och son som mördades på Nordirland. En algerisk kvinna vars familj slaktades. Eller sonen till en man som dog då Gaddafi såg till att spränga ett franskt passagerarplan över den afrikanska öknen. Efterbörden till massmordet på norska Utöya finns också med.

Det som för Sveriges Television tycks vara så besvärande och politiskt inkorrekt att visa är kopplingen mellan antisemitism och terrorism, samtidigt som de flesta vet att just antisemitism ligger bakom åtskilligt av världens terror och jihadism.
Den globala antisemitismen uppstod inte i och med Förintelsen. Eller försvann därefter. Martin Luthers manifesterade judehat plågar än i dag den protestantiska kristenheten. Vi kan oftast se vilka terroristerna är, men vi vet mindre om vilka som skriver deras manuskript. Filmens skildring går bortom terrorismens stereotyper och schabloner. I stället för att peka ut terroristerna pekar man i riktning mot terrorismens ”faddrar” som till exempel Iran, Pakistan och Ryssland. Man pekar också på många av de retoriska likheter som finns från Förintelsen och till terrorismen i vår tid.

Men när sådana perspektiv friläggs och visas upp har Sveriges Television stoppat sina chefshuvuden lika djupt i sanden som där man begravt den viktiga filmen. Från SVT hette det bland annat att om filmen ska visas, måste man också visa en ”motfilm”.

När regissören och författaren Marianne Ahrne var långfilmskonsulent på Svenska Filminstitutet fick hon slåss mot sin chefs väderkvarnar för att filmen skulle få produktionsstöd. Han försökte stoppa filmen med allehanda teknokratiska lögner och tjyvtricks, men Ahrne trumfade trots det igenom produktionsstödet.

Det är lätt att ana konflikten i Mellanöstern och frågan om Palestina bakom den hissade pestflaggan. Det hjälper tydligen inte att den polske journalisten Konstanty Gebert i filmen säger att ”Den palestinska saken är legitim. Det är den. Men samhället som producerar terrorism bör inte ge terroristerna legitimitet”. Att terrorstämplade Hamas i Gaza och dess proselyter på Västbanken kräver ett Palestina från Medelhavet till Jordanfloden glöms gärna bort i den svenska debatten.

Den tyskfödde historikern Walter Laqueur, som 1938 flydde undan nazismen, säger i ett av filmens avsnitt att ”Terrorismen är lika gammal som mänskligheten”. Filmen visar också att terror som begrepp myntades redan under franska revolutionen. Samtidigt menar filmen att antisemitism dök upp i Mellanöstern först på 1800-talet, alltså långt efter Luthers hatskrift från 1543. Han kom ändå att bli antisemitismens kyrkofader.

”Watching the Moon at Night” stoppas av SVT, trots att den visats i Sveriges riksdag och på en lång rad internationella filmfestivaler. Och trots att förre FN-diplomaten och tidigare ordföranden i fredsforskningsinstitutet Sipri, Rolf Ekéus, sagt att ”Det är en fantastisk film. Den borde visas i FN och varhelst det är möjligt att visa den”.

Den amerikanske författaren och kolumnisten Alan Dershovitz anser att ”Det är en kraftfull och övertygande film som vägrar att gömma sig bakom politisk korrekthet. Den tvingar till uppmärksamhet på en ökande fara”.

För Sveriges Television återstår bara att visa filmen. Allt annat är ren ynkedom.

Kommentera gärna här (moderering före publicering), eller på Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/anders.carlgren/posts/1411972302162885?notif_t=like&notif_id=1465206980977349

04 juni 2016

BBC: Understanding media addiction to Donald Trump

By Nick Bryant, BBC New York.
Co-dependency is commonly defined as "an emotional and behavioural condition that affects an individual's ability to have a healthy, mutually satisfying relationship". Another term for it is "relationship addiction". People form and persist with relationships "that are one-sided, emotionally destructive and/or abusive".
Sitting in the atrium of Trump Tower on Tuesday, as Donald Trump harangued the press - well, you know where I'm going. For all the abuse, for all the belittlement, we as reporters show no sign of ending our relationship addiction with Donald Trump.
Much of our cravenness is easily explained. It stems from the record-breaking television ratings that Trump has generated and, just as important these days, millions of online hits.
A human headline, he more than satisfies the viral requirements of our new media age. At a time when media organisations are struggling still to monetise online news content, and to make the painful shift from print to digital, along comes the ultimate clickbait candidate, a layer of golden eggs.
Understandably, hard-pressed news executives are echoing the words reportedly uttered by Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, Robby Mook, at her Brooklyn headquarters: "I've got to get me some Trump."
It has meant that the default setting for cable news channels here is a split screen showing an empty Trump lectern on one side with pundits on the other, bloviating endlessly as they await the billionaire's arrival.
Entertainment value
As for a Trump news conference, it is rather like broadcasting one of those freeway police chases filmed from a helicopter: car crash television that you want to stay with until the end - though perhaps the more accurate analogy is of security camera footage that captures a street fighter who has no qualms about reaching for the broken bottle. It is unedifying, gruesome even, but also utterly compelling.
It explains why none of the news channels cut away from the Trump news conference yesterday, even as it degenerated into a one-way slanging match. Or why none of the reporters present, myself included, simply got up and walked out.
Yet the media's Trump relationship addiction is not explained by commercial imperatives alone.
Political reporters have a tendency of writing a campaign narrative that comports with the race they ideally want to cover. It's not an invented narrative, as such - we can't simply make up storylines. But I would suggest it's a slanted narrative, which, rather than betraying a liberal bias, reveals a "great story" bias.
In a reworking of the old newsroom adage "if it bleeds, it leads", candidates tend to be assessed on the basis of their journalistic entertainment value.
My sense, while covering the 2000 campaign for instance, was that reporters handicapped the race in favour of George W. Bush because the possibility of a son following his father into the White House, with all the oedipal complexity that went with it, was a better story than seeing Al Gore become president.
That would have felt like a Clinton third term, absent its charismatic leading man.
This tendency was even more pronounced in 2008, during the Democratic primary campaign, when journalists were more excited by the prospect of the first African-American president than the first female president, Hillary Clinton. Everyone wanted to compose their own first draft of that dramatic historical moment.
Trump is also a beneficiary of great story bias. Never before has there been a candidate with such journalistic entertainment value.
His unexpected emergence meant that we ditched our initial narrative of Campaign 2016, which we had set up a dynastic showdown between a Bush and a Clinton, in favour of a better storyline.
Willing enablers
The media didn't create Donald Trump, the basis of the ever more fashionable "Frankenstein's monster" critique of the press. But we have been more willing enablers than we would care to admit.
So while there has been no shortage of critical coverage of Donald Trump, there has been a reluctance to go for his jugular.
This tendency is most noticeable in broadcast interviews. Jake Tapper's interview with Donald Trump, in which the billionaire failed to disavow support from white supremacists and said he needed to do more research on the Ku Klux Klan before condemning it, offered a case in point.
Tapper, who has done some excellent interviews during this campaign, was tough and probing but did not go in for the kill. An obvious follow-up question would have been "do you really need to do more research on the KKK to condemn it" but he did not ask it.
As for the interview between Megyn Kelly and Donald Trump, it provides the textbook case study of campaign co-dependency.
Kelly rocked Trump in a televised debate last year, with a brilliant and legitimate line of questioning about his misogyny. But when she sat down with him at Trump Tower for a prime time special, and talked about his hate-Tweeting, she described how she imagined him doing it wearing "a crushed velvet smoking jacket, chaise lounge, slippers".
Mainstream media's weakness
Jon Sopel, my colleague and compatriot, wrote a terrific blog on the Trump press conference, observing: "The remarkable thing that has struck me as a British correspondent living in Washington, and who is used to a robust relationship between journalist and politician, is how Trump has been treated with kid gloves."
I could not agree more. The preference in American broadcast journalism is to end interviews on amicable terms. There is not the adversarial tradition of British interviewing, nor a US equivalent of John Humphrys or Jeremy Paxman.
What's also striking is that we as journalists do not have the power of old. Trump and other candidates have used Twitter especially, not only to bypass the media but also to become part of the new media themselves.
The billionaire's Twitter account has more followers - 8.5 million - than the Washington Post, ABC News, NBC News, the Huffington Post or Buzzfeed. He has become a self-publisher, and provided an unfiltered commentary of his own. Trump's strength is a measure of the mainstream media's weakness.
That imbalance was evident at the news conference in Trump Tower. He possessed the only microphone. He could drown out every reporter. He controlled who asked the questions, and probably half of the journalists present did not get the chance to do so.
Ever the shrewd media operator, he also knew that the cable news channels would stay with it until the end.
For another illustration of our comparative powerlessness, just witness the number of stories that have been written about Trump, which in an ordinary election cycle would have been disqualifying - his misogyny, his racism, his incitement of supporters to punch protesters in the face, his cussing, his refusal to release his tax returns, his constant flip-flopping on policy, Trump University, etc, etc.
Much has been written about how Trump defies the usual laws of political gravity, but one of the reasons is that modern-day media organisations lack orbital pull.
The Trump obsession has affected our coverage in subtler ways, too.
Had it not been for our fixation with the Republican contest, we would have paid more attention to Bernie Sanders' extraordinary success. Yet we've downplayed that storyline.
This is partly for valid analytical reasons. Early on, it became clear that Hillary Clinton was winning the all-important "black vote" - this race has proven again that it is all but impossible to win the Democratic nomination without it - and had the support of so many super-delegates that her lead became insurmountable.
But I wonder whether another explanation for short-changing Sanders goes to how Trump has impacted our professional pride. We can cope with being proven spectacularly wrong in one race, the Republican contest, but not two.
Absent Trump, journalists would have felt the Bern far more strongly, because it would have been the best storyline on offer. Again, it demonstrates how we as journalists tend to talk up certain narratives and talk down others, of how we are prone to great story bias.
Confessedly, I hated being at that Trump news conference, most of which I spent with my arm thrust skyward trying unsuccessfully to ask a question. But I also admit to being enthralled by the most extraordinary election campaign I have ever covered.
Like every other journalist, I dare say I'll be back the next time he summons us to Trump Tower. Perhaps, if he continues to be so personally abusive, journalists should stage a walkout. That said, I suspect we'll remain planted in our seats, sufferers of co-dependency, fellow Trump relationship addicts.

10 april 2016

The Race to Run the United Nations

For the past 70 years, each time the post of secretary general of the United Nations has been open, those interested in the job lobbied and cajoled the five permanent members of the Security Council behind closed doors. The Council chose the finalist, whose name was then presented to the General Assembly as a done deal. This obscure process for selecting one of the world’s most important leaders has gone unchallenged for decades.

Not anymore. The race to replace Ban Ki-moon, who will step down at the end of the year, fortunately, will be different. At the insistence of small nations that traditionally had no say in the matter, the United Nations has asked that governments that wish to nominate a candidate for the job do so openly. Next week, diplomats from the United Nations’ 193 states will have an opportunity to meet and question the four women and four men who are vying for the job.

Among the candidates are five United Nations veterans, including Helen Clark of New Zealand, a former prime minister, who has led the United Nations Development Program since 2009, and Irina Bokova of Bulgaria, the head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Also in the race are António Manuel Oliveira Guterres of Portugal, who served for a decade as the United Nations high commissioner for refugees, through last year; Danilo Turk, a former assistant secretary general who served as president of Slovenia from 2007 to 2012; and Srgjan Kerim of Macedonia, who served as foreign minister and ambassador to the United Nations.

The other contenders are Vesna Pusic, the foreign minister of Croatia; Natalia Gherman, a senior diplomat from Moldova; and Igor Luksic, the foreign minister of Montenegro.

Most candidates are Eastern European because that region is widely assumed to be the next in line to have a representative at the top of the United Nations. The Security Council is also under pressure to give serious consideration to female candidates, since no woman has run the United Nations. The Council will start vetting the candidates in July and will pick one later in the year.

The next secretary general will face a series of challenges that will require deft leadership and tenacity. The United Nations needs to play a central role in ending wars in Syria, Libya, Yemen and elsewhere, even as it struggles to provide resources and aid to millions of refugees who have fled Syria and other countries roiled by war.

The new leader will also inherit internal problems. The United Nations was slow to acknowledge and respond to allegations of widespread sex abuse by peacekeepers in Africa, a situation that could destroy its reputation and credibility in areas already struggling with the ravages of war and famine. The World Health Organization, which came under criticism for its inadequate response to the Ebola crisis in 2014, will also require sustained attention.

Those vying for the job will need to clearly outline their priorities and vision for a job that becomes ever more daunting in a conflict-ridden world.

05 april 2016

Kim Philby, British double agent, reveals all in secret video

A previously unseen video of one of Britain's most infamous spies describing his career as a Soviet agent has been uncovered by the BBC.
The tape is of Kim Philby giving a secret lecture to the Stasi, the East German Intelligence Service, in 1981. It is the first time the ex-MI6 officer can be seen talking about his life as a spy from his recruitment to his escape. He describes his career rising up the ranks of MI6 whilst providing its secrets to the Soviet Union's KGB. He ends with advice to the East German spies.

"Dear Comrades." With those two words spoken in an impeccable upper-class English accent, one of Britain's most famous spies and its greatest traitor begins a masterclass in betrayal to a select audience of East German spies.
Philby's hour-long address was preserved on video tape and never seen in public until now.
The BBC unearthed it in the official archives of the Stasi in Berlin.
It was never made for public consumption (and the grainy video and poorly synchronised sound shows the limits of technology at the time), but that means the former MI6 officer is open about his career in a way never heard before.

Enemy camp

After an introduction from East German spymaster Markus Wolf, who was so elusive to western spy agencies that he was known for many years as "the man without a face", Philby makes his way to the lectern to a hero's welcome.
"I must warn you that I am no public speaker," Philby says. "I've spent most of my life trying to avoid publicity of any kind."
That much is true. Previously the best known video of Philby was him giving a 1955 press conference in his mother's London flat. On that occasion he said very little, only denying he was a communist. In this newly discovered video, for the first time, we hear Philby himself boast about what he calls his "30 years in the enemy camp".

He describes himself as born into "the ruling class of the British Empire" and explains how he first was drawn towards communism at Cambridge. He details his recruitment by the Soviet intelligence service, later known as the KGB, after he returned from working with activists in Austria.
The most surprising thing about his recruitment, he says, was that it happened at all since he had no real job or prospects at that moment.
"It was essentially a long range project. No immediate results were expected or could have been expected." He says his Soviet contact did express his ambitions for his recruit. It was made perfectly clear to me that the best target in the eyes of the Centre in Moscow would be the British Secret Service."
Philby details how he spent years trying to work his way in - turning to journalism, working for The Times newspaper, covering the Spanish Civil War, building up contacts in the establishment and then as war came dropping hints about his desire to work for government.
At last, he was interviewed and accepted in to the inner sanctum of the British state - the Secret Intelligence Service - SIS (or as it is popularly known MI6).
In one of the most remarkable sections of the talk, Philby then reveals just how easy it was to steal secrets from Britain's secret service. He says that he simply made friends with the archivist who managed the files by going out two or three times a week for a drink with him.
This allowed Philby to get hold of files which had nothing to do with his own job.
"If there had been proper discipline in the handling of papers in SIS that would have been quite impossible. But there was, in fact, no discipline."
Philby goes on to explain what he did with all the documents.
"Every evening I left the office with a big briefcase full of reports that I had written myself, full of files and actual documents from the archive."
"I used to hand them to my Soviet contact in the evening."
"The next morning I would get the files back, the contents having been photographed and early the next morning I would put them back in their place. That I did regularly year in year out."

Very dirty story

Philby, a Soviet agent, is then appointed number two in a new MI6 section, devoted to countering Soviet espionage. His KGB handler next instructs him to get the top job by removing his boss, Felix Cowgill.
"I said 'Are you proposing to shoot him or something?'" Philby recalls asking.
Instead his instructions were to use bureaucratic intrigue.
"So I set about the business of removing my own chief. You oughtn't to listen to this," he tells the audience of secret service officers to considerable laughter.
He succeeded.
"It was a very dirty story - but after all our work does imply getting dirty hands from time to time but we do it for a cause that is not dirty in any way," Philby explains.

"I have to admit that was the most blatant intrigue against a man I rather liked and I admired but the instructions stood and nothing I could do would alter them."
There is one episode which is usually cited to illustrate the human cost of Philby's treachery.
When he was posted to Washington DC as MI6's liaison with the CIA and FBI, he betrayed an operation to secretly send thousands of Albanians back into their country to overthrow the communist regime. Many were killed. In his lecture, Philby tries to turn it to his credit - even claiming he helped prevent World War Three.
He claims that if he had not compromised the operation and it had succeeded, the CIA and MI6 would have tried it again in countries like Bulgaria. He says the Soviet Union would then have become involved, leading to an all-out war.

Escape from Beirut

While he was in Washington, two fellow Cambridge spies, Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean, fled to Moscow, leading to suspicions about Philby and his interrogation. He says there were two reasons why he got away with his espionage for so long.
The first was the British class system, which could not accept one of their own was a traitor. The second was the fact that so many in MI6 had so much to lose if he was proven to be a spy.
Philby did officially leave MI6 but remarkably was soon taken back. He became an agent based in Beirut under cover of being a newspaper journalist. This allowed him to resume his spying.
Philby ends the formal section of his talk with an account of his escape from Beirut which he uses to mock MI6. In 1963, an MI6 colleague came to confront him with new evidence pointing to his work for the Soviets. Philby bluffed and stalled. Another MI6 officer was then left to watch over him.
But that man was an avid skier. Philby says that news came in of a fresh snowfall and the officer could not resist heading off to the Lebanese mountains to make the most of it. At that point, Philby got the signal from the KGB for his departure and was able to slip away.
Philby then sits down and takes questions from the East German spies. A fascinating first answer explains how he first acquired his communist beliefs and was then able to hold on to them despite living in the West.
He praises his Soviet handler and advises his audience that they need to take care of the political as well as physical health of any agents they run. Philby finishes with one piece of advice to the spies gathered before him that had served him well: never confess.
"If they confront you with a document with your own handwriting then it's a forgery - just deny everything… They interrogated me to break my nerve and force me to confess."
"And all I had to do really was keep my nerve. So my advice to you is to tell all your agents that they are never to confess."
This video, designed to be secret, is a chance to see Philby giving his own account of his life as a spy.
The tone is one of total self-confidence.
Philby died in Moscow in 1988 just before the collapse of the Communist ideal which he had spent his life serving.

06 mars 2016

Anne Applebaum: Is this the end of the West as we know it?

Back in the 1950s, when the institutions were still new and shaky, I’m sure many people feared the Western alliance might never take off. Perhaps in the 1970s, the era of the Red Brigades and Vietnam, many more feared that the West would not survive. But in my adult life, I cannot remember a moment as dramatic as this: Right now, we are two or three bad elections away from the end of NATO, the end of the European Union and maybe the end of the liberal world order as we know it.
In the United States, we are faced with the real possibility of Republican Party presidential nominee Donald Trump, which means we have to take seriously the possibility of a President Trump. Hillary Clinton’s campaign might implode for any number of reasons, too obvious to rehash here; elections are funny things, and electorates are fickle. That means that next January we could have, in the White House, a man who is totally uninterested in what presidents Obama, Bush, Clinton, Reagan — as well as Johnson, Nixon and Truman — would all have called “our shared values.”
Trump has advocated torture, mass deportation, religious discrimination. He brags that he “would not care that much” whether Ukraine were admitted to NATO; he has no interest in NATO and its security guarantees. Of Europe, he has written that “their conflicts are not worth American lives. Pulling back from Europe would save this country millions of dollars annually.” In any case, he prefers the company of dictators to that of other democrats. “You can make deals with those people,” he said of Russia. “I would have a great relationship with [Vladimir] Putin.”
Not only is Trump uninterested in America’s alliances, he would be incapable of sustaining them. In practice, both military and economic unions require not the skills of a shady property magnate who “makes deals” but boring negotiations, unsatisfying compromises and, sometimes, the sacrifice of one’s own national preferences for the greater good. In an era when foreign policy debate has in most Western countries disappeared altogether, replaced by the reality TV of political entertainment, all of these things are much harder to explain and justify to a public that isn’t remotely interested.
And Americans aren’t the only ones who find their alliances burdensome. A year from now, France also holds a presidential election. One of the front-runners, Marine Le Pen of the National Front, has promised to leave both NATO and the E.U. , to nationalize French companies and to restrict foreign investors. Like Trump, she foresees a special relationship with Russia, whose banks are funding her election campaign. French friends assure me that if she makes it to the final round, the center-left and center-right will band together, as they did two decades ago against her father. But elections are funny things, and electorates are fickle. What if Le Pen’s opponent suddenly falls victim to a scandal? What if another Islamic State attack jolts Paris?

By the time that happens, Britain may also be halfway out the door. In June, the British vote in a referendum to leave the E.U. Right now, the vote is too close to call — and if the “leave” vote prevails, then, as I’ve written, all bets are off. Copycat referendums may follow in other E.U. countries too. Viktor Orban, the Hungarian prime minister, sometimes speaks of leaving the West in favor of a strategic alliance with Istanbul or Moscow.

It’s not hard at all to imagine a Britain unmoored from Europe drifting away from the transatlantic alliance as well. If the economic turmoil that could follow a British exit from the E.U. were sufficiently severe, perhaps the British public would vote out its conservative government in favor of the Labour Party, whose leadership is now radically anti-American. Everyone discountsJeremy Corbyn , the far-left Labour leader, but they also discounted Trump. Corbyn is the only viable alternative if the public wants a change. Elections are funny things, and electorates are fickle.
And then? Without France, Europe’s single market will cease to exist. Without Britain, it’s hard to see how NATO lasts long either. Not everyone will be sorry. As Trump’s appealing rhetoric makes clear, the costs of alliances (“millions of dollars annually”) are easier to see than the longer-term gains.
Western unity, nuclear deterrence and standing armies gave us more than a half century of political stability. Shared economic space helped bring prosperity and freedom to Europe and North America alike. But these are things that we all take for granted, until they are gone.
Anne Applebaum är amerikansk-polsk journalist, författare och kolumnist i Washington Post. Hon är gift med Polens förre utrikesminister Radoslaw Sikorski.  www.anneapplebaum.com