Editorial New York Times

After the Airstrikes on Syria, What’s Next? Editorial NYT

Editorial, 8 abril 2017 / THE NEW YORK TIMES

It was hard not to feel some sense of emotional satisfaction, and justice done, when American cruise missiles struck an airfield in Syria on Thursday. The country’s president, Bashar al-Assad, needed to understand that there would finally be a cost for his brutality, in this case the use of chemical weapons with sarin, a banned nerve agent, that killed scores of civilians earlier this week in one of the worst atrocities of the Syrian civil war.

But it is also hard not to feel unsettled by the many questions raised by President Trump’s decision. Among them: Was it legal? Was it an impetuous, isolated response unrelated to a larger strategy for resolving the complex dilemma of Syria, a nation tormented not just by civil war but also by the fight against the Islamic State? So far, there is no evidence that Mr. Trump has thought through the implications of using military force or figured out what to do next.

For a man who had campaigned on an “America First” platform of avoiding entanglements in overseas conflicts and who repeatedly warned his predecessor, Barack Obama, against military action in Syria, Mr. Trump made a breathtaking turnaround in the space of 63 hours after the chemical attack. He has long argued that the top priority was fighting the Islamic State, not forcing Mr. Assad from power; indeed, as recently as last week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the United Nations ambassador, Nikki Haley, had reinforced the perception that Mr. Trump was perfectly willing to live with Mr. Assad.

Mr. Trump explained the shift by saying that he had been so deeply moved by television footage of child victims gasping for breath that “my attitude toward Syria and Assad has changed very much.” However sincere this sentiment, the spectacle of a president precipitously reversing course on war and peace on the basis of emotion or what his defenders describe as “instinct” does not inspire confidence.

One also has to wonder why he was not similarly moved by the 400,000 Syrians who have died since the war broke out in 2011, or by the thousands of Syrian refugees he has barred from the United States.

So what did the 59 missiles accomplish? Militarily, this was a measured response that severely damaged Syrian aircraft and infrastructure at Al Shayrat airfield. Tactically, it may help persuade Mr. Assad (and other problematic leaders, like those in North Korea) that using weapons of mass destruction will not go unpunished. But Mr. Assad still has his chemical weapons, and the civil war endures.

The airstrikes allowed Mr. Trump, whose presidency has so far been defined mainly by its stumbles, to separate himself from Mr. Obama, who threatened military action in the event of a chemical attack but who, after such an attack, chose a smarter course, a deal in which Russia guaranteed the removal of Syria’s chemical weapons. It is not clear whether the Kremlin failed to follow through or simply allowed Mr. Assad to retain his lethal capability. In any case, Russia deserves condemnation, as does Iran, which is also enabling Mr. Assad with military and other support.

Whether by design or not, the American military action has also shifted the focus from the scandal over Russia’s interference in the election on Mr. Trump’s behalf and allegations that the president and his allies may have colluded with Moscow. At the same time, it has made it harder for Mr. Trump to meet his goal of improving ties with Russia. Hoping to avoid a military confrontation, Washington alerted the Russians in advance of the airstrikes. Even so, President Vladimir Putin’s office called the strikes a “significant blow” to Russian-American relations, suspended an agreement meant to prevent accidental clashes and threatened to reinforce Syrian air defenses.

On the plus side, the airstrikes have given Mr. Trump a lift in Sunni states in the Persian Gulf, which chafed at Mr. Obama’s refusal to take direct military action against Mr. Assad. European allies and members of Congress also endorsed his decision. But the action lacked authorization from Congress and the United Nations Security Council, raising questions about its legality and spotlighting a rich irony. In 2013, Mr. Trump argued that Mr. Obama must get congressional approval before attacking Syria. Congress, with a long history of ducking its war-making responsibility, refused to give it.

Studies show that one-off military strikes achieve little. Whether this one has given Mr. Trump any leverage with which to press Russia for a diplomatic solution may become clearer when Mr. Tillerson visits Moscow next week. But the greater need is for a comprehensive strategy and congressional authorization for any further military action. There are risks the president simply cannot take on his own.

La tentación siria de Trump

Intrascendente gesto militar de Trump

Jugando con fuego en Siria

Trump’s airstrike: a convenient U-turn from a president who can’t be trusted

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Can President Trump Be Presidential? Editorial/THE NEW YORK TIMES

NEW YORK TIMESEditorial, 20 enero 2017 / THE NEW YORK TIMES

A special strength of American democracy has been the desire of newly elected presidents to unite the public with healing words after the sound and fury of the campaign.

Now comes President-elect Donald Trump. He has won the office and yet has continued his vindictive, disruptive style of politicking. He has run a post-campaign that has corroded the traditional grace period of considerate political transition that the nation needs. The hope of citizens for a better future, for a sense of uplift, has wound up hostage to his impetuous Twitter attacks on individuals, institutions and nations.

Fellow Republicans like Senator John McCain openly wonder whether Mr. Trump’s chief obsession is to “engage with every windmill that he can find,” rather than to focus on “the most important position on earth.”

This is the question haunting Mr. Trump’s inauguration on Friday. Is he up to the job of uniting and leading the nation — of achieving and sustaining the tone that Americans for generations have called presidential? Or will self-absorption and free-flowing peevishness be the hallmarks of an era of domestic and global crises, stirred up by grossly uninformed perceptions of reality?

Poll numbers suggest that the public already has lost heart during the transition, rating Mr. Trump the least popular president-elect of modern times. Mr. Trump, of course, reacted with a fresh Twitter attack that the polls were “rigged.” Sad, as he likes to say, that he did not realize that the nation, and his standing, would be better served by a hint of humility and resolve to win over all Americans. Instead we had more “Trump Lashes Out …” headlines.

The contrast with President Obama’s incumbency and personal demeanor could not be more vivid or less encouraging. Mr. Trump’s first news conference as president-elect, just last week, was a clinic in bombast and self-aggrandizement, punctuated by denials of the need to make his tax returns public or to curtail business interests that could invite corruption. His breathtaking ignorance about health care and the Affordable Care Act made him seem clueless about just how he imagines replacing it.

Mr. Obama’s final news conference this week was a study in the sort of intelligent public speaking on complex issues that has characterized his eight years of scandal-free governance. It was leavened with a bit of self-deprecation, as Mr. Obama referred to “No-Drama Obama” in noting his own optimism, as if mindful of the years of melodramatics that might follow.

Americans who voted for Mr. Trump, as well as those who voted against him, surely must see that few incoming presidents have been in greater need of an informed cabinet and experienced public officials. Yet his cabinet choices have largely been ideologues and plutocrats who may or may not carry out Mr. Trump’s contradictory campaign promises.

This is not the first time that “transition” has seemed too gentle a word for a startling if not shocking swerve in public policy and presidential style. A youthful John F. Kennedy succeeded the aged Dwight Eisenhower; the rock-ribbed conservative Ronald Reagan followed the liberal Jimmy Carter. Barack Obama came on the heels of George W. Bush, who himself followed Bill Clinton. Each of these presidents came into office with passionate opponents who worried for the future of the nation.

Yet each president also seemed awed by the responsibilities of the office, and each seemed to grasp what the country needed. “Our unity, our union, is a serious work of leaders and citizens and every generation,” Mr. Bush declared at his first inaugural, after, like Mr. Trump, losing the popular vote but winning in the Electoral College. “And this is my solemn pledge: I will work to build a single nation of justice and opportunity.”

The campaign is over. The nation needs to hear Mr. Trump pick up this grand American theme and then find enough personal conviction to make it a central aspiration of his presidency.

Why Donald Trump Should Not Be President: NEW YORK TIMES/Editorial

El 24 de septiembre el New York Times publicó un editorial dando su apoyo a Hillay Clinton. Es una tradición de los grandes periódicos de Estados Unidos publicar recomendaciones en las elecciones importantes. El día siguiente, el New York Times publicó otro editorial expliando porque Trump no debe ser presidente de Estados Unidos.

Segunda Vuelta

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Donald Trump is a man who dwells in bigotry, bluster and false promises.

NEW YORK TIMESEditorial, 25 septiembre 2016 / NEW YORK TIMES

When Donald Trump began his improbable run for president 15 months ago, he offered his wealth and television celebrity as credentials, then slyly added a twist of fearmongering about Mexican “rapists” flooding across the Southern border.

From that moment of combustion, it became clear that Mr. Trump’s views were matters of dangerous impulse and cynical pandering rather than thoughtful politics. Yet he has attracted throngs of Americans who ascribe higher purpose to him than he has demonstrated in a freewheeling campaign marked by bursts of false and outrageous allegations, personal insults, xenophobic nationalism, unapologetic sexism and positions that shift according to his audience and his whims.

Now here stands Mr. Trump, feisty from his runaway Republican primary victories and ready for the first presidential debate, scheduled for Monday night, with Hillary Clinton. It is time for others who are still undecided, and perhaps hoping for some dramatic change in our politics and governance, to take a hard look and see Mr. Trump for who he is. They have an obligation to scrutinize his supposed virtues as a refreshing counterpolitician. Otherwise, they could face the consequences of handing the White House to a man far more consumed with himself than with the nation’s well-being.

A financial wizard who can bring executive magic to government?

Despite his towering properties, Mr. Trump has a record rife with bankruptcies and sketchy ventures like Trump University, which authorities are investigating after numerous complaints of fraud. His name has been chiseled off his failed casinos in Atlantic City.

Mr. Trump’s brazen refusal to disclose his tax returns — as Mrs. Clinton and other nominees for decades have done — should sharpen voter wariness of his business and charitable operations. Disclosure would undoubtedly raise numerous red flags; the public record already indicates that in at least some years he made full use of available loopholes and paid no taxes.

Mr. Trump has been opaque about his questionable global investments in Russia and elsewhere, which could present conflicts of interest as president, particularly if his business interests are left in the hands of his children, as he intends. Investigations have found self-dealing. He notably tapped $258,000 in donors’ money from his charitable foundation to settle lawsuits involving his for-profit businesses, according to The Washington Post.

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El editorial apoyando a Clinton

A straight talker who tells it like it is?

Mr. Trump, who has no experience in national security, declares that he has a plan to soundly defeat the Islamic State militants in Syria, but won’t reveal it, bobbing and weaving about whether he would commit ground troops. Voters cannot judge whether he has any idea what he’s talking about without an outline of his plan, yet Mr. Trump ludicrously insists he must not tip off the enemy.

Another of his cornerstone proposals — his campaign pledge of a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslim newcomers plus the deportation of 11 million undocumented immigrants across a border wall paid for by Mexico — has been subjected to endless qualifications as he zigs and zags in pursuit of middle-ground voters.

Whatever his gyrations, Mr. Trump always does make clear where his heart lies — with the anti-immigrant, nativist and racist signals that he scurrilously employed to build his base.

He used the shameful “birther” campaign against President Obama’s legitimacy as a wedge for his candidacy. But then he opportunistically denied his own record, trolling for undecided voters by conceding that Mr. Obama was a born American. In the process he tried to smear Mrs. Clinton as the instigator of the birther canard and then fled reporters’ questions.

Since his campaign began, NBC News has tabulated that Mr. Trump has made 117 distinct policy shifts on 20 major issues, including three contradictory views on abortion in one eight-hour stretch. As reporters try to pin down his contradictions, Mr. Trump has mocked them at his rallies. He said he would “loosen” libel laws to make it easier to sue news organizations that displease him.

An expert negotiator who can fix government and overpower other world leaders?

His plan for cutting the national debt was far from a confidence builder: He said he might try to persuade creditors to accept less than the government owed. This fanciful notion, imported from Mr. Trump’s debt-steeped real estate world, would undermine faith in the government and the stability of global financial markets. His tax-cut plan has been no less alarming. It was initially estimated to cost $10 trillion in tax revenue, then, after revisions, maybe $3 trillion, by one adviser’s estimate. There is no credible indication of how this would be paid for — only assurances that those in the upper brackets will be favored.

If Mr. Trump were to become president, his open doubts about the value of NATO would present a major diplomatic and security challenge, as would his repeated denunciations of trade deals and relations with China. Mr. Trump promises to renegotiate the Iran nuclear control agreement, as if it were an air-rights deal on Broadway. Numerous experts on national defense and international affairs have recoiled at the thought of his commanding the nuclear arsenal. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell privately called Mr. Trump “an international pariah.” Mr. Trump has repeatedly denounced global warming as a “hoax,” although a golf course he owns in Ireland is citing global warming in seeking to build a protective wall against a rising sea.

In expressing admiration for the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, Mr. Trump implies acceptance of Mr. Putin’s dictatorial abuse of critics and dissenters, some of whom have turned up murdered, and Mr. Putin’s vicious crackdown on the press. Even worse was Mr. Trump’s urging Russia to meddle in the presidential campaign by hacking the email of former Secretary of State Clinton. Voters should consider what sort of deals Mr. Putin might obtain if Mr. Trump, his admirer, wins the White House.

A change agent for the nation and the world?

There can be little doubt of that. But voters should be asking themselves if Mr. Trump will deliver the kind of change they want. Starting a series of trade wars is a recipe for recession, not for new American jobs. Blowing a hole in the deficit by cutting taxes for the wealthy will not secure Americans’ financial future, and alienating our allies won’t protect our security. Mr. Trump has also said he will get rid of the new national health insurance system that millions now depend on, without saying how he would replace it.

The list goes on: He would scuttle the financial reforms and consumer protections born of the Great Recession. He would upend the Obama administration’s progress on the environment, vowing to “cancel the Paris climate agreement” on global warming. He would return to the use of waterboarding, a torture method, in violation of international treaty law. He has blithely called for reconsideration of Japan’s commitment not to develop nuclear weapons. He favors a national campaign of “stop and frisk” policing, which has been ruled unconstitutional. He has blessed the National Rifle Association’s ambition to arm citizens to engage in what he imagines would be defensive “shootouts” with gunmen. He has so coarsened our politics that he remains a contender for the presidency despite musing about his opponent as a gunshot target.

Voters should also consider Mr. Trump’s silence about areas of national life that are crying out for constructive change: How would he change our schools for the better? How would he lift more Americans out of poverty? How would his condescending appeal to black voters — a cynical signal to white moderates concerned about his racist supporters — translate into credible White House initiatives to promote racial progress? How would his call to monitor and even close some mosques affect the nation’s life and global reputation? Would his Supreme Court nominees be zealous, self-certain extensions of himself? In all these areas, Mrs. Clinton has offered constructive proposals. He has offered bluster, or nothing. The most specific domestic policy he has put forward, on tax breaks for child care, would tilt toward the wealthy.

Voters attracted by the force of the Trump personality should pause and take note of the precise qualities he exudes as an audaciously different politician: bluster, savage mockery of those who challenge him, degrading comments about women, mendacity, crude generalizations about nations and religions. Our presidents are role models for generations of our children. Is this the example we want for them?

Brazil’s Political Crisis Deepens. Editorial/The New York Times

 Protests in Sao Paoulo against Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and her new chief of staff, and former president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Protests in Sao Paoulo against Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and her new chief of staff, and former president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

NEW YORK TOMES NYTThe Editorial Board, 18 marzo 2016 / THE NEW YORK TIMES

President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil is fighting for political survival as calls for her impeachment grow louder amid a widening corruption investigation and a tanking economy.

Astonishingly, however, she appears to have felt she had political capital to spare last week when she appointed her predecessor and political mentor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, to be chief of staff, a move that largely shields him, for now, from prosecution in the corruption scandal involving his ties to giant construction companies.

Ms. Rousseff’s explanation was tone deaf and ridiculous. She characterized the appointment as an opportunity to bring back to the government a maverick politician and talented negotiator to help Brazil contend with an assortment of crises, including the spread of the Zika virus.

“If Lula’s arrival strengthens my government, and there are people who don’t want it strengthened, then what can I do?” Ms. Rousseff said.

Ms. Rousseff has now created yet another crisis, one of confidence in her own judgment. Mr. da Silva, who led Brazil from 2003 to 2010, has been dealing with charges of illicit self-enrichment since he left office. Close associates, including his former chief of staff, José Dirceu de Oliveira e Silva, and the former treasurer of the ruling Workers’ Party, João Vaccari Neto, are in prison for corruption.

Early this month, investigators raided Mr. da Silva’s home and took him into custody for questioning. Prosecutors then sought to arrest him, accusing him of having accepted $200,000 worth of renovations for a beachfront property investigators believed he planned to occupy. Federal prosecutors are also investigating whether the millions of dollars Mr. da Silva and his foundation have received from companies linked to the scandal surrounding Petrobras, the national oil company, were actually bribes.

Mr. da Silva, a leftist leader, says he is not guilty and is entitled to his day in court. But he and Ms. Rousseff want to delay that day for as long as possible by giving him the protections from prosecution that cabinet members enjoy.

Roughly 50 officials — including politicians from other political parties — have been implicated in the Petrobras scandal, and Brazilians are rightly disgusted with their leaders. This latest move by the governing party sent protesters to the streets to demand Ms. Rousseff’s resignation and to express their outrage at what amounts to blatant cronyism. If her latest blunder pushes the impeachment effort across the finish line, Ms. Rousseff will have only herself to blame.