domingo, 30 de septiembre de 2018

Migrant Children in Danger

Hundreds of Migrant Children Quietly Moved to a Tent Camp on the Texas Border

Migrant children at a detention facility in Tornillo, Tex.CreditCreditMike Blake/Reuters

  • The New York Times

In shelters from Kansas to New York, hundreds of migrant children have been roused in the middle of the night in recent weeks and loaded onto buses with backpacks and snacks for a cross-country journey to their new home: a barren tent city on a sprawling patch of desert in West Texas.

Until now, most undocumented children being held by federal immigration authorities had been housed in private foster homes or shelters, sleeping two or three to a room. They received formal schooling and regular visits with legal representatives assigned to their immigration cases.

But in the rows of sand-colored tents in Tornillo, Tex., children in groups of 20, separated by gender, sleep lined up in bunks. There is no school: The children are given workbooks that they have no obligation to complete. Access to legal services is limited.'

These midnight voyages are playing out across the country, as the federal government struggles to find room for more than 13,000 detained migrant children — the largest population ever — whose numbers have increased more than fivefold since last year.

The average length of time that migrant children spend in custody has nearly doubled over the same period, from 34 days to 59, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees their care.

To deal with the surging shelter populations, which have hovered near 90 percent of capacity since May, a mass reshuffling is underway and shows no signs of slowing. Hundreds of children are being shipped from shelters to West Texas each week, totaling more than 1,600 so far.

The camp in Tornillo operates like a small, pop-up city, about 35 miles southeast of El Paso on the Mexico border, complete with portable toilets. Air-conditioned tents that vary in size are used for housing, recreation and medical care. Originally opened in June for 30 days with a capacity of 400, it expanded in September to be able to house 3,800, and is now expected to remain open at least through the end of the year.

“It is common to use influx shelters as done on military bases in the past, and the intent is to use these temporary facilities only as long as needed,” said Evelyn Stauffer, a spokeswoman for the Health and Human Services Department.

Ms. Stauffer said the need for the tent city reflected serious problems in the immigration system.
“The number of families and unaccompanied alien children apprehended are a symptom of the larger problem, namely a broken immigration system,” Ms. Stauffer said. “Their ages and the hazardous journey they take make unaccompanied alien children vulnerable to human trafficking, exploitation and abuse. That is why H.H.S. joins the president in calling on Congress to reform this broken system.”

But the mass transfers are raising alarm among immigrant advocates, who were already concerned about the lengthy periods of time children are spendong in federal custody.

The roughly 100 shelters that have, until now, been the main location for housing detained migrant children are licensed and monitored by state child welfare authorities, who impose requirements on safety and education as well as staff hiring and training.

The tent city in Tornillo, on the other hand, is unregulated, except for guidelines created by the Department of Health and Human Services. For example, schooling is not required there, as it is in regular migrant children shelters.

Mark Greenberg, who oversaw the care of migrant children under President Barack Obama, helped to craft the emergency shelter guidelines. He said the agency tried “to the greatest extent possible” to ensure that conditions in facilities like the one at Tornillo would mirror those in regular shelters, “but there are some ways in which that’s difficult or impossible to do.”

Several shelter workers, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of being fired, described what they said has become standard practice for moving the children: In order to avoid escape attempts, the moves are carried out late at night because children will be less likely to try to run away. For the same reason, children are generally given little advance warning that they will be moved.

At one shelter in the Midwest whose occupants were among those recently transferred to Tornillo, about two dozen children were given just a few hours’ notice last week before they were loaded onto buses — any longer than that, according to one of the shelter workers, and the children may have panicked or tried to flee.

The children wore belts etched in pen with phone numbers for their emergency contacts. One young boy asked the shelter worker if he would be taken care of in Texas. The shelter worker replied that he would, and told him that by moving, he was making space for other children like him who were stuck at the border and needed a place to live

Some staff members cried when they learned of the move, the shelter worker said, fearing what was in store for the children who had been in their care. Others tried to protest. But managers explained that tough choices had to be made to deal with the overflowing population.

The system for sheltering migrant children came under strain this summer, when the already large numbers were boosted by more than 2,500 young border crossers who were separated from their parents under the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy. But those children were only a fraction of the total number who are currently detained.

Most of the detained children crossed the border alone, without their parents. Some crossed illegally; others are seeking asylum.

Children who are deemed “unaccompanied minors,” either because they were separated from their parents or crossed the border alone, are held in federal custody until they can be matched with sponsors, usually relatives or family friends, who agree to house them while their immigration cases play out in the courts.

The move to Texas is meant to be temporary. Rather than send new arrivals there, the government is sending children who are likely to be released sooner, and will spend less time there—mainly older children, ages 13 to 17, who are considered close to being placed with sponsors. Still, because sponsorship placements are often protracted, immigrant advocates said there was a possibility that many of the children could be living in the tent city for months.

“Obviously we have concerns about kids falling through the cracks, not getting sufficient attention if they need attention, not getting the emotional or mental health care that they need,” said Leah Chavla, a lawyer with the Women’s Refugee Commission, an advocacy group.

“This cannot be the right solution,” Ms. Chavla said. “We need to focus on making sure that kids can get placed with sponsors and get out of custody.”

The number of detained migrant children has spiked even though monthly border crossings have remained relatively unchanged, in part because harsh rhetoric and policies introduced by the Trump administration have made it harder to place children with sponsors.

Traditionally, most sponsors have been undocumented immigrants themselves, and have feared jeopardizing their own ability to remain in the country by stepping forward to claim a child. The risk increased in June, when federal authorities announced that potential sponsors and other adult members of their households would have to submit fingerprints, and that the data would be shared with immigration authorities.

Last week, Matthew Albence, a senior official with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, testified before Congress that the agency had arrested dozens of people who applied to sponsor unaccompanied minors. The agency later confirmed that 70 percent of those arrested did not have prior criminal records.

“Close to 80 percent of the individuals that are either sponsors or household members of sponsors are here in the country illegally, and a large chunk of those are criminal aliens. So we are continuing to pursue those individuals,” Mr. Albence said.

Seeking to process the children more quickly, officials introduced new rules that will require some of them to appear in court within a month of being detained, rather than after 60 days, which was the previous standard, according to shelter workers. Many will appear via video conference call, rather than in person, to plead their case for legal status to an immigration judge. Those who are deemed ineligible for relief will be swiftly deported.

The longer that children remain in custody, the more likely they are to become anxious or depressed, which can lead to violent outbursts or escape attempts, according to shelter workers and reports that have emerged from the system in recent months.

Advocates said those concerns are heightened at a larger facility like Tornillo, where signs that a child is struggling are more likely to be overlooked, because of its size. They added that moving children to the tent city without providing enough time to prepare them emotionally or to say goodbye to friends could compound trauma that many are already struggling with.

The Myth of the Liberal Order

Illiberal disorder: a U.S. military police officer in Karbala, Iraq, July 2003.

The Myth of the Liberal Order

From Historical Accident to Conventional Wisdom

July/August 2018
Among the debates that have swept the U.S. foreign policy community since the beginning of the Trump administration, alarm about the fate of the liberal international rules-based order has emerged as one of the few fixed points. From the international relations scholar G. John Ikenberry’s claim that “for seven decades the world has been dominated by a western liberal order” to U.S. Vice President Joe Biden’s call in the final days of the Obama administration to “act urgently to defend the liberal international order,” this banner waves atop most discussions of the United States’ role in the world. 
About this order, the reigning consensus makes three core claims. First, that the liberal order has been the principal cause of the so-called long peace among great powers for the past seven decades. Second, that constructing this order has been the main driver of U.S. engagement in the world over that period. And third, that U.S. President Donald Trump is the primary threat to the liberal order—and thus to world peace. 

The political scientist Joseph Nye, for example, has written, “The demonstrable success of the order in helping secure and stabilize the world over the past seven decades has led to a strong consensus that defending, deepening, and extending this system has been and continues to be the central task of U.S. foreign policy.” Nye has gone so far as to assert: “I am not worried by the rise of China. I am more worried by the rise of Trump.”

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Although all these propositions contain some truth, each is more wrong than right. The “long peace” was not the result of a liberal order but the byproduct of the dangerous balance of power between the Soviet Union and the United States during the four and a half decades of the Cold War and then of a brief period of U.S. dominance. U.S. engagement in the world has been driven not by the desire to advance liberalism abroad or to build an international order but by the need to do what was necessary to preserve liberal democracy at home. And although Trump is undermining key elements of the current order, he is far from the biggest threat to global stability. 
These misconceptions about the liberal order’s causes and consequences lead its advocates to call for the United States to strengthen the order by clinging to pillars from the past and rolling back authoritarianism around the globe. Yet rather than seek to return to an imagined past in which the United States molded the world in its image, Washington should limit its efforts to ensuring sufficient order abroad to allow it to concentrate on reconstructing a viable liberal democracy at home.


The ambiguity of each of the terms in the phrase “liberal international rules-based order” creates a slipperiness that allows the concept to be applied to almost any situation. When, in 2017, members of the World Economic Forum in Davos crowned Chinese President Xi Jinping the leader of the liberal economic order—even though he heads the most protectionist, mercantilist, and predatory major economy in the world—they revealed that, at least in this context, the word “liberal” has come unhinged. 
What is more, “rules-based order” is redundant. Order is a condition created by rules and regularity. What proponents of the liberal international rules-based order really mean is an order that embodies good rules, ones that are equal or fair. The United States is said to have designed an order that others willingly embrace and sustain.
Many forget, however, that even the UN Charter, which prohibits nations from using military force against other nations or intervening in their internal affairs, privileges the strong over the weak. Enforcement of the charter’s prohibitions is the preserve of the UN Security Council, on which each of the five great powers has a permanent seat—and a veto. As the Indian strategist C. Raja Mohan has observed, superpowers are “exceptional”; that is, when they decide it suits their purpose, they make exceptions for themselves. The fact that in the first 17 years of this century, the self-proclaimed leader of the liberal order invaded two countries, conducted air strikes and Special Forces raids to kill hundreds of people it unilaterally deemed to be terrorists, and subjected scores of others to “extraordinary rendition,” often without any international legal authority (and sometimes without even national legal authority), speaks for itself.


The claim that the liberal order produced the last seven decades of peace overlooks a major fact: the first four of those decades were defined not by a liberal order but by a cold war between two polar opposites. As the historian who named this “long peace” has explained, the international system that prevented great-power war during that time was the unintended consequence of the struggle between the Soviet Union and the United States. In John Lewis Gaddis’ words, “Without anyone’s having designed it, and without any attempt whatever to consider the requirements of justice, the nations of the postwar era lucked into a system of international relations that, because it has been based upon realities of power, has served the cause of order—if not justice—better than one might have expected.” 

During the Cold War, both superpowers enlisted allies and clients around the globe, creating what came to be known as a bipolar world. Within each alliance or bloc, order was enforced by the superpower (as Hungarians and Czechs discovered when they tried to defect in 1956 and 1968, respectively, and as the British and French learned when they defied U.S. wishes in 1956, during the Suez crisis). Order emerged from a balance of power, which allowed the two superpowers to develop the constraints that preserved what U.S. President John F. Kennedy called, in the aftermath of the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, the “precarious status quo.”
What moved a country that had for almost two centuries assiduously avoided entangling military alliances, refused to maintain a large standing military during peacetime, left international economics to others, and rejected the League of Nations to use its soldiers, diplomats, and money to reshape half the world? In a word, fear. The strategists revered by modern U.S. scholars as “the wise men” believed that the Soviet Union posed a greater threat to the United States than Nazism had. As the diplomat George Kennan wrote in his legendary “Long Telegram,” the Soviet Union was “a political force committed fanatically to the belief that with US there can be no permanent modus vivendi.” Soviet Communists, Kennan wrote, believed it was necessary that “our society be disrupted, our traditional way of life be destroyed, the international authority of our state be broken, if Soviet power [was] to be secure.” 

Before the nuclear age, such a threat would have required a hot war as intense as the one the United States and its allies had just fought against Nazi Germany. But after the Soviet Union tested its first atomic bomb, in 1949, American statesmen began wrestling with the thought that total war as they had known it was becoming obsolete. In the greatest leap of strategic imagination in the history of U.S. foreign policy, they developed a strategy for a form of combat never previously seen, the conduct of war by every means short of physical conflict between the principal combatants. 

To prevent a cold conflict from turning hot, they accepted—for the time being—many otherwise unacceptable facts, such as the Soviet domination of Eastern Europe. They modulated their competition with mutual constraints that included three noes: no use of nuclear weapons, no overt killing of each other’s soldiers, and no military intervention in the other’s recognized sphere of influence. 

American strategists incorporated Western Europe and Japan into this war effort because they saw them as centers of economic and strategic gravity. To this end, the United States launched the Marshall Plan to rebuild Western Europe, founded the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and negotiated the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade to promote global prosperity. And to ensure that Western Europe and Japan remained in active cooperation with the United States, it established NATO and the U.S.-Japanese alliance.

Each initiative served as a building block in an order designed first and foremost to defeat the Soviet adversary. Had there been no Soviet threat, there would have been no Marshall Plan and no NATO. The United States has never promoted liberalism abroad when it believed that doing so would pose a significant threat to its vital interests at home. Nor has it ever refrained from using military force to protect its interests when the use of force violated international rules. Had there been no Soviet threat, there would have been no Marshall Plan and no Nato. 

Nonetheless, when the United States has had the opportunity to advance freedom for others—again, with the important caveat that doing so would involve little risk to itself—it has acted. From the founding of the republic, the nation has embraced radical, universalistic ideals. In proclaiming that “all” people “are created equal,” the Declaration of Independence did not mean just those living in the 13 colonies.

It was no accident that in reconstructing its defeated adversaries  Germany and Japan and shoring up its allies in Western Europe, the United States sought to build liberal democracies that would embrace shared values as well as shared interests. The ideological campaign against the Soviet Union hammered home fundamental, if exaggerated, differences between “the free world” and “the evil empire.” Moreover, American policymakers knew that in mobilizing and sustaining support in Congress and among the public, appeals to values are as persuasive as arguments about interests.

In his memoir, Present at the Creation, former U.S. Secretary of State Dean Acheson, an architect of the postwar effort, explained the thinking that motivated U.S. foreign policy. The prospect of Europe falling under Soviet control through a series of “‘settlements by default’ to Soviet pressure” required the “creation of strength throughout the free world” that would “show the Soviet leaders by successful containment that they could not hope to expand their influence throughout the world.” Persuading Congress and the American public to support this undertaking, Acheson acknowledged, sometimes required making the case “clearer than truth.” 


In the aftermath of the disintegration of the Soviet Union and Russian President Boris Yeltsin’s campaign to “bury communism,” Americans were understandably caught up in a surge of triumphalism. The adversary on which they had focused for over 40 years stood by as the Berlin Wall came tumbling down and Germany reunified. It then joined with the United States in a unanimous UN Security Council resolution authorizing the use of force to throw the Iraqi military out of Kuwait. As the iron fist of Soviet oppression withdrew, free people in Eastern Europe embraced market economies and democracy. U.S. President George H. W. Bush declared a “new world order.” Hereafter, under a banner of “engage and enlarge,” the United States would welcome a world clamoring to join a growing liberal order. 

Writing about the power of ideas, the economist John Maynard Keynes noted, “Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back.” In this case, American politicians were following a script offered by the political scientist Francis Fukuyama in his best-selling 1992 book, The End of History and the Last Man. Fukuyama argued that millennia of conflict among ideologies were over. From this point on, all nations would embrace free-market economics to make their citizens rich and democratic governments to make them free. “What we may be witnessing,” he wrote, “is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of postwar history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.” In 1996, the New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman went even further by proclaiming the “Golden Arches Theory of Conflict Prevention”: “When a country reaches a certain level of economic development, when it has a middle class big enough to support a McDonald’s, it becomes a McDonald’s country, and people in McDonald’s countries don’t like to fight wars; they like to wait in line for burgers.” 

This vision led to an odd coupling of neoconservative crusaders on the right and liberal interventionists on the left. Together, they persuaded a succession of U.S. presidents to try to advance the spread of capitalism and liberal democracy through the barrel of a gun. In 1999, Bill Clinton bombed Belgrade to force it to free Kosovo. In 2003, George W. Bush invaded Iraq to topple its president, Saddam Hussein. When his stated rationale for the invasion collapsed after U.S. forces were unable to find weapons of mass destruction, Bush declared a new mission: “to build a lasting democracy that is peaceful and prosperous.” In the words of Condoleezza Rice, his national security adviser at the time, “Iraq and Afghanistan are vanguards of this effort to spread democracy and tolerance and freedom throughout the Greater Middle East.” And in 2011, Barack Obama embraced the Arab Spring’s promise to bring democracy to the nations of the Middle East and sought to advance it by bombing Libya and deposing its brutal leader, Muammar al-Qaddafi. Few in Washington paused to note that in each case, the unipolar power was using military force to impose liberalism on countries whose governments could not strike back. Since the world had entered a new chapter of history, lessons from the past about the likely consequences of such behavior were ignored. The end of the Cold War produced a unipolar moment, not a unipolar era. 

As is now clear, the end of the Cold War produced a unipolar moment, not a unipolar era. Today, foreign policy elites have woken up to the meteoric rise of an authoritarian China, which now rivals or even surpasses the United States in many domains, and the resurgence of an assertive, illiberal Russian nuclear superpower, which is willing to use its military to change both borders in Europe and the balance of power in the Middle East. More slowly and more painfully, they are discovering that the United States’ share of global power has shrunk. When measured by the yardstick of purchasing power parity, the U.S. economy, which accounted for half of the world’s GDP after World War II, had fallen to less than a quarter of global GDP by the end of the Cold War and stands at just one-seventh today. For a nation whose core strategy has been to overwhelm challenges with resources, this decline calls into question the terms of U.S. leadership.

This rude awakening to the return of history jumps out in the Trump administration’s National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy, released at the end of last year and the beginning of this year, respectively. The NDS notes that in the unipolar decades, “the United States has enjoyed uncontested or dominant superiority in every operating domain.” As a consequence, “we could generally deploy our forces when we wanted, assemble them where we wanted, and operate how we wanted.” But today, as the NSS observes, China and Russia “are fielding military capabilities designed to deny America access in times of crisis and to contest our ability to operate freely.” Revisionist powers, it concludes, are “trying to change the international order in their favor.”


During most of the nation’s 242 years, Americans have recognized the necessity to give priority to ensuring freedom at home over advancing aspirations abroad. The Founding Fathers were acutely aware that constructing a government in which free citizens would govern themselves was an uncertain, hazardous undertaking. Among the hardest questions they confronted was how to create a government powerful enough to ensure Americans’ rights at home and protect them from enemies abroad without making it so powerful that it would abuse its strength.

Their solution, as the presidential scholar Richard Neustadt wrote, was not just a “separation of powers” among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches but “separated institutions sharing power.” The Constitution was an “invitation to struggle.” And presidents, members of Congress, judges, and even journalists have been struggling ever since. The process was not meant to be pretty. As Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis explained to those frustrated by the delays, gridlock, and even idiocy these checks and balances sometimes produce, the founders’ purpose was “not to promote efficiency but to preclude the exercise of arbitrary power.” 

From this beginning, the American experiment in self-government has always been a work in progress. It has lurched toward failure on more than one occasion. When Abraham Lincoln asked “whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, . . . can long endure,” it was not a rhetorical question. But repeatedly and almost miraculously, it has demonstrated a capacity for renewal and reinvention. Throughout this ordeal, the recurring imperative for American leaders has been to show that liberalism can survive in at least one country.

For nearly two centuries, that meant warding off foreign intervention and leaving others to their fates. Individual Americans may have sympathized with French revolutionary cries of “Liberty, equality, fraternity!”; American traders may have spanned the globe; and American missionaries may have sought to win converts on all continents. But in choosing when and where to spend its blood and treasure, the U.S. government focused on the United States

Only in the aftermath of the Great Depression and World War II did American strategists conclude that the United States’ survival required greater entanglement abroad. Only when they perceived a Soviet attempt to create an empire that would pose an unacceptable threat did they develop and sustain the alliances and institutions that fought the Cold War. Throughout that effort, as NSC-68, a Truman administration national security policy paper that summarized U.S. Cold War strategy, stated, the mission was “to preserve the United States as a free nation with our fundamental institutions and values intact.”


Among the current, potentially mortal threats to the global order, Trump is one, but not the most important. His withdrawal from initiatives championed by earlier administrations aimed at constraining greenhouse gas emissions and promoting trade has been unsettling, and his misunderstanding of the strength that comes from unity with allies is troubling. Yet the rise of China, the resurgence of Russia, and the decline of the United States’ share of global power each present much larger challenges than Trump. Moreover, it is impossible to duck the question: Is Trump more a symptom or a cause? 

While I was on a recent trip to Beijing, a high-level Chinese official posed an uncomfortable question to me. Imagine, he said, that as much of the American elite believes, Trump’s character and experience make him unfit to serve as the leader of a great nation. Who would be to blame for his being president? Trump, for his opportunism in seizing victory, or the political system that allowed him to do so?

No one denies that in its current form, the U.S. government is failing. Long before Trump, the political class that brought unending, unsuccessful wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, as well as the financial crisis and Great Recession, had discredited itself. These disasters have done more to diminish confidence in liberal self-government than Trump could do in his critics’ wildest imaginings, short of a mistake that leads to a catastrophic war. The overriding challenge for American believers in democratic governance is thus nothing less than to reconstruct a working democracy at home. 

Fortunately, that does not require converting the Chinese, the Russians, or anyone else to American beliefs about liberty. Nor does it necessitate changing foreign regimes into democracies. Instead, as Kennedy put it in his American University commencement speech, in 1963, it will be enough to sustain a world order “safe for diversity”—liberal and illiberal alike. That will mean adapting U.S. efforts abroad to the reality that other countries have contrary views about governance and seek to establish their own international orders governed by their own rules. Achieving even a minimal order that can accommodate that diversity will take a surge of strategic imagination as far beyond the current conventional wisdom as the Cold War strategy that emerged over the four years after Kennan’s Long Telegram was from the Washington consensus in 1946.



miércoles, 26 de septiembre de 2018


El camino hacia la no-libertad. Créditos de las fotos: Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 2.0) y (CC BY 4.0). BlogElcano

El camino hacia la no-libertad


Timothy Snyder es un prolijo y políglota catedrático de Historia en Yale University,
especializado en todas esas tragedias con epicentro en la moderna Europa. Sus
investigaciones se han venido centrando en la letanía de comparaciones entre la escena
internacional generada en la primera mitad del siglo XX y la actualidad más relevante. Su
última aportación a esta creciente e incómoda área de conocimiento –The Road to
Unfreedom– es un análisis tan elocuente como deprimente que ronda la categoría de
lectura obligada para todos aquellos interesados en comprender la actual crisis política
que no conoce fronteras.

A partir de la Historia, la Filosofía y una investigación casi periodística, Snyder define el
camino hacia la no-libertad como una preocupante desviación de las tradiciones
intelectuales de Occidente. Es decir, un forzado atajo en el que se está intentando
prescindir tanto de la fe ilustrada en la razón como del carácter razonable de los otros para
llegar hasta un debilitador cuestionamiento de instituciones, valores, mediaciones,
convenciones y hasta la especialización y el estudio. No se salva ni la verdad, ni la
1/4 realidad, ni tampoco los hechos.

1.– El futuro es otro país. A partir del viejo dicho que insiste en que el pasado es el
equivalente a otro país, Snyder empieza por preguntarse en su análisis contemporáneo
qué país puede ser el futuro. A su juicio, la inquietante respuesta para el porvenir de
Estados Unidos y Europa no es otra que Rusia. Una Rusia controlada por una oligarquía
que monopoliza el poder económico y político a través de una mezcla de ilusiones y
represión. Según Snyder, el régimen de Putin está basado en “mentiras tan enormes que
no pueden ser cuestionadas, porque dudar de ellas significaría dudar de todo”.

El libro argumenta que para Rusia ahora resulta mucho más fácil cuestionar e interferir que
durante los tiempos de la Guerra Fría. Ni en su mejor coyuntura, la Unión Soviética no fue
capaz de competir con Occidente a la hora de ofrecer evidencias tangibles de que el
comunismo era capaz de lograr mayor bienestar, prosperidad y modernidad. Sin embargo,
cuando los votantes invierten cada vez más tiempo delante de pantallas electrónicas, es
mucho más sencillo obtener resultados dentro de la renovada competencia planteada por
Rusia. En sus charlas, Snyder suele incidir en que el presupuesto anual de Rusia para
ciberguerra es menos de lo que cuesta un solo avión F-35 del Pentágono, con la retórica
pregunta de cuál de esas dos armas ha hecho más por influenciar acontecimientos

2.– Para entender a Putin. 

Snyder realiza un especial esfuerzo en explicar la trastienda ideológica utilizada por Vladimir 
Putin para su premeditada cruzada contra Occidente. En el
entramado tóxico del Putinismo se mezcla el “esquizo-fascismo”, conceptos religiosos y
nociones decimonónicas de supremacía racial y supervivencia. El pensador favorito del
Kremlin es Ivan Ilyin (1883-1954), intelectual deportado en 1922 por los bolcheviques pero
no precisamente por su carencia de radicalidad. Convertido en ideólogo autoritario de la
diáspora rusa, Ilyin fue un ferviente admirador el fascismo italiano. Aunque con su
experiencia de primera mano como residente en Alemania, ese fetichismo autoritario no se
extendió a los nazis. Según Ilyin, la suprema autoridad de Rusia debía estar concentrada
en un solo individuo, tan redentor como viril, por encima de cualquier otra consideración
democrática. Y para defender a la virtuosa y superior Rusia, cualquier medio sería

A la hora de satisfacer sus inclinaciones más antiliberales, Putin también se sirve de la
delirante obra de Lev Gumilev (1912-1992), pensador del euroasianismo que relacionó la
identidad de las naciones con la influencia de rayos cósmicos. Según Gumilev, la voluntad
existencial de Occidente se encuentra casi agotada y en decadencia mientras que a Rusia
le sobra energía y destino para formar un todo-poderoso Estado entre Europa y Asia.
Estas peculiares aportaciones al Putinismo, según Snyder, tienen en común la creencia
casi mística en la existencia de un destino inevitable para las naciones y sus gobernantes,
por encima de leyes, procedimientos o incluso realidades físicas. Bajo este imperativo
espiritual, la política o la búsqueda de la verdad resultan opciones superfluas e incluso

3.– La política de lo inevitable. Para esta perspectiva, que abarca desde el marxismo a la
creencia en el triunfo de la economía de mercado, la historia avanza de forma inexorable hacia un claro final. La política de la inevitabilidad según Snyder es la idea de que no hay
ideas, es el cliché de que no existen alternativas posibles. Lo que implica negar la
responsabilidad individual de contemplar la historia y cambiarla. A juicio del catedrático de
Yale, bajo la luz de lo inevitable “la vida se convierte en un paseo sonámbulo hacia una
tumba predeterminada en una parcela precomprada”. Tanto estadounidenses y
americanos entraron en el siglo XXI bajo una perspectiva de inevitabilidad: “el final de la
historia” propugnado por Francis Fukuyama como el obvio triunfo de la democracia liberal
y la economía de mercado. El colapso de esta perspectiva, acelerado por la gran crisis
financiera del 2008, habría entreabierto las puertas a la política de eternidad.

4.– La política de la eternidad. Desde este punto de vista, no existe el progreso. La
historia no es más que un bucle de continuas humillaciones, muerte y renacimiento que se
repiten una y otra vez. Esta política de la eternidad intenta encasillar a las naciones dentro
de una historia cíclica de victimismo en la que siempre retornan las mismas amenazas del
pasado. Las crisis se coreografían y también se manipulan las emociones resultantes. El
futuro se ahoga en el presente. Y con la ayuda de la tecnología se trasmite ficción política,
se niega la verdad y todo queda reducido a espectáculo y sentimiento. Por supuesto, la
Rusia de Putin habría sido la primera en adentrarse en la política de la eternidad. Según
Snyder, tanto la narrativa de lo inevitable como la narrativa de la eternidad son
especialmente efectivas a la hora de generar intolerancia hacia sus respectivos disidentes.

5.– El asedio de Occidente. Una buena parte de los esfuerzos de Moscú en esta batalla
contra la democracia liberal y el imperio de la ley pasa por cuestionar los valores, las
instituciones, las reglas del juego y hasta los mismos Estados que forman parte de
Occidente. Para hacer posible este asedio, los medios desplegados por Rusia no actúan
en la periferia sino dentro de Occidente aprovechando cualquier tipo de disputa política o
fractura social. En el memorial documentado por Snyder destaca el intenso respaldo de
Moscú a las manifestaciones del nacional-populismo multiplicadas por toda Europa; la
invasión y desmembramiento de Ucrania en 2014; el cuestionamiento de la Unión Europea
y la manipulación de la opinión pública de cara al referéndum del Brexit en 2016; y por
supuesto la ciberguerra librada en Estados Unidos durante las últimas elecciones
presidenciales que dieron la victoria a Donald Trump. En este sentido, el gran teórico
militar prusiano Carl von Clausewitz definió la guerra como el uso de la violencia para
imponer la voluntad de un Estado sobre otro. Según Snyder, la tecnología está permitiendo
“enfrentarse a la voluntad del enemigo directamente, sin el medio de la violencia”.

6.– Un fracaso americano.
El libro de Snyder insiste en que la victoria de Trump es un
fracaso muy de Estados Unidos convertido en una victoria para el Kremlin. La elección de
este líder fake, junto al descrédito de Hillary Clinton, no se entiende sin las múltiples
injerencias de Rusia concentradas, sobre todo, en el campo de batalla digital pero no
solamente. Según Snyder, “el dinero ruso salvó a Trump del destino que normalmente
aguarda a cualquiera con su historial de fracaso”. Para Vladimir Putin, la gracia no está en
controlar al presidente de Estados Unidos. La clave es cuestionar y desacreditar el sistema
democrático de Estados Unidos. Las democracias favoritas del Kremlin son las más
viciadas. Y lo que está haciendo Putin dentro y fuera de Estados Unidos no sería más que
un ajuste de cuentas por intentar contagiar a la sagrada Rusia con ideas tan nocivas como
la democracia liberal o los derechos humanos. Con todo, la gran preocupación de Snyder es que lentamente antes de Trump –y rápidamente con Trump en la Casa Blanca– Estados
Unidos se parece cada vez más a Rusia: un país encaminado hacia la oligarquía
económica y la información distorsionada.