Relaciones Internacionales – Comunicación Internacional

25 mayo, 2020
por Felipe Sahagún
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El cisne negro y la crisis del Covid-19… (Juan Leña)

Por Embajador Juan Leña, Pte de Honor de Cátedra China


El 28 de enero de este año, el BBVA enviaba a algunos de sus clientes y accionistas una Nota Especial con un título sugestivo y brillante, pero más propio de un thriller que de un análisis de coyuntura de una entidad financiera: «Un cisne negro acaba con la complacencia”. Un cisne negro, según la formulación del profesor Nassim N. Taleb, es un acontecimiento imprevisible que tiene gran impacto y que, por su propia naturaleza, nunca está presente en los escenarios de los agentes económicos.

Así se describía en la Nota del BBVA al Covid-19: “el nuevo brote infeccioso chino, provocado por un virus, que ocasiona una enfermedad parecida a la neumonía, que ya se ha extendido a cuatro continentes y que ha matado a unas ochenta personas, entraría dentro de la definición de cisne negro, ya que estamos hablando de un factor de riesgo desconocido, cuyo impacto no había sido descontado por los mercados financieros”. Continuar leyendo →

24 mayo, 2020
por Felipe Sahagún
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Prophets, guessers, forecasters and analysts (NYT)



Dr. Lilla is a professor of humanities at Columbia

The best prophet, Thomas Hobbes once wrote, is the best guesser. That would seem to be the last word on our capacity to predict the future: We can’t.

But it is a truth humans have never been able to accept. People facing immediate danger want to hear an authoritative voice they can draw assurance from; they want to be told what will occur, how they should prepare, and that all will be well. We are not well designed, it seems, to live in uncertainty. Rousseau exaggerated only slightly when he said that when things are truly important, we prefer to be wrong than to believe nothing at all.

The history of humanity is the history of impatience. Not only do we want knowledge of the future, we want it when we want it. The Book of Job condemns as prideful this desire for immediate attention. Speaking out of the whirlwind, God makes it clear that he is not a vending machine. He shows his face and reveals his plans when the time is ripe, not when the mood strikes us. We must learn to wait upon the Lord, the Bible tells us. Good luck with that, Job no doubt grumbled.

When the gods are silent, human beings take things into their own hands. In religions where the divine was thought to inscribe its messages in the natural world, specialists were taught to take auspices from the disposition of stars in the sky, from decks of cards, dice, a pile of sticks, a candle flame, a bowl of oily water, or the liver of some poor sheep. With these materials, battles could be planned, plagues predicted and bad marriages avoided.

In those places where the gods were thought to communicate verbally with humans, oracles and prophets were designated to provide answers on demand. The most highly revered oracles in the ancient Greek world were the high priestesses at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. When it came time to respond to a petitioner who had placed a question before her, the priestess would enter the inner sanctum and seat herself on a tripod erected over a crevice in the ground, out of which inebriating gases were thought to rise.

These fumes paralyzed her rational faculties and put her in a trance of receptivity that allowed the god Apollo to speak through her in cryptic remarks and riddles. These would be interpreted by a second figure, the prophet, who answered the grateful petitioner in poetry or prose. It was a very successful start-up and made Delphi a wealthy town.

Prophets today are less flamboyant. Former prime ministers do not, as a rule, sniff drugs before appearing on CNN. They sit meekly in the green room sipping mineral water before being called on to announce our fate. Augurs have given up on sheep livers and replaced them with big data and statistical modeling. The wonder is that we still cry out for their help, given that the future is full of surprises.

Professional forecasters know this about the future, which is why in the small print of their reports they lay out all the assumptions that went into the forecast and the degree of statistical confidence one might have in particular estimates, given the data and research methods used. But harried journalists and public officials don’t read or comprehend the footnotes, and with the public baying for information, they understandably pass on the most striking estimates just to get through the day.

Ancient augurs and prophets were in high-risk professions. When their predictions failed to materialize, many were executed by sovereigns or pulled apart by mobs. We see a bloodless version of this reaction today in the public’s declining confidence in both the news media and the government.

Take a banal example: snowstorms and school closings. A half century ago, when meteorological forecasting was less sophisticated, parents and children would not learn that classes were canceled until the storm began and it was announced on radio and television that very morning. We lived in harmless uncertainty, which for kids was thrilling. When snowflakes fell they even looked like manna from heaven.

Today, mayors and school superintendents, putting their faith in the meteorologists, routinely announce closings a day or more in advance. If the storm fails to arrive, though, they are sharply criticized by parents who lost a day of work or had to find day care. And if an unforeseen storm paralyzes the city, leaving streets unsalted and children stranded at school, the reaction is far worse. More than one mayor has lost a re-election bid because of failed prophecies, victim of our collective overconfidence in human foresight.



24 mayo, 2020
por Felipe Sahagún
0 Comentarios

US-China tensions escalate (Taiwan, WHO, Hong Kong…) -GPS

Fareed Zakaria@FareedZakaria

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What does the @WHO say to accusations by Pres. Trump & allies that it mishandled Covid-19 & was afraid to offend China? And as Trump threatens to pull funding, could it function w/o the US?
I asked one of the org’s top officials, Stewart Simonson, who leads its office in NYC.

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On China, Democrats are falling into a familiar trap: Republicans take a legitimate challenge & pump it up into a mortal danger, exaggerating the threat & accusing Dems of appeasement. Instead of standing their ground, Democrats get scared & join in the scare-mongering.

The changing nature of Chinese diplomacy. Unilateralism and a one-size-fits-all approach have replaced the Zhou and Deng strategy of persuasion and compromise.

Chinese diplomacy has taken a sharp turn, writes fmr Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale: 


Hong Kong police fired tear gas to disperse anti-government protesters as thousands thronged the streets to protest against Beijing’s plan to directly impose national-security laws on the city

From The Washington Post

24 mayo, 2020
por Felipe Sahagún
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Hiroshima after 75 years

Tinian, Northern Mariana Islands (CNN) — It’s a discolored concrete slab, molding in the tropical humidity. But on this slab, not much bigger than the footprint of a beach cabin, history changed.
What was once a doorway is obvious, as are the bases for a couple interior walls and an opening for a larger garage-like entrance.
I walk through the doorway, through the interior and out the garage. As I do, my guide puts these few steps in extraordinary perspective.
«You’re walking the path of the atomic bomb.»
This slab is where the atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki 75 years ago were put together. It’s the assembly point for the dawning of the atomic age.
Now it sits, essentially ignored, on the Pacific island of Tinian, from where the US Army Air Force B-29 bombers that performed those atomic strikes on Japan departed.

22 mayo, 2020
por Felipe Sahagún
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Challenges of Global Governance Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic


The novel coronavirus has infected millions, killed hundreds of thousands, and affected the well-being of billions more. The COVID-19 pandemic is a transnational threat that requires a global response, but the outbreak has laid bare divergent national approaches to managing global epidemiological interdependence and exposed broader structural weaknesses in the global governance system. Nationalist and inward-looking policies could lead to the loss of millions of lives and global economic disaster. The world needs national governments, regional organizations, and international institutions to act in the same cooperative spirit to effectively mitigate the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Challenges of Global Governance Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic paper series includes contributions from thirteen Council of Councils institutes. Eight of these papers consider the broader implications of the pandemic for international cooperation and the trajectory of the global system. The remaining five papers examine major gaps in the international management of global public health emergencies and propose reforms to increase the capacity of the multilateral system and national governments to better prevent and anticipate, detect, and respond to future pandemics.