Archive for the ‘International Relations’ Category


The enemy within

Written on January 7, 2016 by Susana Torres Prieto in IE Humanities Center, International Relations

susanaBy Susana Torres Prieto, Professor of Humanities at IE University and IE Business School. 

Only a few months ago, almost coinciding with the concession of the Nobel Literary prize to Svetlana Alexievich, the world was remembering once again the assassination of Anna Politkovskaya, whose tenth anniversary will be marked this coming year 2016. Rereading one of her last books, Putin’s Russia, which in fact was published in the United Kingdom and in English in 2004, three years before appearing in Russian in Russia, one realizes, in retrospective, a few important factors, and inevitably wonders what she would say of current Russian and European politics.

The first thing that catches the eye is that this almost posthumous book was a warning. At a time, 2004, when the West was enchanted and immensely pleased with the new Russian leader, Politkovskaya, whose assassination, by the way, was committed on Vladimir Putin’s birthday, was already saying that, beneath that enchanting figure, was a cold-hearted secret agent who only knew one way of ruling, imposing silence and fear as any KGB agent was trained to do, someone who would rather be efficacious and effective than remembered for respecting human rights conventions.

The second aspect is that her criticism stems from indignation accumulated at watching Russian people suffering at the hands of their own state, particularly young men in the army. It is an indignation parallel to the one suffered by Chekhov when he visited the penal colony in the island of Sakhalin. An indignation that constantly cries out ‘why does our government care so little for its own people’, those Poor Folk who were granted the rank of protagonists by Dostoyevsky and were satirized by Chekhov himself.

One thing that Politkovskaya was certainly pursuing, and in this she coincides with the Nobel laureate Alexievich, was opening the eyes of Russians and the whole wide world , showing to them that things were being done tremendously wrong by their own authorities, as she has always done in criticizing, among other things, the Second Chechen War. And for doing so they both chose a similar path: giving voice of those that were silenced, hushed, isolated. Our shared concern with free press stems from the firm belief that access to free and contrasted information necessarily contributes to creating an informed public opinion which will held their authorities accountable for their acts. Unfortunately, reality shows, in Russia and elsewhere, that that is not always the case. For someone who never ceased to ask them to open their eyes to the evidence, Politkovskaya might have been surprised to see the current level of acceptance amongst Russians of President Putin’s policies, despite his public requests for economic sacrifices and unpopular measures to come, due mainly, though not solely, to the extremely low price of oil, a crucial fact for a heavily oil-dependent economy like Russia’s. Pilar Bonet, El País correspondent in Moscow, was informing a few days ago that, in the battle between fridges and television sets, as some analysts would put it, television sets were currently on the lead. In a nutshell, Russians prefer to live in worse economic conditions but being assured that they are a great country.

Propaganda is an astonishing tool, more powerful than any numbers of analysts and academics might imagine, and it has little or nothing to do with reason. Maybe the flaw in the argument is that, despite more or less open access to information, availability and accessibility to Internet, at the end of the day, people choose to believe. Those with unlimited confidence in human reason are heart-broken when they see people just decide to ignore, for political, religious or any other reason, what reason tells them, or should be telling them, in exchange of confidence, security or any other unattainable utopia. Per ardua ad astra, the ancients used to say. Indeed.


IE Humanities Center is glad to announce that during the Spring Semester will organize a cycle of conferences entitled “Russia: Past and Present” directed by Humanities Professor Susana Torres and hosted by IE University.

Recent events have underlined the relevance of Russia in global politics and economy. The present seminar aims at presenting to students and members of the academic community several aspects of the recent past and current reality of Europe’s biggest neighbour. Likewise, the cycle aims at transcending traditional borders of academic disciplines, since it is understood as a mosaic of interrelated topics that will provide the students with a deeper understanding of past events and future challenges in this part of the world.

Program of lectures

Thursday, January 28th 2016, 6 pm
Prof. Catriona Kelly (University of Oxford) and Pilar Bonet (correspondent of El País in Russia)
Visions and Narratives

Thursday, February 18th 2016, 6 pm
Álvaro Ortiz Vidal-Abarca (Chief Economist Cross Country Emerging Markets at BBVA)
New Players in a Global Economy

Thursday , March 3rd 2016, 6 pm
Prof. Simon Franklin (University of Cambridge) and Prof. Pierre Gonneau (Sorbonne Paris IV)
The Historical Ghosts

Thursday, April 21st 2016, 6 pm
Jaime Dezcallar (Film Director)
Montage and Emotion

Date to be appointed
Ambassador Francisco Javier Elorza
Integration and National policies

If you wish to attend please register here


Chers Membres de la Communauté IE,

Au nom de toute notre institution, je voudrais exprimer notre profonde solidarité avec nos amis Français en ces moments d’intense tristesse. Nous condamnons le terrorisme sous toutes ses formes et resterons fermes et unis face à ceux qui menacent nos valeurs. Aujourd’hui nous nous sentons tous Parisiens et nous envoyons nos sincères condoléances à tous ceux qui souffrent les effets de ces attaques barbares.

Avec mes salutations les plus chaleureuses,
Arantza de Areilza
IE School of International Relations

Dear Members of the IE Community,

On behalf of us all, I would like to express our deepest solidarity with our French friends in these moments of profound sorrow. We condemn all forms of terrorism and will stand firm and united against those who challenge our most cherished social values. We all feel Parisians today and would like to extend our deepest condolences to those who are suffering the effects of these barbaric attacks.

With my warmest regards,
Arantza de Areilza
IE School of International Relations

Queridos Miembros de la Comunidad del IE,

En nombre de todos, quiero expresar nuestra solidaridad con nuestros amigos Franceses en estos momentos de profundo pesar. Condenamos todas las formas de terrorismo y seremos firmes frente a aquéllos que ponen en peligro nuestros valores sociales más queridos. Todos nos sentimos Parisinos hoy y enviamos nuestra condolencia más sentida a todos los que sufren los efectos de estos ataques bárbaros.

Con todo cariño,
Arantza de Areilza
IE School of International Relations


The Slaughter of the Innocents

Written on July 20, 2015 by Susana Torres Prieto in International Relations

susanaBy Susana Torres Prieto, Professor of Humanities at IE University and IE Business School.

Last Friday, a very sad anniversary was commemorated without ceremonies. Last year, on July 17th, a lost missile ended abruptly the life of the passengers flying over the Ukraine in a plane of Malaysian Airlines. Although partial enquiries have been carried out, nobody has been made accountable or taken to court. The sad and painful truth is that nobody probably will, not now, not ever. The eastern part of Ukraine is in the hands of warlords, all of them with a dubious record who were quickly armed and are now impossible to dismantle. It is Yugoslavia, yet again.

About a year and a half ago, people were following the events in Kiev as they were quickly developing. The whole script of events, yet again. Protests, saviours from abroad, riots, murder, saviours from within, promises from the international community, assurances from the international community, and finally, a war, yet again.

After a few months, the conflict grew old, other news broke in other parts of the world, and the conflict in the Ukraine is on the way of becoming one of those forgotten conflicts that seem to linger in limbo until something else happens. In the case of Ukraine, this point of stagnation has arrived maybe sooner than expected, but it has arrived anyway. I was asked in a seminar back in December last year if I thought that the war in Ukraine was going to end up soon. I replied that, if the first winter passed without a solution, the end would take much longer to come. I hate being right.

It is not only that the weather might be a definitive element of war in that part of the world, as Napoleon and Hitler could see for themselves, it is also a question that there is no money or will to carry out the campaign further. The government of President Poroshenko is economically exhausted, President Putin obtained long ago what he wanted, the Crimea, and the warlords theoretically ruling eastern Ukraine hardly agree on anything apart from defending their own interests. In the meantime, the industry, concentrated precisely in that part of the country, does not bring any revenue to Kiev to invest in carrying the conflict to a definitive point of resolution. Will Russia bother to bring a proper army to the east of Ukraine to settle the conflict? Hardly. Will

NATO intervene in favour of Kiev? Hardly. In the meantime, Ukrainians struggle every day to get by, just to get by, in a country that is only poorer and more broken as time goes by. Did people foresee when they went to the Maidan in all good faith that this was going to be the final outcome of their legitimate protests? Hardly.

It is unlikely that those responsible for the attack to the plane of Malaysian airlines will ever be sentenced at court, but it is even more unlikely that those responsible of bringing a country to tatters following their own personal interests will ever be held accountable for doing so. If the final, and more likely, solution is to be a partition of the Ukraine into two separate states, we can only hope that it would come before another long winter unfolds.


¿nos estamos enterando?

Written on June 29, 2015 by Administrador de IE Blogs in International Relations

haizamPor Haizam Amirah Fernández, profesor asociado de Humanidades en IE Business School.

Ayer fue un viernes negro asociado a la bandera negra del Daesh (la organización autoproclamada “Estado Islámico”). Hubo un ataque -con decapitación incluida- en Francia, una matanza en una mezquita chií de Kuwait, asaltos a dos hoteles de turistas en Túnez y las habituales salvajadas contra civiles en lo que queda de Siria, Irak, Yemen, Libia y Somalia.

Como resultado, decenas de muertos inocentes en tres continentes. Personas con orígenes muy distintos, pero con un rasgo en común: quienes los asesinaron ya los habían deshumanizado siguiendo una interpretación extremista, intolerante y sectaria del islam. A los matones de ayer les dio igual que muchas de sus víctimas fueran musulmanas o personas que no habían hecho daño a nadie. Sus ideólogos de cabecera les repiten a través de pantallas y de sermones que su obligación es eliminar a los infieles. Esos ideólogos difunden su doctrina macabra con impunidad y muchos cuentan con generosos recursos puestos a su disposición (dinero, espacios físicos y virtuales, cadenas de TV vía satélite, etc.).

Que nadie se lleve a engaños: el epicentro ideológico de quienes decapitan en Francia, bombardean una mezquita chií en Kuwait y matan turistas en Túnez está en la Península Arábiga. Aquellos que llevan décadas amparando y financiando una versión ultrapuritana, intolerante y misógina del islam han creado monstruos. El problema es que a esos monstruos se les permite crecer y expandirse hasta que acaban fuera de control. Se tornan incluso en una amenaza para quienes los criaron. Por el camino sólo dejan destrucción, odio y polarización.

La victoria de los extremistas consiste en crear un mundo más caótico y menos seguro para todos. Para ello necesitan realizar acciones con un alto impacto emocional, que provoquen gran repulsa moral y que tengan amplia difusión en los medios convencionales y en redes sociales. El desconocimiento, las fobias y las reacciones viscerales se encargan de ahondar en la polarización y sembrar más odio. Ese es el terreno en el que los extremistas ven avanzar sus proyectos. Y no les están yendo mal.

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