Stories written by Mario Soares
Mario Soares was president of Portugal from 1986-1996

CABO VERDE LOOKS TOWARDS EUROPE

The European Union, which has constantly expanded towards the East, should now turn its sights to the West and look positively on the desire of the government of Cape Verde to find a way of integrating with the European Union, writes Mario Soares, ex-prime minister and ex-president of Portugal. In this article,Soares writes that the archipelago is turning into a prime tourist destination with modern hotel facilities and an appealing climate even in winter, affable people, and high quality dance and folklore. It is not surprising that European tourists find Cape Verde enchanting. The current president, Pedro Pires, an outstanding anti-colonialist warrior, respected politician, and consummate negotiator, recently stated, \"I want my country to gradually grow closer to the European Union in order to find new ways to guarantee development and security.\"

ONLY GLOBAL SOLUTIONS CAN TACKLE GLOBAL PROBLEMS

The world, and the West in particular, are passing through a period of transition and profound insecurity which is manifesting itself in every sphere and makes the near future impossible to predict, writes Mario Soares, ex-president and ex-prime minister of Portugal. In this article, Soares writes that the major problems facing the world are still not receiving a global response, which could come only in the form of a major restructuring of the UN and the Security Council. The G8 club of rich nations lacks legitimacy to serve as a pilot for the world. There is, thus, a major vacuum in the world order. The world order is once again multilateral. The American empire as such is on the way to disappearing. Solutions to the problems that the world faces do not depend only on the West (Europe and the US), as was thought at the beginning of this century, but on others as well: the so-called emerging powers -Russia, China, India, and Brazil- as well as Japan, Mexico, South Africa, Iran, Egypt, and Turkey. The West must understand that it has to negotiate with these countries and participate in the reform of the UN.

PARALLEL LIVES : THE DALAI LAMA AND ANDREI SAKHAROV

The Dalai Lama has returned to centre stage because of the recent and now quelled uprising of the Tibetans against Chinese domination and the brutal response of the government in Beijing. This was a grave error on China\'s part, to say the least, just as it is preparing to host the 2008 Olympic games, writes Mario Soares, ex- president and ex-prime minister of Portugal. In this article , Soares writes that the Dalai Lama responded from Dharamsala, his place of exile, with his customary firmness, accusing China of \'\'cultural genocide\'\', an expression that has succeeded in stirring consciences across the planet. The rhetorical response of the Beijing government was to accuse him of provoking the riots in the hope of creating difficulties for China. The Dalai Lama calmly responded that as a pacifist he does not believe that the problem of Tibet can be solved with force, but rather through dialogue. Watching the Dalai Lama speak these words on television, I was reminded of an experience I had when I visited political dissident Andrei Sakharov, another Nobel Peace Prize laureate (1975), during an official visit I made as President of Portugal to what was still the Soviet Union. After I signalled to him that there were probably hidden microphones in the room where we met, he answered calmly, \'\'It doesn\'t matter, they know everything that I think. We\'re already used to it.\'\' Afterwards we spoke freely about everything we wished. The brutal intimidation and force had no effect on the civic conscience of Sakharov.

EUROPE: THE WORLD FINANCIAL CRISIS AND THE DECLINE OF THE LEFT

The neo-liberal system is broken. Capitalism must be moved past this phase of speculation and \"casino economy\" to a form of ethical capitalism that respects the environment and the concerns of society, writes Mario Soares, ex-president and ex-prime minister of Portugal. In this article, Soares calls for a reclaiming of the ethics which were always the hallmark of the left. Civic participation must be increased to counter the weakness of the state, bolster social justice, and oppose the commercialisation of society, corruption, and influence peddling. The activists must resume the fight for peace and the peaceful resolution of conflicts, for social integration, and against inequality and environmental degradation. Most clearly put, the present crisis, which has discredited politics as a whole, was caused by the dealings of economic pressure groups, the immorality of the banking and business elite, and influence peddling by political leaders -in short, by the promiscuous intermingling of politics and business. The conclusion to be drawn in inescapable: the system is corrupt and must be changed, This is the great task facing the European left.

SILENCE FROM THE NEOLIBERAL CHOIR

Where have all the neoliberals gone? A few months ago they were clamouring relentlessly for \"less government\"and \"more privatisation\", no government intervention, no ethical rules, and even fewer public services. For them the paramount goals were cutting taxes and letting the market work its magic without interference of any kind, writes Mario Soares, ex-president and ex-prime minister of Portugal. In this analysis, the author writes that American capitalism in its financial-speculative phase, guided by neoliberal ideology and fortified by the collapse of the communist regimes, carried the US up to the gates of financial catastrophe and economic recession. Now its negative effects have spread across Europe and are beginning to poison the rest of the planet. Will the US Treasury plan stabilise the American economy or only provide short-term relief? The means adopted by various countries and the subsequent reactions of the economic actors have generated little more than violent fluctuations and instability, and thus it is not yet possible to answer this question. However, there can be no doubt that a long-term solution would have to go much farther, beginning with reform of the financial-speculative sector through regulation and controls, a crackdown on tax havens, the introduction of strict ethical norms and social and environmental goals, and finally, as French president Sarkozy said, \"Those responsible for causing this crisis should be put in jail\".

NO WORLD PEACE WITHOUT RELIGIOUS TOLERANCE

In principle, religion is against violence, yet historically intolerance has reigned, and without tolerance and respect for those who are different, conflict and war are inevitable. Thus it was in the past and probably will be so in the future unless there is a revolution in the thinking of religions and dialogue and peaceful co-existence prevail, writes Mario Soares, ex-President and ex-Prime Minister of Portugal, and President of the Commission for Religious Freedom of Portugal. In this article, Soares writes that we have a moral duty to fight against all forms of violence and to build a global culture of peace. Violence is harmful for religions, in the short term and the long term, as well as to relations between believers and non-believers, who necessarily live together in our modern societies. A world without violence could be our magnificent utopia of the 21st century - if we were able control the myriad forms of violence that daily enter our homes through the television, movies, and the Internet and if all religions were convinced that the fight for peace, for human rights, and respect for those who are different was the best way to express the love for God.

GLOBALISATION: NEW CHALLENGES OF AN ANCIENT PHENOMENON

It is a commonplace today to say that the policies of President Bush have resulted in total disaster both domestically and abroad. This is the opinion not only outside of the country but also of a sizeable majority of Americans as well, writes Mario Soares, former President and former Prime Minister of Portugal. In this analysis, Soares writes that meanwhile, the planet is in the grips of accelerating change. The nine emerging countries, in particular the so-called BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) represent uncontrollable forces in the context of the international order, which rapidly shifted from bi-polar to uni-polar and is now on the way to a multi-polar arrangement. This is the reality that the West must now accept if it wants to contribute to the establishment of a new global order. To achieve this, there must first be a restructuring of the UN to make it more democratic and more capable of intervening to address the major challenges facing humanity: addressing threats to the health of the planet, the eradication of poverty, fighting organised crime at the global level, regulating and guiding globalisation, and in general bringing about a system marked by greater justice, equality, and solidarity such that the future is more human and less fraught with conflict.

EUROPE MOVES FURTHER FROM ITS CITIZENS

The European Council met recently in Brussels to restart the European Union process, but the meeting was far from a success, writes Mario Soares, ex-president and ex-prime minister of Portugal. For a start, Soares writes in this analysis, they are putting into effect the previous treaties (which the Constitutional Treaty should replace) and two clauses that significantly alter the Treaty on European Union (TEU), which will now be called the Treaty on the Operation of the Union. The word \'\'constitution\'\' is now taboo and has been flatly banished from the two texts as if a curse. It is indefensible that European governments, out of fear and shallowness, are opposed to assuming a European identity. Federalism, as understood in the old Constitutional Plan, simply disappears. If this is the case, how will it be possible to stimulate and develop a real European citizenship? The gap between European citizens and institutions has broadened considerably. This is a dramatic shift the negative consequences of which will be felt very soon. Meanwhile all the European states know --however much they may deny it-- that by themselves, whoever they are, including the largest, like Germany, they have neither the influence nor the size to compete successfully in today\'s globalised world. The European Political Union (with Turkey, of course) is indispensable and represents the most original and promising political project of the 20th century for the 21st century, and one day it will eclipse short-sighted nationalist egoism and win over certain European politicians.

PORTUGAL RISING

Two years after the formation of the socialist government headed by Jose Socrates, Portugal is on the verge of overcoming the financial crisis that has beset it for six years -- and as a result, the right-wing opposition --divided and without a leader-- is furiously attacking both the government and the Socialist Party (PS), writes Mario Soares, ex-president and ex-prime minister of Portugal. In this article, Soares writes that the opposition fears that having successfully completed the unpopular but necessary task of cutting the budget deficit, the Socrates administration would move ahead with its programme of major progressive reforms designed to reduce the social inequalities that shame us and call attention to the social role of the state. Socrates passed reforms to simplify the bureaucracy and imposed profound changes in social security, health care, education, and justice. And he turned around the negative growth trend: in 2003, the last year of the conservative government that preceded Socrates\', the economy shrank by 0.5 percent. Currently it is growing at 1.3 percent.

THE EUROPEAN UNION MUST PRESS FORWARD

On July 1, Portugal will for the third time assume the presidency of the European Union at a time of considerable confusion and uncertainty for the European project as well as a time of major world crisis, writes Mario Soares, ex-president and ex-prime minister of Portugal. In this article Soares argues that those member states that do not want to go further can stay as they are, but they should not keep others who want to move forward from doing so. This was the solution applied regarding the adoption of the euro and the Schengen Treaty. We could also create forms of reinforced co-operation or return to the theory of concentric circles that Mitterand spoke of and that now excites the Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt. What we cannot allow to happen is a prolongation of the institutional paralysis that has persisted for two years now and that threatens to break apart the union and rob it of its power of attraction. Europe together with US democrats should intervene to extract the West from the major impasse it was led into by the blindness of the neo-conservatives --Jewish and Evangelical-- that are behind Bush. This must be done by the end of 2007, since 2008 is the year of the next US presidential election. This is the right moment for a small country like Portugal, during its EU presidency, with common sense, political courage, and the help of its allies, to play a historic role.

WASHINGTON: A DEAD END

\'\'Will there continue to be just one superpower?\'\', asks Mario Soares, ex-president and ex-prime minister of Portugal. In this article, Soares writes that September 11 showed the world the vulnerability of the US \'\'empire\'\' in an absolutely unforeseeable way. Is the US about to attack Iran, albeit through its proxy Israel? In the UN Security Council a \'\'No\'\' front has emerged, spurred on by Russia and China. Russian president Vladimir Putin allows himself to openly criticise Bush\'s policy, choosing to do so in the German city of Munich for the greatest resonance. China, as usual, continues to advance its expansionist policy, with such vast foreign reserves in US Treasury bonds --and dollars-- that it could at any moment wreak havoc on the US economy. The various countries of Latin America --from the most radical to the reformists, and including pseudo-allies like Colombia-- are in the process of gradually escaping, for the first time, from the control of their giant cousin to the North.

EUROPE MUST REACT

The world remains dangerous and exasperating in this first phase of 2007. Violence in its many manifestations continues to dominate daily life on every continent, as consumerism, even in extremely poor and disadvantaged countries, is expanding, and with it irresponsibility, the loss of values, corruption at every level, and a mode of life in the mere present, without reference to the past or a path forward into the future, writes Mario Soares, ex-president and ex-prime minister of Portugal. In this analysis Soares writes that global public opinion, the universal awareness of the threats that hang over our planet, and the international disorder that has taken root and proliferated before our very eyes, are beginning to seriously worry the people on every continent. The war in Iraq, which sharply divided the conscience of the world, finally dealt an irreversible shock to US public opinion. President Bush, now on the defensive on the domestic front, seems intent on driving forward with the war in Iraq and hopes to send more troops. Nothing has changed in his belligerent stance towards Afghanistan, Syria, Lebanon, Iran, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is to be hoped that the US Congress, responsive to American opinion, will be able to block his plans and set out a new foreign policy to restore the lost credibility of the US in the world.

THE WEST AND ISLAM

The scourge of global terrorism is calling into question what remains of the world order, writes Mario Soares, ex-president and ex-prime minister of Portugal. In this article, Soares writes that because of its unpredictability, no one knows when or where it will strike next. The fight against terrorism is therefore a moral and ethical imperative of the first order and must not be neglected by responsible governments. The fight against terrorism must not be seen as a \'\'war\'\' --and certainly not a \'\'preventive war-- between the West and Islam. Because the simplification of the concepts of West and Islam is reductive, dangerous, and ultimately false to the extent that it fails to take into account the complexity of the values they represent, it induces us to commit gross errors (many have already occurred) and would gradually drag us unwittingly into a religious war, which would be a colossal setback for civilization and the worst possible outcome.

EU CONSTITUTION: GOOD FOR EUROPE AND THE WORLD

A \"No\" vote on the EU Constitution would not be a mere pause in the path forward but a giant step backwards, desired only by those who always wanted a Europe that was no more than a free-trade area, writes Mario Soares, President of Portugal from 1986-1996. In this article, Soares argues that rejection would introduce a tremendous risk of disintegration and spell the end of a political, social, and environmentally-committed Europe. Worse, it would mean the rejection of the EU as a \'\'global power\'\', a counterweight in European-US relations able to resist efforts at imperial hegemony by forces that consider the UN just a stumbling block. The hawks who advise George W. Bush would certainly be pleased by a \"No\" win. The \"No\" forces, in France and elsewhere, are a contradictory mix. Many are inspired by nationalistic notions. There are leftists and communists guided by immediate and ideological criteria. Then there are the neo-conservatives, ultraconservatives, economic neo-liberals, and religious fanatics. And among the French socialists, who are divided on the constitution, the group headed by ex-prime minister Laurent Fabius is for a \"No\" vote with the idea of using the referendum as a means of protesting the centre-right government of Jacques Chirac. All are partisans of the notion that \"the worse things are, the better they are\", which historically has tended to backfire on those who live by it.

PORTUGAL: THE CARNATIONS ARE BLOOMING AGAIN

When the Portuguese Socialist Party and its leader, Jose Socrates, take office on March 12, they will assume a tremendous burden of responsibilities.The country\'s crisis is profound, has many different ramifications, and cannot be resolved magically by a fortunate election, writes Mario Soares, former president of Portugal. I expect that the new prime minister will take advantage of his first days in office to make a clear break with the past, giving clear signs that he grasps the hopes and expectations of the voters. He must make it understood in word and deed that Portugal will be ruled by the government selected by popular vote and backed by the majority of the Assembly of the Republic -- and not by the main economic powers or corporations or lobbies which seek only to use the government for their own ends.

HUMAN RIGHTS: A SAD ANNIVERSARY

For us in the 21st century, the fundamental reference for human rights is the Universal Declaration approved by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948, writes Mario Soares, president of Portugal from 1986-1996. In this article, Soares writes,\'\'The world is awash in fundamentalism, by which I mean not only the Islamic variety but others as well: the evangelical fundamentalism of the United States which is on the rise in Africa and Latin America and has immense financial resources; and the orthodox Hebrew fundamentalism whose fundamental priority seems to be liquidation of the Palestinian state.\'\' In addition to these \'\'religious\'\' fundamentalisms, we must add market fundamentalism, the engine behind the globalisation without ethics that now dominates the planet and divides it between the rich and the poor, marginalising two-thirds of humanity. Whatever their differences, these fundamentalisms are alike in that they are destroying the world order grounded in the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which, for better or worse, animates our dream of equality of all people regardless of race, religion, or social conditions.

FANATICISM IN THE WHITE HOUSE

George W. Bush is a political catastrophe both for the US and for the world, writes Mario Soares, president of Portugal from 1986-1996. In the US we find the predomination of an uncompassionate conservatism, an inclination for retaliation and violence, disregard for human rights, unilateralism, religious fanaticism, irrationalism, and a blind drive to combat terrorism that does not seek to eradicate its many and complex causes, among which poverty and humiliation stand out in clear need of redress. In Europe, on the other hand, we have the cult of rationality and dialogue, multilateralism and respect for the United Nations, laicism, tolerance, and giving priority to human rights and sustainable development with social and ecological dimension. This is the gap that today separates us. If we do not have the courage to state the truth, sooner rather than later we will begin to slip towards the abyss the US is now headed for, surrounded by hatred and incomprehension, as its social fabric grows increasingly brittle and trapped in the quagmire of Iraq.

NEVER NEGOTIATE WITH TERRORISTS?

Global terrorism represents an absolute horror which must be fought with the greatest determination, courage, and force, but it must also be fought with intelligence, information, and knowledge, writes Mario Soares, president of Portugal between 1986-1996. In this analysis, the author argues that military force is necessary but not sufficient. To deal with this new and complex phenomenon born of Islamic fanaticism, we must consider other components, including the profound humiliation by the West felt by the populations that have been permeated by terrorism, and the socio-economic conditions they live under. Regarding the Bush strategy, it is worth asking whether it is true, as is often repeated, that democracies don\'t negotiate with terrorists? History is full of examples to the contrary, including two from the past year involving Bush and the UK and Libya and North Korea. Soares calls for a dialogue with Islamic scientists, theologians, intellectuals, and political scientists as the correct way to begin negotiations -- though from a position of strength, noting that negotiation does not mean capitulation, much less abdication.

SPAIN, NOT IRAQ, PROVIDES MODEL FOR FIGHTING TERRORISM

President elect Zapatero\'s intention to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq unless the UN takes over is both logical and coherent, writes Mario Soares, President of Portugal from 1986-1996. In this article, Soares writes that brute force alone cannot defeat terrorism. We must study its causes and understand the reasons for its influence over desperate and humiliated populations. The March 11th attacks demonstrate that global terrorism still has resources and can broaden its scope of action. Those who believed that \'\'the war on terror\'\', to use Bush\'s phrase, could be won by defeating and occupying Iraq and, later, by capturing Saddam Hussein are unable of explaining what just happened. The fact that today\'s world is interdependent means that we are all responsible. Solidarity and social justice cannot remain mere words. As ever, everything depends on whether we decide to improve the troubled world in which we have to live. Zapatero\'s victory reinforces those who are working for peace, social justice, dialogue, human rights, and international law. This is the way to fight terrorism.

NEOLIBERALISM HAS FAILED

Neoliberalism, the economic dogma that has been the rage for the last few years, has clearly failed to solve the world\'s problems, writes Mario Soares, president of Portugal from 1986-1996. Whether in the US, Europe, or Japan, or particularly in emerging economies, the sanctification of the market, particularly as practised in the 1990s, gave what it had to give and sank the world into what Nobel economist Joseph Stiglitz described as \'\' the first major planetary crisis of globalisation\'\' , Soares writes in this analysis. Especially in the Third World, the free market, when untempered by any governmental regulation, leads to the creation of deep social injustices, systematically refuses to respond to the undeniable ecological needs of our day, and in the current phase of speculative capitalism has led to grave vices, as seen today in the scandals of Enron, Vivendi, etc. Bush has crowed that since the invasion of Iraq \'\'the world is much safer\'. All we need now is for him to abandon Iraq to its sad chaos and the world to an unprecedented economic crisis. Speculator-philanthropist George Soros was right to commit a large sum to the fight against Bush\'s re-election.

TERRORISM: FIGHT THE ROOT CAUSES OR FIGHT FOREVER

Hopefully President Bush and Prime Minister Blair in their summit talks in London will realise the need to attack the root causes of terrorism, writes Kaare Willoch, former leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister of Norway from 1981 to 1986. In this article, the author cites former US president Bill Clinton who, during a recent visit to Oslo, asserted that \'\'in a world where it is impossible for us to occupy, capture, or conquer whoever aims to harm us, we need to work harder to achieve a world with more friends and fewer terrorists\'\'. And Ami Ayalon, former head of Israel\'s security service Shin Bet: \'\'Those who want \'victory\' against terror without addressing the underlying grievances want an unending war.\'\' One cannot expect non-Westerners to consider it more a more heroic act to bomb Palestinian homes from airplanes than to blow oneself up. US-financed missiles and shells are inflicting a much higher death toll on innocent civilians. It is only natural that many outside the West believe that we oppose only certain forms of violence and condone other far more lethal ones by ourselves and our allies.

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