Views editorial opinion

Except INDIA
International Herald Tribune
ALISON SMALE Executive Editor
DAVE SMITH Managing Editor
PHILIP McCLELLAN Deputy Managing Editor
URSULA LIU Deputy Managing Editor
KIRK KRAEUTLER Deputy Managing Editor
KATHERINE KNORR Assistant Managing Editor
TIM RACE Assistant Managing Editor
RICHARD BERRY Editor, Continuous News
SERGE SCHMEMANN Editor of the Editorial Page
PHILIPPE MONTJOLIN Senior Vice President, Operations
ACHILLES TSALTAS Senior Vice President, Innovation and Development
CHANTAL BONETTI Vice President, Human Resources
editorial opinion
Among the snipers of Aleppo
rebel brigades are
often at
cross purposes, creating a
The West
can’t do
much to
JEAN-CHRISTOPHE DEMARTA Vice President, International Advertising
CHARLOTTE GORDON Vice President, Marketing and Strategy
PATRICE MONTI Vice President, Circulation
RANDY WEDDLE Managing Director, Asia-Pacific
SUZANNE YVERNÈS Chief Financial Officer
Stephen Dunbar-Johnson, Président et Directeur de la Publication
The U.S. presidential candidates
remain evasive about the need for
effective and sane gun control laws.
It took an ordinary citizen, Nina Gonzalez, to stand up at the
presidential debate on Tuesday to raise what has been a
phantom issue on the campaign trail: the lack of effective gun
controls and any meaningful political discussion about this
crisis. Every year, more than 30,000 people are shot and
killed in the United States.
Ms. Gonzalez politely asked President Obama whatever
happened to his pledge four years ago to fight for renewal of
the ban on assault weapons. That ban, which prohibits the
manufacture of semiautomatic firearms for civilian use, was
put in place in 1994 and expired in 2004. It was a pledge that
Mr. Obama and his administration never made a priority despite the many horrific mass shootings during his term.
The current campaign is now focused on a handful of states
where mention of gun control is considered politically toxic.
At the debate, Mr. Obama said he wanted to get a ‘‘broader
conversation’’ going on reducing violence, and ‘‘part of it is
seeing if we can get an assault weapons ban reintroduced.’’
That kind of tepid talk will do nothing to push this crucial legislation through Congress.
Mitt Romney was far worse. As the recently anointed candidate of the National Rifle Association, he flatly opposes renewal of the assault weapons ban, even though as governor
of Massachusetts he signed a statewide ban in 2004 after the
federal 10-year ban lapsed. In the statehouse, Mr. Romney
unequivocally denounced the military-style weapons as ‘‘instruments of destruction with the sole purpose of hunting
down and killing people.’’
Both candidates tried lamely to connect various family,
school and social factors to the murders made easy by inadequate and nonexistent gun control laws. In truth, gun laws
are being loosened, not strengthened, by state legislatures.
Neither Mr. Obama nor Mr. Romney shows any interest in
discussing this threat to public safety. The scourge includes
4.5 million firearms sold annually in the nation and more than
one million people killed by guns in the past four decades. Research shows that among 23 populous, high-income nations,
80 percent of firearm deaths occurred in the United States,
where citizens suffer homicide rates 6.9 times higher than in
the other nations.
America needs sane and effective gun control policies, including the assault weapons ban, not political obfuscation.
Benjamin Hall
ANTAKYA, TURKEY In the Syrian city of
Aleppo, there are neighborhoods that
are almost entirely abandoned; blocks
of buildings with their facades blown
off, apartments open to the street; and
other buildings, intact but empty, their
curtains billowing out the windows.
Broken water pipes have turned roads
into debris-clogged rivers. And tribes of
cats stalk around like predators; every
now and then you pass one lying dead
on the ground, its body torn apart by
sniper fire.
The snipers, both rebel and regime,
are everywhere. The MIG jets are always overhead, and shelling continues
day and night. You cannot escape the
smell of dead bodies, and it feels as if it
is only a matter of time before you are
hit, too.
This is life on the ground for the remaining residents of Aleppo. With only
this in mind, it is easy to argue that the
West should intervene — arm the
rebels, help them overthrow the vicious
rule of the Assads, and try to create
something good from the chaos. After
all, the rebels are outgunned, outsupplied and outfinanced. They are battling a force that is aligned with Iran
and Hezbollah, and one that commits
daily atrocities.
And yet, all things considered, I can’t
argue for intervention in Aleppo, or in
the wider Syrian conflict.
For a few days in September, I was
embedded with the Ahrar al-Sham, or
Free Men, rebel faction in the city. These
men are fierce and battle-hardened.
They sit chatting or sleeping while
shells fall all around, and seem nonchalant while lobbing homemade bombs into
government compounds. Some taunt
the enemy. Others seem almost excited
to fire their guns — for them the conflict
is jihad, a badge of honor.
We sat with one rebel marksman as
he followed government soldiers
through his scope and laughed as he
shot at them. ‘‘My throat is full of victims,’’ he said.
But every couple of streets in Aleppo
is under the watch of a different brigade, and while they sometimes work
together, they are just as often at odds.
I have seen one brigade lay down
covering fire to allow another group to
retrieve the dead body of one of its
fighters, only to see the same two factions scream at each other later in the
day and refuse to cooperate in a battle
that did not benefit them both.
I have met some members of the Free
Syria Army who prefer to enter Aleppo
illegally rather than go through the
gate held by the Northern Storm Brigade, a strict Islamist group under the
umbrella of the F.S.A. ‘‘They’re not our
guys,’’ one explained.
In addition to great mistrust, there is
a general lack of leadership. The opposition coalition in exile, the National
Syrian Council, debates from Istanbul
but gets no respect from the fighters
on the ground. Last month, the leader
of the F.S.A., Riad al-Assad, announced
that he was moving his headquarters
to Syria in an attempt to unify the different battalions under his watch, but
rumors abound that he remains in Turkey. Other leaders who have tried to
command respect are defectors from
the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, and they are not often trusted.
Many of the rebels are fighting for a
noble cause, and have no motive beyond
protecting their homes and families.
But it is hard to pick them apart from
those who seek to take advantage of the
chaos to transform Syria into a Shariahbased fundamentalist state. In Aleppo, I
heard Salafi jihadists talk of slaying the
minority Alawites, and call for both the
immediate support of America, and its
immediate demise. These extremist
groups are getting weapons from Saudi
Arabia and Qatar already; they are not
groups that the West would choose to
arm. Compared with them, it is not clear
that Assad is the bigger foe.
It would be an error for the United
States and the European Union to supply arms to the rebels or intervene on
the ground. No one would be happier to
see America mired in the country than
Iran, which sees a chaotic Syria as the
next best thing to an allied Syria.
The most the West can do is impose a
no-fly zone under the auspices of NATO
to ground the government’s air force.
This would level the playing field, giving the rebels space to try to form a
more unified leadership near the Turkish border, while preventing the
slaughter of civilians and the destruction of more cities like Aleppo.
Since the rebels took over an air defense base near the city last week, this
seems to be an ever more feasible option. But it won’t be easy: no-fly zones
are hugely expensive, and Syria is no
Libya; its air defense system is far
more sophisticated.
And even with a no-fly zone, it’s hard
to see a way out of this quagmire. Turkey has been in discussions with the
rebels and the government about the
possibility of beginning a peace process, but it seems unlikely at this point
that the rebels will stop until they have
taken Damascus.
So for all the horrors on the ground, it
seems almost impossible that the
United States and Europe can do much
to help while the future is so blurred
and so bleak. As President Bill Clinton
once said, ‘‘Where our values and our
interests are at stake, and where we
can make a difference, we must act.’’
Despite what I have witnessed, I am
not convinced we can in Syria.
is a freelance journalist
who writes on conflict and the Middle
How to catch fish and save fisheries
Over-fishing is destroying a
major food
source. But
we have
not reached
a point of
no return.
We have
time. Solutions exist.
Global Opinion
Latitude: Gul unleashed
There seems to be little to block the Turkish prime
minister’s drive to become ever more powerful — except
perhaps his ally, the president, writes Andrew Finkel.
Top environmental ministers from
scores of countries all over the world
are meeting this week in Hyderabad,
India. Their goal: to reach agreement
on how to protect 10 percent of the
world’s ocean.
Actually, they had set that goal two
years ago under the Convention on Biological Diversity. You might be thinking, here we go again — easy to agree
on goals; hard to agree on how to meet
But it matters. The U.S. Commerce
Department just declared major fisheries in New England, Alaska and Mississippi a ‘‘disaster.’’ Another new study
found that Australia’s Great Barrier
Reef has lost half its coral since 1985.
British and French fishermen have
clashed as boats from Britain sailed into French waters on the hunt for scallops. But that bell tolls not just for the
fishermen — it tolls for us as well. Fish
are the primary source of protein for an
estimated one billion people around the
The journal Science recently published the first comprehensive analysis
of more than 10,000 fisheries — roughly
80 percent of our global fish catch. The
conclusion: fish populations worldwide
are swiftly declining. This global analysis paints a stark new picture of a
global ocean fished to exhaustion in an
increasingly hungry world.
So, why are we hopeful? It’s because
the analysis of global fisheries has a silver lining. We have not reached a point
of no return. We have time. Solutions
The good news is that many large
commercial fisheries are already benefiting from the improved management
of the last decade. The harder problem
is with smaller-scale fisheries that local
communities rely on for food and income. The fact is that small-scale fishers — who fish within 10 miles of their
coast — account for nearly half of the
world’s global catch and employ 33 million of the world’s 36 million fishermen,
while also creating jobs for 107 million
people in fish processing and selling.
Mostly poor, they live mainly in areas
lacking fisheries management, monitoring and enforcement. No one is in a
position to formally declare their fisheries ‘‘disasters.’’ They must just endure
their situation. Or — take control of it.
A rising tide of local communities is
doing just that. Here’s the emerging recipe proposed in that same Science
study: Give local fishers exclusive access to their fishing grounds in the form
of territorial use rights, or TURF.
In exchange for the privilege of exclusivity, local fishermen agree to establish and protect no-take zones. Results include increased fish populations,
richer marine habitats, and coastlines
less vulnerable to climate change —
and more food for people.
Unleashing the self-interest of local
fishermen to advance
both conservation
In exchange
and economic develfor the privopment can create
ilege of exone of those rare winclusivity, local
win scenarios.
A growing body of
research shows that
agree to esfish populations intablish and
side a no-take zone
protect nocan
more than quadtake zones.
ruple. Fish numbers
outside the reserve
can double. And, exclusive access enables investment and better management, increasing the catch’s value.
It works. We’ve visited several local
fisheries in Mexico and the Philippines
this year — with heads of leading research institutions, NGOs and government agencies — and in each case, we
witnessed increasing fish populations,
increased catch value and better-protected reefs.
TURF reserves are not a silver bullet.
They might, however, be the silver
buckshot. With nearly one billion
people reliant on the ocean for their
primary source of protein, stakes are
high. If the most fish-dependent nations
adopted widespread networks of TURF
Reserve, they can potentially create
enough fish recovery to feed hundreds
of millions of people.
That’s a big if, however. The solution
is not to fix a small number of fisheries.
We need thousands of TURF reserves
in dozens of countries just to get the
ball rolling. Ultimately, we need a commitment of governments, foundations,
NGOs and the private sector to forge a
major investment in near shore fisheries in the developing tropics. The
coastal communities themselves must
unfurl the ocean’s silver lining.
Protecting 10 percent of the world’s
oceans is no small task. TURF reserves
offer one solution to start us down that
path. But they are neither complicated
nor expensive. Clearly this problem —
and the opportunity — is bigger than all
of us. And there are a billion reasons for
us to act like it.
Federal subsidies also created a network of green tech corporations hoping to benefit from taxpayer dollars.
One of the players in this network was,
again, Al Gore. As Carol Leonnig reported in The Washington Post last
week, Gore left public office in 2001
Green tech
looks less like worth less than $2
million. Today his
a gleaming
wealth is estimated
beacon of
to be around $100
virtue and
Leonnig reports
more like
that 14 green tech
firms that Gore inwelfare.
vested in received or
directly benefited
from more than $2.5 billion in federal
loans, grants and tax breaks. Suddenly, green tech looks less like a
gleaming beacon of virtue and more
like corporate welfare, further enriching already affluent investors.
The federal agencies invested in
many winners, but they also invested
in some spectacular losers, from
Solyndra to the battery maker A123
Systems, which just filed for bankruptcy protection. Private investors
can shake off bad investments. But
when a political entity like the federal
government makes a bad investment,
the nasty publicity tarnishes the whole
The U.S. government wasn’t the
only one investing in renewables. Governments around the world were also
doing it, and the result has been gigantic oversupply, a green tech
bubble. Keith Bradsher of The New
York Times reported earlier this
month that China’s biggest solar panel
makers are suffering losses of up to $1
for every $3 in sales. Panel prices have
fallen by three-fourths since 2008.
Manufacturers will need huge subsidies far into the future — as Bradsher
writes, ‘‘a looming financial disaster.’’
The U.S. share of the global market,
meanwhile, has fallen from 7 percent
to 3 percent since 2008.
The biggest blow to green tech has
come from the marketplace itself.
Fossil fuel technology has advanced
more quickly than renewables technology. People used to worry that the
world would soon run out of oil, but few
worry about that now. Shale gas, meanwhile, has become the current hot, revolutionary fuel of the future.
Writing in Foreign Policy magazine,
Daniel Yergin projects that in 2030 the
worldwide fuel mix will not be too different than what it is today. That is,
there will be more solar and wind
power generated, but these sources will
still account for a small fraction of total
supply. Fossil fuels will still be the default fuel for decades ahead.
The Financial Post in Canada recently surveyed the gloom across the
clean energy sector. ‘‘Revenues from
renewable and alternative energy fell a
little more than 12 percent’’ in 2011, the
paper reported. Research and development spending on renewables is set to
decline next year, according to United
Nations figures, while the oil and gas
sector is investing a whopping $490 billion a year in exploration.
All in all, the once bright green future
is looking grimmer. Green tech is decidedly less glamorous, tarnished by
political and technological disappointments.
The shifting mood was certainly evident in the presidential debate this
week. Global warming was off the
radar. Meanwhile, President Obama
and Mitt Romney competed to see who
could most ardently support coal and
new pipelines. Obama is running radio
ads in Ohio touting his record as a coal
This is not where we thought we’d be
back in 2003.
Global warming is still real. Green
technology is still important. Personally, I’d support a carbon tax to give it a
boost. But he who lives by the subsidy
dies by the subsidy. Government planners should not be betting on what
technologies will develop fastest. They
should certainly not be betting on individual companies.
This is a story of overreach, misjudgments and disappointment.
Carl Safina
Brett Jenks
CARL SAFINA is founding president of the
Blue Ocean Institute at Stony Brook University, where he is an adjunct professor
in marine sciences. BRETT JENKS is the
president and chief executive of Rare, a
global conservation organization based
in Arlington, Virginia.
A sad green story
The period around 2003 was the golden
spring of green technology. John McCain and Joe Lieberman introduced a
bipartisan bill to curb global warming. I
got my first ride in a Prius from a conservative foreign policy hawk who said
that these new technologies were going
to help us Americans end our dependence on Middle Eastern despots. You’d
go to Silicon Valley and all the venture
capitalists, it seemed, were rushing into
clean tech.
From that date on the story begins to
get a little sadder.
International Herald Tribune
Al Gore released his movie ‘‘An Inconvenient Truth’’ in 2006. The global
warming issue became associated with
the highly partisan former vice president. Gore mobilized liberals, but, once
he became the global warming spokesman, no Republican could stand
shoulder to shoulder with him and survive. Any slim chance of building a bipartisan national consensus was gone.
Then, in 2008, Barack Obama seized
upon green technology and decided to
make it the centerpiece of his jobs program. During his presidential campaign he promised to create five million
green tech jobs. Renewable energy has
many virtues, but it is not a jobs program.
Obama’s stimulus package set aside
$90 billion for renewable energy loans
and grants, but the number of actual
jobs created has been small. Articles
began to appear in the press of green
technology grants that were costing $2
million per job created. The program
began to look like a wasteful disappointment.
Immeuble le Lavoisier, 4, place des Vosges, 92400 Courbevoie France. POSTAL ADDRESS: CS 10001, 92052 Paris La Défense Cedex. Tel: +33 1 41 43 93 00
E-Mail: [email protected] Internet address: Subscriptions: [email protected] Tel: +33 1 41 43 93 61 Classified: +33 1 41 43 93 85
Regional Office, Asia-Pacific: #1201, 191 Java Road, Hong Kong Tel. +852 2922 1188 Fax: +852 2922 1190 The Americas: Regional Office, 620 Eighth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10018 Advertising Tel. +1 212 556 7707 Fax: +1 212 556 7706, Circulation Tel. (toll free) +1 800 882 2884 or +1 818 487 4540 Fax: +1 818 487 4550 [email protected]
U.K.: Advertising Office, 1 New Oxford Street, London WC1A 1NU Tel. +44 20 7061 3500 Fax: +44 20 7061 3529
S.A.S. au capital de 240.000 ¤. RCS Nanterre B 732021126. Commission Paritaire No. 0513 C 83099 ©2012, International Herald Tribune. All rights reserved. ISSN: 0294-8052. Material submitted for publication may be transferred to electronic databases. The full text of the Contributor Policy appears on the Internet at: