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Editorial Roundup: Excerpts from recent editorials

Wednesday - 4/16/2014, 6:10pm  ET

The Associated Press

Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States and abroad:


April 15

The Tampa (Fla.) Tribune on Rwanda's turnaround:

It has been 20 years since the genocide that took as many as a million lives and left Rwanda in ruins. So it is illuminating that a new report shows that life expectancy in the formerly splintered African nation has doubled in that time.

The development reveals what can happen when murderous, corrupt regimes are replaced with leadership focused on maintaining peace and improving living conditions.

Harvard professor Paul Farmer, along with Rwandan health experts, just published a study of the life expectancy data in The Lancet, the world's most prestigious medical journal.

"In the aftermath of one of the worst spasms of mass violence in recorded history, few imagined that Rwanda might one day serve as a model for other nations committed to health equity," their report notes.

The 1994 genocide, carried out chiefly by the country's Hutus against their rival Tutsis, killed nearly 20 percent of the nation's population and displaced millions more.

One particularly horrible statistic to emerge from the genocide: Half a million women were raped during the fighting, and up to 20,000 children were born as a result.

That was then. The story now goes far beyond the life expectancy data, which obviously were going to improve somewhat once the mass killings ended.

In Rwanda today, the genocide -- while it will never be forgotten -- has been put aside as the victims and the perpetrators join hands in a remarkable effort to build a better nation.

Investment in Rwanda has nearly tripled since 2005, and although it lacks many natural resources, the country has become economically vibrant.

Moreover, most of the population is covered by health insurance, and malaria deaths have fallen more than 85 percent since 2005. The crime rate is low, and Rwandan women can now safely walk the streets at night.

If this kind of reconciliation and revival can happen in a forlorn corner of the world like Rwanda, couldn't it also happen in other places?

In fact, it has happened elsewhere: Just last week, Michael D. Higgins became the first president of Ireland to ever visit Britain's Parliament and be received by Queen Elizabeth at Windsor Castle.

Given the bloody history of Ireland's conflicts with the United Kingdom, it is encouraging the two sides are on friendly terms.

And although it took 20 years to overcome the horrors of Rwanda's genocide, we can only hope that the reconciliation, like that between Ireland and Great Britain, offers similar hope to other troubled parts of the world.



April 15

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on U.S. military activities in Africa:

The Defense Department's Africa Command, created in 2008, continues to expand U.S. military activities in Africa, now in at least 18 countries.

The operations are taking place in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Djibouti (which hosts a major U.S. base), Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Libya, Mali, Niger, Senegal, the Seychelles, Somalia, South Sudan, Togo, Tunisia and Uganda. The United States has operated drones out of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Niger and the Seychelles. A U.S.-trained officer led a coup d'etat in Mali in 2012.

Last month, a U.S. Special Operations force commandeered a tanker in international waters that Libyan rebels were attempting to use to export Libyan oil for their own profit. The armed intervention was carried out at the request of the shaky Libyan government and responded to the desires of American oil companies operating in Libya. A parallel use of U.S. military forces to protect the assets of American oil companies is the guard function they carry out on a pipeline in Colombia, South America.

In March, President Barack Obama authorized the insertion of U.S. forces into Central Africa to aid the Ugandan military in what have been unsuccessful efforts to track down the Lord's Resistance Army of Joseph Kony. This action was taken in spite of previous failures to trap the LRA and public criticism of the Ugandan government of President Yoweri Museveni for a law that its legislature has passed and he has signed that is sharply discriminatory against homosexuals.

It is difficult to argue that America has important strategic interests in any of these countries. Absent the agreement of any African nation to the establishment of a U.S. Africa Command headquarters on its soil, it remains based in Stuttgart, Germany.

It is hard to fathom why U.S. military activity is on the rise in Africa, but it may be driven to a degree by Pentagon fears that its budget will be cut in the post-Iraq and post-Afghanistan era, now that Americans are tired of distant wars. The problem is the activity is expensive -- planned expansion of the Djibouti base alone is estimated to cost $750 million -- and it risks involving the United States in unnecessary military adventures. Someone needs to "red pencil" the expansion before it proceeds further.

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