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Editorial Roundup: Excerpts from recent editorials

Wednesday - 5/29/2013, 4:44pm  ET

The Associated Press

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

May 24

Detroit Free Press on redefining the war on terror:

In an address remarkable for both its candor and its humility, President Barack Obama sought Thursday to limit the scope of his predecessor's global war on terror, pivoting from a full-court campaign of military pre-emption to a new era of proportionality and political engagement.

Squarely confronting critics who have decried his administration's unprecedented use of unmanned drone strikes and its continuing detention of suspected terrorists at Guantanamo, the president pledged to curtail both practices and called on federal lawmakers to facilitate the transition to a containment effort that relies less heavily on military force.

He said Gitmo has become "the symbol around the world for an America that flouts the rule of law" and warned that "history will cast a harsh judgment" if the U.S. continues to imprison suspects indefinitely without prosecuting them before criminal juries or military tribunals on American soil. ...

For Obama, Thursday's address to the National Defense University was an effort to distance both his presidency and the United States from the open-ended war on terror then-President George W. Bush declared in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. ...

He noted that five years have passed since "the premise for opening Gitmo -- that detainees would not be able to challenge their detention -- was found unconstitutional." And he acknowledged that casualties inflicted on innocent civilians have damaged U.S. credibility with both the people and governments of strategically important allies.

Among the most refreshing themes in Thursday's address was Obama's call for the expanded use of diplomacy and foreign aid, both of whose effectiveness has been grossly underestimated. As the president noted, current expenditures on foreign assistance constitute "only a tiny fraction of what we spend fighting wars that our assistance might ultimately prevent."

A single speech will scarcely bring about the sea change Obama seeks. But the shift in focus and tactics that he outlined Thursday is both worthwhile and long overdue, and America's long-term efforts to contain terrorism can only be enhanced by its swift implementation.

Online:

http://www.freep.com

____

May 26

New York Times on nuclear weapons funding:

The United States has about 180 B61 gravity nuclear bombs based in Europe. They are the detritus of the cold war, tactical weapons deployed in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey to protect NATO allies from the once-feared Soviet advantage in conventional arms. But the cold war is long over, and no American military commander can conceive of their ever being used. Even so, President Obama has put $537 million in his 2014 budget proposal to upgrade these bombs. When all is said and done, experts say, the cost of the rebuilding program is expected to total around $10 billion -- $4 billion more than an earlier projection -- and yield an estimated 400 weapons, fitted with new guided tail kits so that they are more reliable and accurate than the current ones.

This is a nonsensical decision, not least because it is at odds with Obama's own vision. In a seminal speech in Prague in 2009 and a strategy review in 2010, Obama advocated the long-term goal of a world without nuclear arms and promised to reduce America's reliance on them. He also promised not to field a new and improved warhead.

But the B61 upgrade would significantly increase America's tactical nuclear capability and send the wrong signal while Obama is trying to draw Russia into a new round of nuclear reduction talks that are supposedly aimed at cutting tactical, as well as strategic, arsenals. ...

In addition to overspending on warheads, Obama has cut the Global Threat Reduction Initiative program, which reduces and protects from terrorism vulnerable nuclear material at sites worldwide, by 15 percent from 2013 levels. His budget is being rewritten by Congress, but in the nuclear area it is a disappointing, and befuddling, measure of his priorities.

Online:

http://www.nytimes.com

___

May 27

The Daytona Beach News-Journal on homegrown terrorists:

The recent shooting in Orlando of a murder suspect, and the brutal murder in London of a British soldier, show that homegrown terrorism is perhaps the biggest challenge in the post-bin Laden era.

Recently, two men ... attacked a British soldier in the Woolwich area of London. The soldier was hacked to death with knives and machetes. British police captured the two men on the spot. Evidence suggests the men are Islamic extremists influenced by a radical Muslim cleric.

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