The Associated Press
Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States and abroad:
Anniston (Alabama) Star on Baghdad and Saigon:
If Baghdad is indeed becoming Saigon -- a city overrun by opposition and violence after the departure of the U.S. military -- Peter Arnett would know.
He intimately knows both places. Working for The Associated Press, Arnett won the Pulitzer Prize in 1966 for his reporting from Vietnam. In spring 1975, Arnett witnessed the calamity that ensued when U.S. personnel abandoned Saigon just as North Vietnamese forces were overtaking the city. In the 1990s, Arnett became a household name to a new generation of Americans following his blow-by-blow coverage of the first Gulf War on CNN.
Arnett, now retired as a foreign correspondent, wrote in Monday's Washington Post that a Saigon-like future "may be the fate that awaits Baghdad if the march of ISIS continues. The Sunni insurgency has already captured much of Iraq's north (much as the Vietcong had) and is steadily pushing southward. If it reaches the city, what I saw unfold in Saigon nearly 40 years ago is probably a good proxy for what to expect."
The picture Arnett paints is one dripping in pessimism, and understandably so. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, is a jihadist militant group that's systematically taking control of wide swaths of those nations. Bloodshed is ubiquitous, the death toll rising. President Obama has sent military advisers and a few hundred troops to Baghdad to protect U.S. interests, including the embassy and its personnel.
Whatever unsteady peace brought through America's years-long involvement in that Middle Eastern nation is rapidly dissolving.
Arnett admits that "crucial differences separate Vietnam and Iraq," most notably the existence of three groups -- the Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds -- who, as Arnett so bluntly puts it, "no longer wish to live within the antiquated borders devised by European diplomats 100 years ago." Vietnam doesn't suffer from that internal struggle of religion and violence.
A smattering of U.S. troops can't glue together what's coming apart in Baghdad. Arnett's prediction of Iraq's future may be more proof of the Iraq War's undeniable folly.
Miami Herald on banking on U.S. Export-Import Bank:
Given the multitude of problems facing the United States, it's appalling to see prominent members of Congress focusing on the U.S. Export-Import Bank as a target of opportunity. Why has a useful government agency that works exactly as intended suddenly become a political football?
Relatively few Americans have heard of the Ex-Im Bank, or its purpose, but ever since its creation under Franklin Roosevelt, the agency has been a critical force behind the success of American businesses competing in overseas markets.
Its role is twofold. It provides export credit insurance so that U.S. companies selling made-in-America goods abroad have protection against the risks of doing business overseas. And it provides financing for foreign buyers purchasing American-made goods. For obvious reasons, this is not a role that private banks are eager to play. The risks are deemed too great for a private institution, whereas a government agency has the clout and the means to act overseas.
Its services are not free. The agency charges fees and interest, like any other bank -- and regularly produces an annual profit. Last year, it helped reduce the U.S. deficit by $1 billion.
So why in the world would incoming House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and other like-minded Republicans zero in on the Ex-Im Bank for extinction? The short answer is that they see it as an enabler of "crony capitalism," helping big businesses like Boeing, Caterpillar and GE that should not have to rely on the full faith and credit of the U.S. government to make a profit.
That, at best, is a weak argument.
Then, too, there is the argument that the Ex-Im Bank does not so much create jobs as help to allocate them, that it chooses "winners and losers" in deciding where to lend assistance.
Tell that to the more than 200,000-plus American workers who owed their jobs to bank-supported exports in the last fiscal year -- many of them in Florida. This state is home to 58,000 exporters, according to the Ex-Im Bank, the second-highest number in the country.
In short, the bank promotes American business, protects jobs, enables U.S.-made goods to compete overseas -- and makes a profit for taxpayers in the process. Congress has a problem with that?
The agency's charter expires on Sept. 30. Destroying the Ex-Im Bank would amount to a form of unilateral disarmament in the contest over international trade. Surely lawmakers can stop their incessant feuding and ideological warfare long enough to renew its authority to stay in business before any American jobs are lost.