In a July 16 national editorial roundup, The Associated Press erroneously reported which newspaper had authored an editorial about Ukraine, as well as the date it was published. That editorial was published July 10 by The Washington Post, not the New Britain Herald.
A corrected version of the story is below:
Editorial Roundup: Excerpts from recent editorials
Editorial Roundup: Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the US and abroad
The Associated Press
Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States and abroad:
The Washington Post on Ukraine deserving support:
Ukraine’s new leader is making progress in regaining control over eastern areas of the country that were seized by Russian-backed insurgents, but he’s getting no help from the United States or the European Union. In fact, President Petro Poroshenko is succeeding in large part because he is resisting pressure to make unacceptable concessions to Moscow and its surrogates.
Germany and France have been pressing for a cease-fire and peace talks that would include the rebels, Russia and Ukraine but not Western governments. Vladimir Putin is supportive, as he hopes to create another of the “frozen conflicts” Moscow uses to permanently destabilize its neighbors. His truce terms would leave in place Russian control of the major eastern cities of Donetsk and Luhansk and make it virtually impossible for Poroshenko to stabilize the country.
Poroshenko’s resistance to those terms and resumption of military action has led to the recapture of half the territory once occupied by the pro-Russian forces, including the important crossroads town of Slovyansk. Ukrainian forces are now encircling the rebels in Donetsk. The Ukrainian leader has offered to talk to the insurgents but rightly says a cease-fire depends on an end to Russia’s arms trafficking.
It remains to be seen whether Ukrainian forces can finish off the insurgents while observing a pledge to avoid civilian casualties and whether Putin will step up his military support for his proxies. The Russian leader has been playing what NATO’s secretary general correctly termed a “double game,” offering fake compromises to the West while continuing his campaign to make Ukraine ungovernable. Putin has economic as well as military cards to play: He has suspended Russian gas deliveries to Ukraine and threatened to impose crippling trade tariffs. He has patience and plenty of time; for the moment he is popular at home, and the Russian stock market is rising.
If he has been surprised by Poroshenko’s grit, then Putin can only be encouraged by the fecklessness of the European Union and the United States. At the end of June, the allies promised tough sanctions against Russia if Moscow did not immediately stop its support of the rebels. Secretary of State John F. Kerry breathlessly declared on June 26 that Russia had to move within “hours” to disarm its proxies. Two weeks later, the promised “sectoral” sanctions on Russian industries have not been adopted, even though Western governments agree that Putin has not met any of their conditions. Instead, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande are leaning on Poroshenko to stop trying to regain control over his country.
To their credit, senators from both parties voiced frustration with the Obama administration’s continued passivity at a Foreign Relations Committee hearing Wednesday. “What are we waiting for?” asked Chairman Robert Menendez, D-N.J. Administration officials predicted that the oft-promised sanctions would come “very soon” if Russia did not change course — perhaps following a European Union summit meeting next week. But the White House has not committed itself to unilateral action if the European Union falters.
The administration is not wrong to prefer joint action with the Europeans if it is achievable. But the United States has the power to impose crippling unilateral sanctions on Russia, especially through the banking system. If the Ukrainian government can act without the permission of France and Germany, so can the United States.
The Post and Courier, Charleston, South Carolina, on Israel’s heightened peril:
President Barack Obama has offered to broker a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, a standard U.S. response to the periodic outbreak of violence from Gaza. But the current rocket fire from Gaza into Israel is different from past episodes, and the usual cease-fire may not answer Israel’s new peril.
Hamas took credit for trying to destroy Israel’s nuclear reactor at Dimona. Three rockets were fired at the installation. Two fell short and one was intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system.
Had the attacks succeeded – and more are expected – widespread exposure to nuclear radiation could have resulted. At the least, Hamas’ terror campaign would have achieved a new level.
Around the same time, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri declared, “All Israelis have become legitimate targets.” He claimed that the deaths of seven civilians in an Israeli air raid on Khan Yunis, a Gaza settlement, justified this blood claim.
Israel’s reply to Hamas rocket attacks has indeed been far more deadly than the provocation. But that is due to three things: the ineptness of most Hamas attacks, the roughly 90 percent success of Israel’s Iron Dome system in destroying the missiles most likely to do damage, and the practice of Hamas to put its missiles, command posts and other military targets in the midst of dense civilian populations.
The heightened threat level may lead to an Israeli invasion of Gaza.
Meanwhile, Israel also has to worry about the threat from Hezbollah in Lebanon, with as many as 30,000 missiles, including some that have GPS guidance systems. Hezbollah also gets its weapons from Iran, with the help of the Assad government of Syria. It can be expected to unleash an attack if Iran thinks it is desirable. With Iran’s help Assad seems to be winning the civil war in Syria, but it is not over yet. Indeed, it has spread to Iraq and now threatens Jordan.
Hamas’ aggression against Israel – the murders, the missiles, the rhetoric – threatens to drag Israel into the wider Middle East conflict. A cease-fire may put a temporary stop to the pressure from Iran’s proxies.
But Israel’s heightened peril will remain.
And that intensifies the need for the international community, including the United States, to help resolve not only the latest violence, but finally the intransigent Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tennessee, on Brazil repeating success with Olympics:
Against daunting odds — the slow pace of construction, demonstrations by displaced slum dwellers, long distances, impenetrable traffic and the collapse of one hastily built overpass — Brazil pulled off what is universally and rightly regarded as a successful soccer World Cup.
The competition was watched by record crowds worldwide, including a 100 percent increase in U.S. viewership over the last World Cup.
It is not too much to say that the fate of the government of President Dilma Rousseff, who faces an election in October, was riding on Brazil being able to pull off a major international sporting event. Then, too, there is the matter of paying the $14 billion-plus cost of hosting the cup, but Brazil is a wealthy nation and, besides, it shares South America’s relaxed attitude about carrying large amounts of debt.
Few of the brick-and-mortar benefits from the cup materialized and Brazil, which fancies itself the natural home of soccer, must still deal with the lingering aftereffects of its 7-1 humiliation at the hands of eventual winner Germany.
However, there looms on the horizon an even larger event to take Brazilians’ minds off that sporting catastrophe. Brazil will play host to the 2016 Summer Olympics, an event that will dwarf the World Cup in size and cost.
Before the World Cup there were riots by Brazilians, who felt the money could be better spent, for example, on schools and housing. Having been deprived of promised civic benefits once, it’s hard to imagine Brazilians exhibiting similar forbearance for the Summer Olympics.
Miracles do happen; the fact that Brazil pulled off the World Cup was one, but maybe a second one is too much to ask for.
Wall Street Journal on Obama’s nonpolluting firefighters:
The Obama Administration is asking Congress for more money to fight summer wildfires, especially in the dry West, but perhaps it could start by getting its own agencies off firefighters’ backs. We’re speaking of the Defense Department’s recent and gratuitous fit of environmental consciousness, which has disrupted disaster efforts in peak wildfire season.
A bipartisan group of 25 Senators led by Arizona’s John McCain last Thursday sent Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel a letter demanding an explanation for the Pentagon’s June decision to stop programs that supply federal equipment to states for fighting wildfires. DOD suspended the programs on grounds the equipment didn’t meet the latest federal emissions standards. As if real fires aren’t major air-polluting events.
At issue are two programs_the Federal Excess Personal Property Program and the Firefighter Property Program_that every year loan local firefighting units more than $150 million of equipment that the federal government no longer needs. The programs supply tens of thousands of items_trucks, pumps, generators, engine parts_and have become a lifeline for smaller, all-volunteer fire departments that can’t afford $500,000 for a new tanker. This is more than charity given that the vast majority of the wildfires these local units battle occur on land owned by the federal government.
But in mid-June DOD suspended the transfer of trucks and generators, many of which were made for military use with diesel engines that don’t meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s latest emissions standards. According to the Defense Logistics Agency, which handles the transfers, its employees were wading through paperwork in May and suddenly feared that they weren’t abiding by a decades-old agreement with the EPA to submit to Clean Air Act standards. DOD’s response to its self-generated confusion was to suspend the program, leaving thousands of local fire-fighting teams without help.
An enormous state outcry caused EPA and DOD to announce last week that they are restarting the programs. The wizards at DOD have concluded that EPA grants a “national security” exemption to its emissions rules for transferred military equipment. Wonderful.
Yet proving that no government mistake goes without punishing others, the agencies have nonetheless suggested that this program restart may now come with new requirements_including that local firefighters track and ultimately return every piece of equipment so the feds can destroy them. We can’t have rogue, un-emissions-friendly generators roaming the countryside.
That inspired Senator McCain’s letter to Hagel asking to know how this mess happened, as well as the details on any new requirements. Local fire units have enough trouble without worrying that the feds will suddenly seize their fire truck keys. This Administration can’t even give things away without making a mess of it.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Afghan’s recount:
The latest chapter in U.S. efforts to nation-build in Afghanistan is the attempt by Secretary of State John Kerry to salvage the country’s presidential election.
What America wants Afghanistan to do, for three reasons, is elect a credible president to succeed Hamid Karzai, ostensibly in charge of the country since 2001. First, having a democratically elected president means that the United States can leave in an orderly fashion, having been a major military, political and economic presence for 13 years. President Barack Obama would prefer to leave an Afghanistan that does not immediately descend into the sort of chaos that characterizes Iraq, which U.S. forces left in 2011.
The second reason Washington wants a duly elected president in charge is that Karzai refused to sign the agreement extending the U.S. presence from 2014 to 2016, but both of the candidates still in the race have promised to do so if elected.
The third is the United States still has more than 30,000 troops in Afghanistan, will leave behind an Afghan army that has been U.S.-trained and -armed to fight the Taliban, and has many projects that have been carried out and many bases and much property to turn over to the Afghans.
As it stands now, the election has been a disaster. Former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah won the first round in April over former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani, but failed to win 50 percent of the votes, prompting a runoff. Ghani, the candidate of Karzai, was announced to have finished first in the second round in June. Abdullah credibly cried “foul.” One suspicious detail is that the vote total in the second round was 23 percent higher than that of the first round. Maybe Ghani campaigned more effectively or maybe ballot boxes were stuffed, a common phenomenon in Afghanistan.
Kerry hurried to Kabul to try to retrieve the situation. Both candidates agreed to a recount of the 8.1 million ballots and both agreed to form a coalition government when the counting was done. The United States and other nations have the privilege of paying for the recount, which for U.S. troops will be part of the ticket home.
New Straits Times, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on human eyes still needed:
Although air travel had never been devoid of bad guys and hijackers pre-9/11, it is a distinction in history that that day, 13 years ago, marked a definite loss of innocence with regards to the airplane. Post-9/11, very little affecting air security is left to chance, with increasing security restrictions and measures being added to try and keep up with terroristic innovations. Starting this week, for instance, all passengers in United States-bound flights flying out of certain airports in the world may be asked to turn on their mobile devices at security checkpoints to prove that it is not a cleverly designed bomb. This will, no doubt, add an extra hour to the security clearance process in the strictest airports. Such is the world we live in today.
At the same time, as airlines and airports try to cater for their ever-growing clientele, the demand is for better and faster service. For this reason, and because automation reduces the need to pay for frontline human personnel, most modern airports and airlines have gradually been converting to the self check-in system. From July 15, for instance, it will become mandatory for all Malaysia Airlines economy class passengers to self check-in. The move is a precursor to the soon-to-be introduced baggage self-drop-off and tagging system, which will also dispense with the need for human interaction, cost a fraction that of counter services, cut queue time and speed up the check-in process. The only problem with the fully self-service system is that it cuts out a lot of human eyeballs, which are essential in assessing the behavior and body language of passengers before they get on the plane. This was one of the concerns airline security management had in the early days of online ticket sales, and later, check-ins, because it robbed airline staff of the opportunity to interact with would-be passengers and ascertain their mood. The more layers of frontline staff a passenger had to go through, the better the chances of someone spotting something. Long queues also serve a purpose in giving security personnel the chance of scrutinizing passenger behavior and conducting facial recognition scans.
With several layers removed, will there be sufficient other security measures in place to pick up the slack? As the pre-boarding events in flight MH370 have proven, our security screening is, as yet, far from being foolproof. And though our internal security forces are doing a reasonably good job of routing out the homegrown international militancy that is now coming out of the woodworks, a lot of effort and vigilance needs to be put in to ensure that none of these people ever make it on a plane flying out of our airports. The need for speed should not jeopardize the need for security.
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