New England editorial roundup
New England editorial roundup
The Associated Press
Sep. 27, 2014
The Rutland (Vt.) Herald, Sept. 25, 2014
The war in Iraq and Syria requires that President Barack Obama engage in the diplomacy of the unsaid, which is related to the diplomacy of creative ambiguity. Obama's policy of "degrading" and destroying the Islamic State, which has seized territory in both nations, cannot be described through simple formulations of good and bad. What goes unsaid will be important.
One of the curious twists caused by the ascendancy of ISIS is that the United States now finds itself on the same side as two of its longtime foes, Iran and Syria. And yet the Obama administration has made clear it has not and does not intend to coordinate its campaign against ISIS with either country.
Iran has long been an ally of the Shia-dominated Iraqi government; in fact, one of the ironic legacies of the U.S. invasion of Iraq has been the degree to which it has empowered Iran, long a bete noire of the United States. But Iran is the leading Shia power in the region, and so it has had an interest in bolstering the struggling Shia regime in Baghdad.
Maintaining influence in Iraq is a way of blunting the aggressiveness of Iraq Sunnis, who, behind the leadership of Saddam Hussein, waged a costly war against Iran in the 1980s. The American memory is short-lived, but for Iran, the Iran-Iraq War was a blood-soaked version of World War I, and securing a friendly regime in Baghdad is an act of self-defense.
So as Iraq's U.S.-installed regime has struggled, Iran has pitched in with military leadership, armaments and personnel. Thus, the inroads made by ISIS in Iraq are a threat that Iraq and its Iranian friends are trying to confront.
The U.S. is in a position of trying to mend fences with Iran in order to curb its nuclear program, but hostility toward the U.S. is still prevalent in Teheran, and the Obama administration can't seem too friendly. It needs to practice the art of the blind eye, allowing Iran to help Iraq fend off ISIS without saying too much about it.
This tricky diplomacy gets trickier in Syria because the United States has established that it believes the regime of Bashar Assad must go, which is also the aim of ISIS. Thus, in fighting ISIS, the United States takes on one of the principal foes of Assad, helping him quash the revolution that we support. The United States informed Syria that U.S. jets were coming to bomb ISIS but did not ask permission or coordinate the attacks. Syria would be wise to do some of its own coordination, following up on U.S. bombing runs with attacks of its own. But the United States can't say as much.
Rather than acknowledge that we are on the same side as Assad in relation to ISIS, Obama has laid out a strategy of boosting "moderate" anti-Assad rebels. And yet with the United States bloodying the nose of ISIS, Assad will have a freer hand in quashing these U.S.-backed moderates. It will likely turn out that Assad's vicious and brutal regime will benefit from disarray among the rebels and U.S. action against ISIS. As in Egypt the rise of Islamist forces is touching off a brutal crackdown by strongman leaders — a far more ruthless crackdown in Syria than in Egypt.
Barrie Dunsmore, the Herald columnist and former foreign correspondent, went so far as to recall that during World War II the United States allied itself for strategic reasons with one of the most heinous mass murderers in history, Joseph Stalin. Abetting Assad's effort to crush ISIS is a similar compromise with reality. Practicing the diplomacy of the unsaid, it is something the Obama administration must leave unacknowledged. One positive outcome of this tangled mess is that our creative ambiguity might allow Iran to gain a new level of trust in the United States, persuading it that agreeing to curb its nuclear weapons program is in everyone's interest.
The Journal Inquirer of Manchester (Conn.), Sept. 25, 2104
A federal appeals court has overruled Judge Lynn Adelman's finding that a law requiring a voter to provide photo identification before casting a ballot was a violation of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
About 300,000 Wisconsin residents are without the necessary identification. Adelman, of the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, concluded that the law "will prevent more legitimate votes from being cast than fraudulent votes."
The appellate court ruling that overturned Adelman's decision "came surprisingly swiftly," according to The New York Times. It happened on the same day lawyers argued the case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit.
The appellate court's action is considered a major victory for groups supporting strict voting procedures. These groups, predominantly Republican, have attempted to restrict voting in many areas by calling for requirements that might be difficult for middle- and lower-income voters to meet.
Interestingly, the court finding is a victory for Gov. Scott Walker, the Republican who is facing a challenge from Democratic candidate Mary Burke in November. Walker's controversial actions as Wisconsin governor have overturned many union agreements.
The panel that overruled Adelman included Judge Frank Easterbrook, who was nominated to the court by President Ronald Reagan, and Judges Diane Sykes and John Daniel Tinder, both of whom were nominated by President George W. Bush.
We again wonder about the impartiality of our judiciary.