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Editorial Roundup: Excerpts from recent editorials

March 26, 2014

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


March 18

The Gleaner, Henderson, Kentucky, on the courts treatment of young illegal immigrants:

Until about three years ago, federal agents annually intercepted 8,000 unaccompanied minors entering the United States illegally. By last year, the number had jumped to nearly 26,000. This year’s projection: As many as 60,000 youngsters may attempt to cross into this country without parents or papers.

This surge of under-age humanity presents two problems.

First is understanding the forces propelling it, which experts say include narco-trafficking, Central American gang violence and abusive homes.

It’s sensible to seek a regional approach to a humanitarian issue that is beyond the power of a single government to control.

A joint effort holds greater potential to address the causes of this migration trend, and the affected governments should work together to find a solution before it becomes a migration crisis.

The second problem the U.S. faces is what to do with the youngsters once they get here.

Unlike people charged with criminal offenses, those detained on immigration violations do not have the right to a court-appointed attorney during deportation proceedings, so if the detained person can’t afford a lawyer, he or she often faces the judge alone.

The issue is compounded when the defendant is a child. Children barely of school age have been compelled to argue alone in immigration court why they should be allowed to stay.

Often, the children can’t even understand the language, let alone the process, which means there is a very real chance that minors who qualify for asylum or other protections are being booted out of the country without a fair hearing.

The federal government should develop a system under which unaccompanied minors have access to a lawyer or experienced advocate (as happens in child-welfare court proceedings) to defend their interests. A number of nonprofit organizations, such as Kids in Need of Defense, have been training and coordinating pro bono lawyers to help children.




March 18

Tampa (Florida) Tribune on SEALS coming to the rescue:

Three cheers for the U.S. Navy’s courageous commandos, who Monday thwarted an attempt by a rogue Libyan militia leader to sell stolen oil on the black market. The Pentagon said President Barack Obama authorized the Mediterranean intervention Sunday night. Within hours, a Navy SEAL team on the guided missile destroyer Roosevelt had boarded and taken control of the Morning Glory in the Mediterranean near Cyprus.

No one was injured in operation, which was executed with the characteristic SEAL efficiency.

It was a rare show of resolution by an administration that has often appeared uncertain, if not impotent, during the recent international crises that have stretched from Crimea to Venezuela.

The action signaled rebels that the United States will defend Libya’s new government, which desperately wanted to keep the militia from selling the oil worth several million dollars.

The tanker, according to the Pentagon, had been stolen by three armed Libyans this month and then sailed into Sidra flying the North Korean flag, although the government in Pyongyang immediately denied any connection with the tanker or the plot to sell the stolen oil.

Apparently the militia had hoped to find a buyer somewhere in the Mediterranean and use the proceeds to enhance its standing in the ongoing conflict with the new government in Tripoli that has been struggling to restore Libya’s financial well-being since Moammar Gadhafi’s brutal dictatorship was overthrown in 2011.

The Navy described the capture of the tanker as a blow to the political ambitions of a militia leader named Ibrahim Jathran, who is said to portray himself as something of a latter-day Robin Hood, stealing from the government in order to improve the lives of those under his command.

But the crisis was also a threat to Americans and other foreigners with a financial stake in the Libyan oil business.

That the U.S. Navy stepped in to thwart Jathran’s bold scheme is a welcome triumph for the United States at a time when success on the international front seems increasingly hard to achieve.

But the action should not mislead anyone. The president needs a foreign policy that demands respect even when the SEALs are not involved.




March 18

Wall Street Journal on Ukraine and nuclear proliferation:

The damage to world order from Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Crimea will echo for years, but one of the biggest casualties deserves more attention: the cause of nuclear nonproliferation. One lesson to the world of Russia’s cost-free carve-up of Ukraine is that nations that abandon their nuclear arsenals do so at their own peril.

This story goes back to the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union. Russia’s nuclear arsenal was spread among the former Soviet republics that had become independent nations. Ukraine had some 1,800 nuclear weapons, including short-range tactical weapons, air-launched cruise missiles and bombers. Only Russia and the U.S. had more at the time, and Ukraine’s arsenal was both modern and highly survivable in the event of a first strike.

The U.S. was rightly concerned that these warheads could end up in the wrong hands, and the Clinton administration made controlling them a foreign-policy priority. The result was the 1994 Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances in which Ukraine agreed to sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and return its nuclear arsenal to Russia in exchange for security “assurances” by Russia, the U.S. and United Kingdom. Those included promises to respect Ukraine’s independence and sovereignty within its existing borders, as well as refraining from threatening or using force against Ukraine.

Contrast that with the current crisis. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron have blasted Russia for its clear violation of the Budapest accord, but those U.S. and U.K. assurances have been exposed as meaningless. That lesson isn’t lost on Ukraine, but it also won’t be lost on the rest of the world.

Had Kiev kept its weapons rather than giving them up in return for parchment promises, would Vladimir Putin have been so quick to invade Crimea two weeks ago? It’s impossible to know, but it’s likely it would have at least given him more pause.

Ukraine’s fate is likely to make the world’s nuclear rogues, such as Iran and North Korea, even less likely to give up their nuclear facilities or weapons. As important, it is likely to make non-nuclear powers and even close U.S. allies wonder if they can still rely on America’s security guarantees.

Perhaps the greatest irony is that President Obama has made nuclear nonproliferation one of his highest priorities.

On present trend Obama’s legacy won’t be new limits on the spread of nuclear weapons. Instead he’ll be the President who presided over, and been a major cause of, a new era of global nuclear proliferation.

To underscore the point, next week Obama will travel to The Hague to preach the virtues of nonproliferation at his third global Nuclear Security Summit. Also expected: Vladimir Putin.




March 19

China Daily on helping get relations right:

He may have been overly optimistic in portraying relations between the United States and China as “friendship”, but Max Baucus, the new US ambassador to China, hit the nail on the head when he said the two countries had to get their relationship right.

Despite all the rhetoric about a partnership, at the moment our countries are half-heartedly working together and endeavoring to build mutual trust because neither can afford to antagonize the other.

Ambassador Baucus’ immediate predecessor, Gary Locke, didn’t see much headway in improving bilateral ties, not because he didn’t work hard. His less-than-impressive personal record in China was symptomatic of Washington’s inability to adapt to a rapidly changing China.

Ambassador Baucus claims a long-running personal interest in China, having visited Beijing many times. However, that doesn’t guarantee he will fare better. Which is why expectations aren’t high.

Observers say Baucus has little experience of China, even less of diplomacy, and his expertise is largely confined to US trade policy.

However, the low expectations may actually be to his advantage. The close interdependence between Chinese and the US economies promises him a broad stage in Beijing. While his sponsoring of an un-enacted legislative proposal to punish China for “undervaluing” its currency may sound less than China-friendly, he will surely be embraced with gratitude here for championing this country’s inclusion in the World Trade Organization in 2001.

Baucus’ willingness to work across party lines in the US Senate may also prove an asset. The notorious “trust deficit” between Beijing and Washington calls for serious trust-building efforts from both side, and his consensus-building expertise may make him an effective messenger between Beijing and Washington.

The Chinese leadership has proposed a new-type of relationship with the US, which Chinese President Xi Jinping encapsulated as “no conflict, no confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation”. That proposal was received positively by Washington. Yet there is still no consensus on how to build such a relationship.

That, too, is where ambassador Baucus can contribute.

Trust-building will require long-term hard work. As a marathon enthusiast who once completed a 50-mile ultra-marathon, Baucus knows what each step means to reach the end of a protracted journey.

We wish him well in his new post, and hope his ambassadorship proves to be a significant step toward getting US-China relations right.




March 18

Khaleej Times, Dubia, on Maduro’s call to the U.S.:

Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro is unrelenting in playing to the gallery. The man who revels in his past profession as a bus driver has kept his political opponents on the edge, and left the powers that be in the region guessing.

In the latest maneuver, the president has stunned his admirers and critics alike by urging the United States to join the ‘peace commission’ and work alongside South American nations to build a future in consensus.

At the same time, he has also let it be known that he fears his US counterpart will order his assassination and has warned President Barack Obama that such a measure will be a life-time blunder. Maduro has played his cards well and to a great extent has silenced his opponents. The confidence in his once-shaky government was evident as thousands marched on the streets of Caracas to thank the country’s security forces for their efficient policing during the recent unrest.

Maduro has mandated his National Assembly spokesperson to negotiate with the U.S. the terms and conditions for an amicable co-existence. This is to be done under the auspices of the Union of South American Nations. In a broadcast that made many recall his revolutionary predecessor Hugo Chavez, Maduro said, “Give peace and respect a chance and let’s set the foundation for a new type of relations between the US, Venezuela and if possible, Latin America and the Caribbean.” This is regarded as an attempt to engage the U.S. on the behalf of entire Latin America. Obama shouldn’t waste this opportunity in disaster, and follow up with a gesture that would lead to a workable cooperation.



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