Subscribe to Editorial RSS feed

Editorial

A vote for compromise in the offing?

As next week’s midterm elections approach, Americans are in a dark mood. The latest Washington Post-ABC News poll, released Tuesday, reports that 68 percent of likely voters think that the country is “on the wrong track”; a CNN-ORC International poll that came out the same day says 68 percent are angry “about the way things are going in the country today.”

Glossing over repression in Egypt

For several years President Barack Obama has asserted that the United States must sometimes subordinate its commitment to human rights in backing repressive regimes that are supportive of U.S. national security objectives, such as fighting terrorism. The Egyptian government of Abdel-Fattah El-Sissi is providing a case study of why that doctrine is misguided.

The last straw for big soda?

It’s a match made in nanny-state heaven. Having failed to ban Big Gulps in New York City, former Big Apple mayor Michael Bloomberg has dumped $85,000 into the campaign in San Francisco to pass Measure E — a two-cent tax on all “sugary drinks.”

Unraveling a peril in Bangladesh

It has been more than a year since Bangladesh’s Rana Plaza building collapsed, killing 1,138 garment industry workers who had been crammed into an unsafe building. American and European retailers promised to insist on better conditions in the factories they buy from. But they still have a long way to go: A consortium of European companies announced last week that they found more than 80,000 safety problems in the 1,106 factories they inspected since the Rana Plaza disaster. More than a tenth of the facilities were so bad that they required immediate retrofitting for production to proceed — or even evacuation.

The ‘red line’ gets dimmer in Syria

One grim indication that the regime of Bashar Assad has been emboldened by the U.S. air campaign in Syria is the fresh reports of chemical weapons attacks on civilian areas. The Institute for the Study of War has compiled 18 allegations by Syrian sources of chlorine gas attacks by the regime since U.S. strikes against the Islamic State began in August. The first strike was reported Aug. 19 — the same day that the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said it had completed the neutralization of the chemical weapons stockpile surrendered by the regime. The most recent was reported last week, when government forces allegedly used chlorine gas against rebel positions in the suburban Damascus area of Jobar.

The Islamic State’s appeal

Western leaders sometimes suggest that the Islamic State is its own worst enemy, so extreme in doctrine and practice that it will galvanize opposition within the Islamic world. While that is proving true to some extent — Muslim governments, senior clerics and even other jihadist groups have joined the fight against the would-be caliphate — the sobering truth is that the Islamic State also has picked up popular support and the allegiance of other militants in countries as far away as Algeria and Pakistan.

Holding firm on Ukraine

Western leaders boast that the sanctions slapped on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine are inflicting real pain, and that’s true — even if Russia’s macroeconomic indicators still don’t look worse than those of France, Italy or even Germany. But there’s no indication that the punishment is having a salutary effect on Vladimir Putin. In a quick but high-profile trip to meet leaders in Milan last week, the Russian ruler was no more disposed than he has been to retreat from Ukraine or his larger neoimperialist agenda.

Gillespie’s plan would be worse than Affordable Care Act

Republicans calling for repeal of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, are a dime a dozen. Fewer offer a plan to replace the law with something they claim would work better. To his credit, Virginia’s Ed Gillespie, a GOP Senate candidate, is in the more select group. Meanwhile, his Democratic opponent, Sen. Mark Warner, favors tweaking the law without upsetting its framework.

Putin should worry about the price of oil, not ‘blackmail’

Last week, as falling oil prices have hammered the Russian economy, President Vladimir Putin has warned repeatedly that his country, a nuclear superpower, must not be “blackmailed.” He was talking about economic sanctions, but there is a different lesson he should be drawing right now and it has nothing to do with the United States or the European Union.

Ebola is no one’s ‘fault’

The ebola virus reached this country at the height of the 2014 campaign, so perhaps it was inevitable that the political parties would try to exploit it. To Republicans, the situation proves once again that President Barack Obama has failed to protect Americans. In one of the milder versions of this allegation, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal published an op-ed faulting Obama for spending Centers for Disease Control and Prevention resources on grants for exercise and healthy diets rather than fighting infectious disease. Some Democrats say, meanwhile, that we wouldn’t have to worry about Ebola if not for budget cuts to the CDC and the National Institutes of Health, for which the GOP alone is to blame. As one especially inflammatory TV ad puts it: “Republican cuts kill.”

Yemen unravels

President Barack Obama cited Yemen as a model for U.S. operations against the Islamic State last month, not long after he told an interviewer that the intervention in Libya was his greatest foreign policy regret. In fact, the two countries offer similar lessons in the deficiencies of Obama’s strategy. By backing local forces with airpower in Libya, the United States and its allies were able to overthrow a murderous regime — but, as Obama acknowledged, the failure to assist with building a state afterward has facilitated Libya’s collapse into chaos.

Overcoming the ‘new mediocre’

It’s never wise to base policy on the gyrations of the stock market, but the sell-off on Wall Street this week reflects investors’ increasing nervousness about global economic growth — and their fears are not unfounded. To the contrary, the International Monetary Fund’s forecasters describe the global recovery as “disappointing” and “uneven” and have reduced their 2014 growth projection for the world economy downward, from 3.7 percent in April to 3.4 percent now. IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde warns of a “new mediocre” in economic performance. Behind that lapidary phrase is a human reality of joblessness, stagnant wages and frustrated hopes.

A square deal in Hong Kong

Pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong persist in part because of the self-defeating way local authorities — and their masters in Beijing — have responded to them. More than once the encampments on downtown streets have started to dwindle as unfinished schoolwork and sleep-deprivation take their toll on the middle-class student protesters. Then authorities dispatch police or groups of thugs to attack barricades, as happened on Monday and again on Tuesday. Or they abruptly announce the cancellation of talks they had previously agreed to, as happened last week. In each case, the response has been a resurgence of people to the streets and the erection of new blockades.

Contests and Promotions

Golf Challenge
Golf Challenge
Pick your favorite golfer
WHT-promo-generic_125x130.jpg
Subscribe
Click Here

Ebola: Don’t be scared. Be careful.

Federal officials announced Tuesday that a passenger who flew from Liberia to Dallas last month had become the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S. On Wednesday came word that health officials are monitoring several more people for signs of illness, including five school children who had contact with the first Ebola patient.

Hold the line with Iran

The deadline for completing a nuclear agreement with Iran is now less than eight weeks away, and the omens are not good. U.S. officials had hoped that an intensive week of negotiations at the United Nations last month would open the way to a deal but, by the account of both sides, little headway was made. “The gaps are still serious,” said a U.S. official briefing reporters at the end of the talks. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was even blunter: “The progress realized thus far has not been significant.”

Congress’ confirmation dysfunction

The ink on Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.’s resignation letter was hardly dry before members of Congress started bickering about his replacement. Lobbing overwrought criticism at Mr. Holder’s record, Republicans demanded that the country’s next top law enforcement officer eschew ideology and remain independent of the White House — and they tried to rule out filling the job quickly, before the next Senate sits in 2015. Holder, who has promised to lead the Justice Department until a replacement is confirmed, may be in office for many months yet.

California’s sensible new gun law can help reduce violence

It’s unlikely that California Gov. Jerry Brown had Colby Sue Weathers in mind when he signed Assembly Bill 1014 into law Tuesday. The law enables people to temporarily prevent mentally disturbed family members from possessing or purchasing guns. A so-called gun-violence restraining order, akin to the one used to obtain restraining orders in domestic violence cases, will allow police to search for and seize firearms.

The people’s party

Now that pro-democracy protests have shut large swaths of central Hong Kong, China’s leaders find themselves in a trap of their own making. Denying residents authentic democracy has not led to stability nor peace in the city-state. Crushing the demonstrations would do even more harm to the international reputation for freedom and the rule of law that has allowed Hong Kong to prosper as a semi-autonomous piece of the People’s Republic of China. The future of the city-state — and much more — rests on whether the Chinese central government realizes that its tight grip is ultimately counterproductive.

The law of the war

At the United Nations on Wednesday, President Barack Obama offered a powerful case for war against the Islamic State. “This group has terrorized all who they come across in Iraq and Syria,” he said. “There can be no reasoning — no negotiation — with this brand of evil. The only language understood by killers like this is the language of force.”

Nations face challenge of how to de-radicalize terrorists

President Barack Obama’s speech to the United Nations Wednesday morning may have attracted more attention, but his chairmanship of the U.N. Security Council later in the day may have the more lasting impact. The council unanimously agreed to adopt his proposal for a more coordinated global effort to track and arrest so-called foreign fighters — thousands of whom have joined Islamic State and other jihadi groups. Now it’s time to start thinking about what to do with them once they’re in custody.