Editorial voices from U.S., elsewhere
Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States and abroad as compiled by the Associated Press:
He may have channeled the no-nonsense fighting spirit and know-how of Gen. George S. Patton. He might have been this generation’s Dwight D. Eisenhower – a military hero-turned president – if he’d had the personal ambition.
He sure had the popularity.
Instead, Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf pulled a Douglas MacArthur – and faded away. From the spotlight, anyway.
The military hero of the first Gulf War spent his twilight years quietly helping children and charities before dying Dec. 27 at age 78.
It’s difficult to overstate Schwarzkopf’s importance to modern U.S. military history.
The Gulf War of 1991 was this country’s first major ground assault since the Vietnam War – and we all know how that one ended. The United States desperately needed a confidence boost, the clarity of a decisive end, and as few coalition casualties as possible.
There are probably two kinds of military heroes: the men who risk life and limb for their country and countrymen, and those visionary leaders who successfully command them. Norman Schwarzkopf was both kinds, having earned three Silver Stars for valor, a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart and more in Vietnam.
He was, as any hero, the right man at the right time.
If you have to have a backup plan for nominating a new secretary of state, it would be hard to do better than President Barack Obama’s selection of Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.
The senior senator from Massachusetts would replace Hillary Clinton, who has given notice of her desire to step down after four grueling years as one of the most-travelled secretaries of state in U.S. history.
The selection of Clinton was a gutsy move by Obama. His former Democratic rival for the 2008 presidential nomination not only had star power, but many feared that the irrepressible Bill Clinton would prove a liability. Instead, the former first lady and the current president have worked seamlessly together without complication.
Kerry has been a member of the U.S. Senate since 1985, all of that tenure on the Foreign Relations Committee, with the last six years as chairman. He’s often travelled in his official capacity and been something of a special envoy for Obama, including yeoman’s work in convincing a recalcitrant Hamid Karzai, president of Afghanistan, to hold an election.
He also went to Pakistan to steady our relationship with Islamabad after the unauthorized U.S. incursion to kill Osama bin Laden.
The president and Kerry have their differences on foreign policy, but Kerry is a political pro. He understands the role of a secretary of state perhaps as well as any nominee ever has and Obama has demonstrated his ability to work with a secretary with gravitas.
The fiscal cliff was concocted by President Barack Obama and Congress as a way of holding a gun to their own heads. The fixing of a deadline for the automatic imposition of ferocious tax hikes and deep spending cuts was supposed to concentrate the minds of America’s political leaders and force them into making the difficult decisions required to start reeling in the country’s truly terrifying levels of public debt.
The stratagem has failed. There has been no “grand bargain” that addresses the root causes of the ballooning deficit – rocketing Social Security entitlements funded by a too-narrow tax base – just a sticking-plaster settlement aimed at buying more time.
As the powerhouse of the world economy, America cannot continue to live in denial and expect to maintain its dominant role. Its current debt trajectory is leading the country to ruination. Many economists believe that such a crippling level of public debt can destroy any prospect of economic growth. The impact on the global economy of such a slowdown would be disastrous.