What others think in the U.S., elsewhere
Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States and abroad as compiled by The Associated Press:
Twelve years ago, we were suddenly and stunningly jolted from our naive notion that the world was a much safer place than we had led ourselves to believe.
The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, took 3,000 lives and impacted millions more by jerking the blinders off our heads. So America saddled up, went to war in the Middle East, and eventually earned some measure of justice by taking down many al-Qaida leaders and sending the Taliban running into the hills.
Yet a dozen years later, the Middle East looks no more stable nor peaceful than it was in 2001. That leads many to wonder what U.S. policy should be in the region. It’s a debate without a clear right or a left, nor easy answers.
The 9/11 attacks directly led to the U.S. military action in Afghanistan. That war has cost 2,200 American lives with success hard to measure. The terror attacks also indirectly led to the U.S. invasion of Iraq a year later, based on the belief Saddam Hussein’s regime had supported the terrorists and amassed destructive weapons. Our nation committed more than 4,400 lives and billions of dollars in a divisive engagement that many still believe was a mistake.
Now civil war in Syria pits Bashar Assad’s government against revolutionaries seeking to add that country to the Arab Spring list of toppled dictators that included Libya’s Gadhafi and Egypt’s Mubarak. If we learned anything from these messy Mideast uprisings it’s that removing one group of bad actors doesn’t lead to peace, stability and democracy – usually just to a different group of equally bad actors who impose their own brand of oppressive rule and political retribution.
After making a mess of things, the International Olympic Committee finally got it right.
Wrestling is back.
In an inexplicable move earlier this year, the IOC’s executive board cut wrestling from the list of Summer Games sports, explaining that it wanted to look for new sports that would sell more tickets and be more television-friendly.
Wrestlers worldwide rightly protested. After all, their sport was part of the original games in ancient Greece and has been included in every modern Olympics except 1900.
On Sunday, the Olympic committee admitted its mistake and voted to include wrestling in the 2020 and 2024 games. Although it stopped short of re-instating wrestling as a “core” Olympic summer sport, IOC President Jacques Rogge acknowledged that “wrestling has shown great passion and resilience in the last few months.”
Olympics officials axed wrestling because they said they wanted new, more popular sports. It was a dumb idea, and the vote to bring wrestling back shows they seem to understand that now.
A dozen years after 9/11, Barack Obama’s address on Syria provided a sobering insight into US strategic hesitancy. It underlined the extent to which prevarication and weakness have become the hallmarks of the president’s administration in dealing with the challenges of jihadist extremism and global terrorism.
As a reluctant belligerent, he has clutched, understandably, at Russia’s proposal to place Syria’s chemical weapons under international control. He has used this to delay the congressional vote on a retaliatory strike against the Assad regime. No one can reasonably criticize Obama for that: a diplomatic way out would be better than military action. But what he could not disguise is the extent to which Syria, like so many current security and strategic issues, is bedeviled by Obama’s penchant for leading from behind.
Military force must always be a last option, but we need more decisive leadership from Washington. Former President George W. Bush had to work assiduously to muster backing from allies and instill fear into enemies after 9/11. Yet, in deriding the legitimacy and success of the U.S. in Iraq, Obama increased his challenges on Syria.