Editorial voices from around the U.S., elsewhere

January 3, 2014

Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States and abroad as compiled by the Associated Press:

The Post and Courier, Charleston, S.C.

Members of the Christian faith are increasingly under attack in Syria, Iraq, Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries. Though the main victims of the rising tide of sectarian violence in the region are Muslim civilians targeted by militants from the rival Sunni and Shia branches of Islam, violence against Christians is also increasing.

The persecution and murder of Christians have drawn the attention of Pope Francis and England’s Prince Charles, who recently said, “It seems to me that we cannot ignore the fact that Christians in the Middle East are, increasingly, being deliberately targeted by fundamentalist Islamist militants.”

A major objective of fundamentalist Muslim groups is to impose a particular form of religious law, Sharia, on everyone. As Prince Charles has said, the bridges of respect and understanding that he and other world leaders have tried to build with moderate Muslim leaders “are rapidly being deliberately destroyed by those with a vested interest in doing so.”

The world is a darker place because of their murderous zeal. This intensifying animus toward Christians demands sweeping – and continuing – condemnation by the international community.

The New York Times

An exhaustive investigation by The New York Times goes a long way toward resolving any nagging doubts about what precipitated the attack on the United States mission in Benghazi, Libya, last year that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

The report by David Kirkpatrick, The New York Times’ Cairo bureau chief, and his team turned up no evidence that al-Qaida or another international terrorist group had any role in the assault, as Republicans have insisted without proof for more than a year. The report concluded that the attack was led by fighters who had benefited directly from NATO’s air power and other support during the uprising against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi and that it was fueled, in large part, by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam.

In a rational world, that would settle the dispute over Benghazi, which has further poisoned the poisonous political discourse in Washington and kept Republicans and Democrats from working cooperatively on myriad challenges, including how best to help Libyans stabilize their country and build a democracy. But Republicans long ago abandoned common sense and good judgment in pursuit of conspiracy-mongering and an obsessive effort to discredit President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who may run for president in 2016.

While the report debunks Republican allegations, it also illuminates the difficulties in understanding fast-moving events in the Middle East and in parsing groups that one moment may be allied with the West and in another, turn adversarial. The report is a reminder that the Benghazi tragedy represents a gross intelligence failure, something that has largely been overlooked in the public debate.

The Australian

It would be hard to think of anything more blindly foolish than to cozy up to the Syrian despot Bashar al-Assad. Yet, that is what a WikiLeaks Party delegation has done by travelling to Damascus to express “solidarity” with his odious regime. Nothing better demonstrates the sound judgment of the Australian electorate in giving Julian Assange’s party such a derisory vote in last September’s election.

We have witnessed this sort of silliness before. Saddam Hussein played up such visits to propagate the myth he enjoyed widespread international support. Assad is doing the same. His version of “Baghdad Bob”, the official Syrian news agency, says Assad “underlined the importance” of the WikiLeaks Party visit and noted the delegates “represent a broad section of the Australian people who support Syria”. Nothing could be further from the truth.

It is simply idiotic political grandstanding, which provides the pariah regime with a propaganda coup.



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