Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States and abroad:
Fayetteville (North Carolina) Observer, on women in special ops:
It’s the last frontier for women in U.S. armed forces. The debate from the Pentagon to the A-team is whether women should serve in our special operations forces.
The deadline for an answer is coming fast. The ban on women serving in combat was lifted in 2012, and the services have until next January to open all combat jobs to women or explain why not.
Special ops jobs are among the most demanding. Training and qualification tests push troops to the edge of their physical and psychological endurance. Their work in isolated locations under intense stresses pushes them even farther. The attrition rate for male trainees is high.
But is this any different from objections we’ve heard since the subject was first broached? Not really. The answer for special ops may be the same as it was for other combat jobs: Let women apply, if they wish, and prove they can meet the standards – which for the safety of all soldiers, cannot be relaxed.
Some special ops aviation jobs, including pilots, have already been opened to women. Some have qualified; there are three female Night Stalker pilots, for example.
The Army’s still trying to decide if there are reasons why other special ops jobs can’t be done by women. But in the end, meeting standards will likely be the only measure.
The Daily News, Bowling Green, Kentucky, on Sen. Rand Paul:
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., is officially running for president of the United States.
This is very exciting news, not only for Bowling Green and Kentucky, but for the country.
Paul made his announcement before a huge crowd Tuesday at the Galt House in Louisville. National and international press corps were in attendance for the beginning of what will be a very interesting campaign.
We believe Kentucky’s junior senator will be a viable candidate in a field that, to date, only includes U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. The field is expected to grow in the coming weeks and months.
Regardless of one’s view of Paul and his politics, one can’t help but be supportive of our senator. Paul, a darling of the tea party, already had a rather high profile before he announced, but more and more people across this country now will learn who Rand Paul is and what he stands for.
As a city and a state, we should embrace the senator’s entrance into the 2016 presidential election. His entry into the race puts our city and state at a unique advantage of giving us national and international attention.
Paul also is making history by running for president. He is the only person ever from Bowling Green to run for president. If elected as commander in chief, he would become the first president elected from this state who resided here. Former President Abraham Lincoln was born in Kentucky but was an Illinois resident when he was elected to the White House.
If Paul is elected president, Kentucky would be in the unique position of having the two most powerful people in the country representing us, along with U.S. Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
Bowling Green is a known town, but with Paul’s announcement, it will be a much more relevant city because of his candidacy for president. Our city and state stand to get a lot of outside media attention after Paul’s announcement.
This is a plus for our city.
While there is a lot of time until November 2016, Paul’s entry into the presidential race is exciting. We look forward to seeing the presidential candidate in debates with other candidates and see how he does in the primaries next winter.
We could potentially be watching history in the making, and perhaps maybe one day we could be referring to him as President Rand Paul.
Los Angeles Times on Rolling Stone magazine:
Columbia Journalism School’s eviscerating report on Rolling Stone’s now-discredited article about the alleged gang rape of an unnamed female student at the University of Virginia comes in the midst of an impassioned national debate about sexual assault on campus. But let’s not get confused: The issue at hand is not whether students are being sexually assaulted or whether universities are too lax or too lenient on perpetrators. Rather, it is whether and how journalists can honestly and responsibly cover these complicated subjects. In this case, the journalists failed.
The reporter and her editors at Rolling Stone failed to verify basic information from their source, and they failed to contact the people who could have corroborated – or contradicted – the story. They did not provide members of the fraternity where the attack supposedly took place with detailed allegations to which they could respond. After the reporter tried but failed to locate the alleged perpetrator, the magazine simply used a pseudonym to write about him.
To hear Rolling Stone tell it, those oversights came about because the reporter wanted to be particularly sensitive to a woman who claimed to be the victim of a sexual assault. The reporter apparently didn’t want to traumatize her any further.
But it is unacceptable to compromise the truth in the name of sensitivity. Of course journalists who interview victims of violent crimes and their families should be kind and respectful. As we all know, sexual assault has been viewed in society as such a stigmatizing occurrence that victims have often been reluctant even to report it. Many newspapers, including The Times, do not print the names of rape victims. But none of that excuses media organizations from their responsibility to diligently and thoroughly examine the cases they cover.
How was that fundamental principle forgotten? The Columbia report notes: “Because questioning a victim’s account can be traumatic, counselors have cautioned journalists to allow survivors some control over their own stories.”
But that’s simply not possible. Once a victim goes public, journalists are obliged to ask tough questions – even at the risk of losing the subject’s cooperation or losing the story altogether.
Covering sexual assault is complicated. Even the basic statistics about how common assaults are on campus are being challenged. As people have begun to stand up against sexual violence on campus, others have grown worried that the due process rights of the accused could be compromised. In this fraught climate, for a publication like Rolling Stone to come at a story with a preconceived point of view and then botch the reporting does no one any good.
New York Times on Israel’s unworkable demands on Iran:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has gone into overdrive against a nuclear agreement with Iran. On Monday, his government made new demands that it claimed would ensure a better deal than the preliminary one that Iran, President Obama and other leaders of major powers announced last week. The new demands are unrealistic and, if pursued, would not mean a better deal but no deal at all.
Netanyahu is acting as if he alone can dictate the terms of an agreement that took 18 months and involved not just Iran and the United States but Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China. He wants to appear reasonable. “I’m not trying to kill any deal; I’m trying to kill a bad deal,” he said on NBC News’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. But he offers no workable options.
There are important details to be worked out before a final agreement is expected to be concluded by June 30. Even so, the framework is surprisingly comprehensive and offers the best potential for preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
As outlined on Monday by Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s minister of intelligence and strategic affairs, the Israelis are now insisting that Iran end all research and development on advanced centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium; reduce the number of operating centrifuges at its Natanz plant beyond what was agreed to in the framework; and close its underground enrichment facility at Fordo. Also, Israel has demanded that Iran allow inspections “anywhere, anytime” by international monitors, ship its stockpile of enriched uranium out of the country and disclose past nuclear-related activities that might involve military uses.
In any negotiation, there could never be a deal without compromise. It would be preferable if every vestige of Iran’s nuclear program were eradicated. But that was never going to happen, not least because Iran’s know-how could never be erased.
Iran’s leaders would not accept a deal in which they did not maintain some elements of a nuclear program tailored for energy and medical purposes – not weapons. Ultimately, Mr. Obama had to make many judgment calls in getting a deal that would prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.
The alternative is no deal, and Iran simply moves forward on its nuclear program without any limits. Shuttering Fordo was an early goal, but, in the end, the agreement would allow Iran to keep a small number of centrifuges spinning and to produce medical isotopes at the plant. For the Iranians, it was a matter of political symbolism and jobs to keep the plant open; Mr. Obama apparently felt there were enough protections that he could agree.
Ideally, more of the 10,000 centrifuges operating at the Natanz enrichment plant would be stopped, as Israel has demanded, but the agreement would halt 5,000 – a significant reduction. The deal permits Iran to retain only a small amount of enriched uranium and provides options for disposing of the rest (including shipping it out of the country). All the options would ensure that Iran can’t enrich the material for nuclear weapons.
While the deal does not grant international monitors the right to go anywhere, anytime, it does impose a tough inspection regime and establishes a commission to resolve disputes if Iran blocks access to a suspected site. It allows research on advanced centrifuges, but the machines can’t be used for enrichment for 10 years. There is confusion about how the deal addresses Iran’s willingness to come clean on its past military activities, but experts have said that a final agreement would require Iran to answer all questions before sanctions are lifted.
The Israelis have also said there should be no agreement or lifting of sanctions until Iran recognizes Israel. Iran’s hostility and threats toward Israel and its involvement in terrorist activities are heinous and unacceptable. But those issues should be dealt with separately; resolving them should not be made conditions of the nuclear agreement. Getting to a final deal won’t be easy. Mr. Obama must continue to be tough and determined in the coming months of negotiations. Israel’s demands, however, must not become an excuse to scuttle what seems to be a very serious and potentially groundbreaking deal.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Kenya’s toll:
The massacre of 148 people at Garissa University College in northeastern Kenya by Somali ethnic al-Shabab gunmen is unforgivable and unjustifiable.
It is the second atrocity carried out in Kenya by Somali gunmen, the previous having been the 2013 attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi which killed 72. It is useful to see the two attacks in context.
Somalis are an important minority in Kenya and have been involved in what happens there, sometimes violently, since the pre-independence period. The flag of the old Somalia had a five-pointed star at its center. One point stood for the part of Kenya the Somalis considered theirs.
Somalia has been in violent turmoil since 1991, the last time it had a recognized national government. Since then it has had various governments, in different parts of the country, for the most part financed and constructed by outside powers, including the United States, from exiled politicians. The former British Somaliland is the most stable of them. Those leaders who have managed to stay in power for reasonable periods of time in Mogadishu, the capital, have done so only with substantial military protection from outside parties.
Kenya, as a bordering country, has automatically been in the fray. So have other African nations. In addition to Kenyan Somalis, Kenya has also accepted the arrival of thousands of Somali refugees. They cross the border between Kenya and Somalia pretty much at will. Kenya has had thousands of troops in Somalia itself since 2011, propping up various provisional governments in Mogadishu, keeping al-Shabab out of power.
That is the crux of the matter from the point of view of al-Shabab – Kenyan military interference in Somali affairs. The United States is involved as well to the degree that it has prompted Kenya to use its military in Somalia.
Kenya launched retaliatory airstrikes on Somalia Sunday and Monday for the Garissa attack. The policy question for the United States, as well as Kenya, is whether continued intervention in Somalia serves a useful purpose, considering the rising cost.
Khaleej Times, Dubai, on Fidel Castro:
The fraternity among the Latin American politicians is unparalleled. That is why from the days of Che Guevara to Jose Mujica, what was common among them was to take a holistic look and maintain a safe distance from the swirls of capitalism. Cuban leader Fidel Castro, despite his ailing health, reportedly took to the streets of Havana in what was seen as an endorsing campaign for Venezuela. The veteran leader – who no more involves himself in government affairs – met a delegation of Venezuelan officials on a solidarity mission to Cuba, and helped them read his mindset.
The message was simple and clear: Castro wants the leadership in Caracas to hold the ground firmly, and not to get distracted by socio-economic woes that are plenty these days. The former Cuban president has a legacy of his own in interacting with Venezuela, as he is the one who had a close nexus with Hugo Chavez and ensured that the regime should not collapse as the Soviet Union ceased to exist.
This time, too, Castro disbursed his pearls of wisdom to the visiting businessmen and delegates, telling them squarely that they should not succumb to alleged pressure from the United States. Washington’s row with Caracas is no state secret, and Cuba has a direct stake in it if President Nicolas Maduro’s position is compromised. It remains to be seen with what effectiveness Castro rewrites the fine print of reconciliation that his own country is undergoing these days with Uncle Sam. The Cuban leader definitely will have a cautious word or two add in the script.