EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

September 23, 2013

Editorial: A look at what others are saying


The Eagle-Tribune

---- — The following are excerpts from editorials published by other newspapers across New England:

Overshadowed in the debate over whether or not the United States should respond militarily to Syrian leader Bashar Assad’s use of chemical weapons against his populace is the more fundamental question of why is it that the United States is always expected to take this kind of action in response to bloodshed in Libya, Iraq or elsewhere in the Middle East? President Obama said that the credibility of the international community is at stake in Syria but credibility cannot be at stake if it doesn’t exist.

The United Nations was essentially invented to address knotty issues like this one. It may in fact may be one of the most ineffectual organizations ever invented, tied in knots by its own rules.

A case in point is Russian President Vladimir Putin’s assertion that an American attack on Syria would be a violation of the UN Charter, which states that only its Security Council can authorize such action. As a permanent member of that Council (as is the United States), Russia has veto power over any action authorized by the council. It is the height of cynicism for the Russian leader to declare that the administration must go through the UN Security Council for approval of an attack when he has made it clear his nation will block any such action. So much for the UN.

The Arab League is easy to overlook when a Middle East crisis erupts because the league invariably makes itself scarce. Terrified of offending one constituency or another it is left to wring its hands. Whether it is an internal crisis like the one in Egypt or the presence of al-Qaida in Yemen, the Arab League can’t be counted upon to be part of a solution.

Secretary of State John Kerry said that the civil war in Egypt poses a threat to Israel, Jordan and Turkey, and while true, those three nations have diplomats and armies and cannot expect Washington to do its dirty work and deal with the repercussions. Isolationism is dangerous because as the nation saw 12 years ago, events and groups around the world can deeply impact the United States. But this nation is not the world’s policeman, and after Iraq and Afghanistan may never be again.

— The Berkshire Eagle of Pittsfield (Mass.)

Detroit may rise again

If geography alone were destiny, Detroit would be a thriving metropolis. It has a fine waterfront on the Detroit River and Lake St. Clair, proximity to two Great Lakes — Huron and Erie — a border with Canada, and is close to Chicago and other great Midwest cities.

But as we know, Detroit is an economic and physical mess, turned into one at the hand of humankind. Its population, 700,000, is less than half of what it was at its peak. The automakers that once fueled the city’s prosperity are coming back, but with a fraction of the workforce they once employed. Some 78,000 houses and buildings are abandoned.

The “good” news may be that Detroit is in bankruptcy. The courts could relieve it of punishing debt, letting the city begin restoring services. As important, bankruptcy could give business and civic leaders breathing space to put into action a plan for reinventing Motown. This is also an opportunity for Detroit to work on changing its civic culture of accepting government corruption.

But what should the new Detroit look like? We have suggestions.

First, it will be a lot smaller than the old Detroit. The city has an infrastructure built for 1.7 million people. Largely vacant neighborhoods should be returned to nature.

Second, it should strive to attract diverse businesses. The dangers of relying on one industry became painfully clear when Detroit’s automakers fell into deep decline.

Photos of the devastated sections of Detroit recall those of bombed-out European cities following World War II. The cities of Europe came back as changed entities. So can Detroit and other hard-luck towns of the industrial Midwest. They will look different, but they can rise again.

— The Providence Journal