EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

September 9, 2013

Editorial: A look at what others are saying

The Eagle-Tribune

---- — The following are excerpts of editorials in newspapers from across New England:

Nidal Malik Hasan, the Army psychiatrist who shouted “Allahu akbar!” and opened fire at Fort Hood, in Texas, killing 13 people and wounding 30 others, has been found guilty on all counts. He refused to defend himself and apparently wants to be executed. That would make him a martyr to Islam, at least in his own mind.

A jury in the military proceedings against Hasan Aug. 28 sentenced him to be executed. We oppose the death penalty. Others do not. But what remains especially irksome to many Americans, and especially Hasan’s victims and their families, is the Army’s decision to categorize the crime as “workplace violence.”

That should be changed.

Hasan’s attack on American soldiers was an act of terrorism. Its designation is more than a matter of semantics. Health and other benefits to injured survivors and the rights of their families and those of the deceased to damages in civil suits are reduced if the act is designated as workplace violence. That is unfair to all involved.

Even more important, the designation is a crime against the facts and the truth. Hasan planned the attack because, he said, he opposes U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq. He acted on the basis of beliefs characterized (and not denied by him) as Islamist — the violent strain of fanatical Islam that motivates most recent terrorist attacks overseas and in the United States.

The U.S. government should not be trying to minimize the threat that terrorism poses to the peace of the world, the safety of Americans and U.S. interests abroad.

An official decision to go into denial regarding terrorism seems the only rationale for calling Hasan’s attack “workplace violence” — other than the pusillanimous desire to save money by withholding service benefits from deserving military families.

— The Providence Journal

Missiles, then what?

According to President Barack Obama, the theory behind a military response to the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons against its people is that it would teach Syrian President Bashar Assad a lesson.

Said Obama during an Aug. 28 interview with the PBS News Hour:

“And if, in fact, we can take limited, tailored approaches, not getting drawn into a long conflict, not a repetition of, you know, Iraq, which I know a lot of people are worried about — but if we are saying in a clear and decisive but very limited way, we send a shot across the bow saying, stop doing this, that can have a positive impact on our national security over the long term, and may have a positive impact on our national security over the long term and may have a positive impact in the sense that chemical weapons are not used again on innocent civilians.”

The notion of targeted missile strikes seems like both too much, yet somehow not enough.

Would limited missile strikes be better than sending in U.S. troops to get bogged down in another country’s civil war? Certainly. In that light, a restrained response is welcome.

But at the same time, lobbing a few missiles into Damascus also seems like the foreign-policy equivalent of the NCAA suspending Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel for a half against a 30-point underdog. It’s the old “better than nothing” approach to foreign policy.

But is it really? What if we use missiles and Assad continues to use chemical weapons against his people, which doesn’t seem particularly far-fetched. He’s used them once already and he’s a man trying desperately to keep his grip on power. And if he uses them again? What then? More missiles?

We agree that the use of chemical weapons is an abomination, but the response being contemplated seems to be that of a nation substituting a military response for the absence of genuine foreign policy.

— The Nashua Telegraph