Editorial Roundup: Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the US and abroad

Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States and abroad:


Sept. 8

Miami Herald on migrant crisis in U.S. and Europe:

In Miami, where flight and exile are part of the personal experience of so many, the dramatic images of immigrants in Europe desperately seeking refuge are particularly searing. Our identification with those fleeing danger pleads for a humane response to this crisis.

Understandably, European governments were initially stunned by the huge waves of migrants making the perilous trek from Syria, as well as from Libya and North Africa. Germany alone has received more than half a million asylum-seekers this year. Europe at first lacked the means to cope with so many arrivals who needed food and shelter.

Slowly and to their credit, advocates of opening the door widely — led by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country seems to be the most desired destination — took a valiant stand. "If Europe fails on the question of refugees, then it won't be the Europe we wished for," she said. Last week, Ms. Merkel and President François Hollande of France called for the European Union's 28 members to accept refugees by quota allocation and for new reception centers in Italy and Greece.

Bravo for them. But some countries — Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic — are being unhelpful. They should rethink their position. Doing nothing is neither right nor practical. Europe's strength lies in unity. Refusing to take part in a common response makes the problem worse.

But while Europe is bearing the immediate brunt of the crisis, the blame is widely shared, though not widely acknowledged. Among the most conspicuously negligent are Persian Gulf countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. They all have failed to accept Syrian refugees, even though they are immediate neighbors and ethnic kin.

One way for them to play a useful role, if they cannot take in refugees themselves, is to contribute more — which they can easily afford — to various United Nations programs to aid the victims. Chief among these is the World Food Program, which helps feed refugees in camps in Lebanon and elsewhere in the region. Ensuring that children can go to school while they are stranded in the camps is another urgent need these countries can fulfill — and they should.

And what of the United States? This country is hardly in a position to lecture Europe or anyone else on immigration, not when we're locked in an embarrassing debate about building unrealistic walls, mass deportations and so forth. And worse yet, the United States is failing in its obligations to do more.

It was the United States, after all, that more than 10 years ago plunged headlong into a regime-change operation in Iraq. Its ultimate consequences include the turmoil in Syria and Libya fueling the migrant crisis. Yet, after four years of civil war, this country has agreed to accept only about 1,500 Syrians — a tiny number compared to the 11.6 million people who have fled the conflict.

The United States has provided some $4 billion in humanitarian aid, more than anyone else, but money alone is not the answer. On Tuesday, the White House said it was considering a "range of approaches," apparently in response to being called out for an inadequate response.

The security concerns are obvious, but taking in more refugees should certainly be an option. Ultimately, the best solution is finding a way to end the civil war in Syria. The United States can't do it alone, but it must act with urgency before the wave of refugees becomes even greater.



Sept. 9

The TimesDaily, Florence, Alabama on same-sex marriage:

As a nation founded on religious liberty, America usually has gone out of its way to accommodate matters of sincere faith. At the same time, however, it remains a balancing act. Rendering to God what is God's comes alongside rendering to Caesar what is Caesar's.

In wartime we make allowances for conscientious objectors. States still allow exceptions for childhood vaccinations — despite the potential pitfalls for public health — because some parents have strenuous religious objections to vaccines. And so on.

But when you are a government employee, you, in a sense, work for Caesar. You should expect to have to render more than most people do.

That is why Kim Davis, the Rowan County, Kentucky, clerk jailed for contempt of court, was jailed for refusing an order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, in accordance with the U.S. Supreme Court's decision earlier this year invalidating state bans on same-sex unions.

Davis claims forcing her to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples is a violation of her religious liberty. This has won her no small amount of support on the right — especially from opponents of same-sex marriage and the Republican presidential candidates who want their votes.

During a rally last week in support of Davis, one pastor summed up her case succinctly.

"She said that she was doing this under God's authority," said Matthew Trewhella, a pastor from Wisconsin. "She is 1,000 percent correct. She is echoing what Western man has said for over 1,500 years now. And that is that divine law trumps human laws."

Yet virtually no one truly believes government officials such as Davis — an elected, Democratic office holder — get to choose which of their duties they will or will not perform based on personal religious convictions.

Imagine all of the possible religious objections one could raise to someone's marriage, and then imagine using those objections as reason to deny them a marriage license. This goes well beyond the religious objections many Americans used to have to interracial marriage. Many people still object to remarriage after divorce and marrying outside one's religion, to name two ready examples.

Do we want license clerks denying marriage licenses to people who are previously divorced? Of course not.

Allowing a clerk to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples is simply cherry-picking one potential objection over many others. Clerks are not meant to be priests.

Davis is a government official, and all people have a right to equal treatment under the law by the government that is supposed to represent all of us.

People forgo certain professions for ethical reasons all the time. If a person's beliefs prevent her from treating all people equally, maybe she should consider government jobs off limits.



Sept. 4

The News & Observer of Raleigh (North Carolina) on U.S. Iranian deal:

Even if President Obama hasn't tended well to congressional egos, he's certainly due credit for engineering a political victory on the Iran treaty that's good for the country.

He has ensured the affirmation of a multi-nation nuclear deal with Iran that will prevent that nation from developing a nuclear weapon for years to come. President Obama has gotten the votes he needs to protect the treaty from a resolution of disapproval from congressional Republicans.

Their credibility, in terms of their opposition, is virtually non-existent. They've been against everything Obama has done, and their 16 presidential candidates have used the nuclear deal for their own political convenience to the surprise of absolutely no one. This uniform stance has made the candidates look ill-informed. They want to just bash the president when they're not preoccupied with the ridiculous controversy they're trying to create over Hillary Clinton's emails.

GOP opponents have pronounced the deal a failure and called it dangerous and some kind of collapse to Iran by negotiators. It's none of those things. The president and America's allies are simply trying to prevent Iran from going further toward nuclear weapons, with a strong incentive of billions of dollars in eased economic sanctions. Republican presidential candidates have talked plenty tough about how they'll kill the deal when they take the White House. They would tighten sanctions on Iran and consider military action, something certain to get thousands of Americans killed if not start a long regional war.

Sadly, Israel's leadership, resistant to any treaty with Iran, has been vehement in its opposition, and its lobbyists have spent millions of dollars in the opposition effort. (Israel, of course, receives several billion dollars in aid each year from the United States.)

No treaty with a nation that has been hostile is a guarantee of global peace. But this treaty is a constructive step that is better than the alternative of continuing to starve Iran with sanctions and threaten it with military action. And one certainty has been that without a treaty, and without the lifting of economic sanctions, Iran would have continued working on developing a nuclear weapon.

Secretary of State John Kerry, a decorated Vietnam veteran and U.S. senator for more than 30 years, is not naive, and his part in the treaty negotiations proved it. The secretary looked out for the best interests of the United States and, yes, the rest of the world. If only Republicans could just once put aside political interest or the grab for the best catch phrase to use against the president, they'd be positively contributing to the political dialogue instead of trying to inflame it.



Sept. 8

The Wall Street Journal on Syrian refugees to Gulf Arab states:

As European states labor to rescue, feed and shelter hundreds of thousands of asylum-seekers from the Middle East, readers may be wondering what the wealthier states of the Arabian peninsula are doing for their desperate brethren. The answer is, pretty much nothing.

The office of the United Nations' High Commissioner for Refugees reports that in 2014 Saudi Arabia had accepted a grand total of 561 refugees and 100 asylum seekers. The United Arab Emirates has roughly the same number, with even fewer in Qatar and Bahrain. Only Kuwait does a little better, with about 1,700 refugees and asylum seekers.

Such are the kingdoms whose princes and diplomats routinely profess the brotherly solidarity of the Arab nation. And the policy is, if anything, more dismaying than the numbers. The Saudis stopped issuing work permits to Syrians in 2011 when the uprising against the Assad regime began. Gulf states also refuse to sign the U.N. convention governing treatment of asylum seekers. The Saudi contribution to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs amounts to a little more than $18 million — as compared to $1 billion from the U.S.

The Gulf states' nonfeasance hasn't gone unnoticed in the region. The twitter hashtag #Welcoming-Syria's-refugees-is-a-Gulf-duty has gone viral in recent days. Gulf leaders see it differently, worrying that a large influx of refugees will upset the political balance of their brittle kingdoms.

But don't think the Saudis and their brethren are completely unwilling to help. On Tuesday the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported that Riyadh is preparing 200 mosques for the Syrians arriving in Germany. If that's Saudi moral comfort, it's no comfort at all.



Sept. 7

The New York Times on affirmative action programs in India:

Protests by members of a relatively prosperous caste in India who want to be included in affirmative action programs highlight a major problem: India isn't creating enough good jobs. This is a big challenge to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has built his political career on promises to reform and modernize the stalled economy.

Different groups of Indians have often demanded government jobs and university admissions that are set aside for people from tribal communities and the lowest rungs of the caste system who are among the poorest in the country. But the recent protests by the Patel clan, of the Patidar caste, are significant because the group is part of the middle class and is from Gujarat, a state that grew rapidly when Mr. Modi ran it for 12 years before becoming prime minister last year.

The fact that 500,000 Patels, who have been a big part of Mr. Modi's electoral base, attended a rally late last month to press their demands is a rebuke of the prime minister's economic policies.

The Patidar campaign, which is led by a 22-year-old firebrand named Hardik Patel, seeks a bigger slice of the economic pie. But no matter how officials decide to allot government quotas for the underprivileged, the main problem is that there is not enough pie to go around.

With half of India's 1.2 billion people 25 or younger, the need to create more jobs is acute. Nearly half of all workers are employed in agriculture, a sector that produces just 17 percent of the gross domestic product. And most of the rest not in agriculture — about 85 percent in 2012, the latest year for which there is data — work for employers with fewer than 20 employees.

It should come as no surprise that young Indians, especially those in the middle class like the Patels, are frustrated. Many have college degrees but still cannot land the kinds of professional jobs that they want. About 25 percent of college-age Indians were enrolled in higher education in 2013, up from 11 percent in 2003, according to the World Bank.

In theory, the increased number of educated workers should help to expand the manufacturing and service sectors. But companies in India are unable or unwilling to expand because it is so hard to operate there.

Chronic energy shortages, for example, make it expensive or impossible to set up factories in many parts of the country. Federal and state labor laws requiring that large companies get government approval before laying off workers encourage businesses to stay small or hire contract workers. And it can be very difficult to enforce contracts, because Indian courts are backlogged with cases that drag on for years.

Before last year's election, Mr. Modi promised to create jobs by applying policies he had used to spur the Gujarat economy. So far, he has not been able to change many laws at the national level. And the protests in his home state raise serious questions about how successful his policies were for the average resident of Gujarat.

Mr. Modi now has less than four years before the next national parliamentary election to make good on his campaign pledge. If he doesn't show results soon, the young electorate that swept him into national office could just as easily vote him out.



Sept. 10

The Khaleej Times on British monarchy:

Even in the 21st century, the British monarchy is relevant. Queen Elizabeth II, by virtue of her longevity, has brought in new colours and dynamics to the institution. The widely-respected monarch's progressive thinking and acumen to handle political problems in the right perspective, without being seen as an interventionist, keeps her popular to this day. Though only a figurehead, the queen has exhibited exceptional leadership skills and remained a paragon.

One of the longest reigning monarchs in the world has brought in grace and dignity to the largely ceremonial office, but is never away from public life. That is why public interest in the affairs and life of the British royals remains strong and positive. Prime Minister David Cameron rightly described her as "a permanent anchor, bracing against storms and grounding us in certainty'.

Having named as Britain's 'greatest monarch', Queen Elizabeth II has a legacy of her own. She has acted as a unifying force, irrespective of the fact that the House of Commons is supreme and calls the shots. To this day, she has assented more than 3,500 Acts of Parliament, including a change to the law of succession that will allow first-born daughters to take precedence over later-born sons. This makes her the world's most popular feminist.

Ascending to the throne in 1952, Elizabeth's biggest contribution to the empire — where the sun never set — was to help evolve a voluntary Commonwealth of Nations. This has, in fact, strengthened democracy across the world, ultimately ending an era of colonisation. It is no less than a tribute to her personality that while many of the royals in her court were off and on accused of unbecoming activities, she has kept herself away from controversies. On Sept. 9 as she surpassed her great-great grandmother Queen Victoria's record on the throne, Britain's oldest-serving sovereign remains adorable, though she keeps historians and her constituents guessing when it comes to succession.