The following are excerpts from editorials in other newspapers across New England:
Policing the world
Overshadowed in the debate over whether or not the U.S. should respond militarily to Syrian leader Bashar Assad’s use of chemical weapons against his populace is the more fundamental question of why 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 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. But while tea partiers fear the UN as a monolithic, one-world government that will at some point sweep through America collecting guns and imposing taxes, it may in fact may be one of the most ineffectual organizations ever invented, tied in knots by its own rules.
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.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said last week 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.