, Salem, MA

September 17, 2013

A look at what others are saying

The Salem News

---- — 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.

The Berkshire Eagle of Pittsfield

Fighting the right drug war

The right drug war, as the appearance of a member of the ultra-violent Sinaloa Mexican drug cartel in U.S. District Court in Concord on Sept. 2 demonstrates, is essential and remains underway. Hard drugs, like the ton of cocaine the gang hoped to distribute, destroy lives and fuel crime and corruption. Meanwhile, the wrong drug war, the half-century-long prosecution of people who possess small amounts of marijuana, is winding down, thanks to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who is attempting to bring sanity to drug laws that put far too many people behind bars. Both of Holder’s efforts deserve support.

Because meetings between representatives of the Sinaloa gang and FBI agents posing as members of a European crime syndicate took place in Portsmouth and New Castle, four of the alleged gang members will be tried in Concord. The gang and its rivals are often at war with each other and with Mexican authorities. The battles are brutal. Rivals are killed, kidnapped, tortured and decapitated. It is disconcerting, to say the least, that scenes from the inhumanly violent and insanely greedy world of international drug cartels will now be played out in a Concord courtroom.

The right drug war is also being fought in Manchester, where a raid on an auto repair shop recently led to the arrest of five people and the seizure of 100 grams of heroin, the biggest smack bust in that city’s history. The heroin the group planned to sell creates the addicts who are responsible for thefts from homes and cars and other crimes. The right drug war also needs to be fought against the makers and sellers of the drug known as Molly, an amphetamine with hallucinogenic properties. That drug is blamed for the recent deaths of several dance club patrons, including a young woman from Londonderry and a UNH student from Rochester, N.Y. It is drugs like these, which can easily kill the unwary, and hard drugs like heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine, that deserve to be targets if a war on drugs is conducted.

Marijuana, not so much.

— The Concord (N.H.) Monitor