July 9, 2014

A wake-up call

The declaration of a new Islamic state in the Middle East by Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi should be the wake-up call that the world has needed about the issues boiling throughout the Middle East since the United States first attempted to proclaim its best defense was going on offense in Iraq more than a decade ago.

The Arab Spring movement three years ago led to instability, and opportunity arose with the departure of U.S. troops from Iraq.

On the face of it, at least dealing with a state should be easier than dealing with the shadowy life of al-Qaida and its terrorist cells waiting to strike at any moment seemingly anywhere. No matter how reclusive, a country cannot completely hide, ever. Not North Korea. Not China. Not Iran.

But states can still sponsor terrorism and foment war.

We expect nothing less of the supposed Islamic State.

Continuing to debate whether the U.S. ever belonged in Iraq, over a continued American presence there, over whatever mistakes have been made during the past dozen years won’t change the new reality: There is a person with the means to have conducted a rapid takeover of large areas, to declare himself the leader, to run over or force out any opposition. It’s a new day in the Middle East, and it must be dealt with by more than the United States. — The Steubenville Herald-Star

Addressing veterans

Leaders in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives hope to reach agreement soon on a bill addressing the Department of Veterans Affairs scandal. Among other things, it calls for veterans to get medical treatment from the private sector if they are placed on long waiting lists by the VA.

That would be progress. But another major section of the bill, allowing the VA to expand its facilities, is part of an old pattern in Washington. It is to throw taxpayers’ money at a problem and hope it will go away.

But what of VA officials accused of keeping veterans on long waiting lists for care, then lying about it? Little has been said about consequences for them — to discourage similar misdeeds in the future.

Until that is addressed, don’t count on the VA truly improving much. — The Warren Tribune Chronicle