Best columns: International
Guards, guards everywhere, but no security
Russia is more policed than ever, but Russians are no more secure, said Alexander Minkin. Since President Vladimir Putin came to power 17 years ago, “state security has become the national idea.” Untold sums have been spent as the “whole country has been crammed with security gates.” Once found only at airports, now such checkpoints are “in schools, courts, shopping malls, at every entrance to the metro, in museums, everywhere.” Has there ever been any evidence that such a gate has, even once, stopped a terrorist? “In all these years there has been no such report.” And most of these checkpoints also have guards, dim-witted types whose “faces instill total certainty that they are incapable of providing any sort of security.” Surely, if a bad guy came by, “before they had time to open their mouths, the guards would be lying on the ground with holes in their heads.” Proof that all this expenditure is just for show came earlier this month when a terrorist attacked the St. Petersburg metro. An ethnic-Uzbek jihadist waltzed past security with a bomb in a briefcase and detonated it on a train, killing 14 people. Russians are now aware that our guards and gates don’t keep us safe, but don’t expect the authorities to do anything. “They never travel by metro.”
Our next president must not lie
The Korea Times
Is it too much to ask for our next president to have a little integrity? asked Park Yoon-bae. South Koreans are going to the polls in May to replace former President Park Geun-hye, who was stripped of power in March over allegations that she extorted from businesses, took bribes, and engaged in other wrongdoing. Koreans are disgusted with Park, but she was hardly the first president to mislead us. Syngman Rhee, our first leader, told us at the outbreak of the Korean War to remain in Seoul, saying on the radio, “Every Cabinet member, including myself, will protect the government.” In fact, he had already fled the city and was in hiding. This duplicity set a sad pattern for leaders to follow. Chun Doo-hwan lied while president—covering up the 1987 police torture and killing of a protester—and after stepping down in 1988, claimed he had no fortune, but was later found to have squirreled away some $150 million. Kim Dae-jung promised to leave politics after losing a 1992 presidential election, but five years later he ran again and won, proving that the voters forgave his lie. Why do we tolerate this? Lying by a president “constitutes a betrayal of the people and the nation.” In these frightening times, we need a leader we can trust.