Best columns: International
How they see us: Abandoning the people of Aleppo
“The humanitarian carnage in Aleppo will leave an indelible stain on President Obama,” said Derek Burney and Fen Osler Hampson in The Globe and Mail (Canada). The relentless bombardment of the city’s rebel-held eastern areas by the Syrian regime and its ally Russia has killed thousands of civilians, including hundreds of children. Some 250,000 people, 100,000 of whom are kids, are still trapped in the opposition redoubt. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has engaged in endless Syrian peace negotiations with Russia and has repeatedly called for an end to the horrific onslaught. Yet Russian President Vladimir Putin and Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad have been able to ignore Kerry because of the Obama administration’s “reluctance to back diplomacy with force.” Putin, by contrast, has been decisive. He knows what he wants: to “gain respect at home by striking a strategic blow against the West.” He’s doing that. And Syrian children’s bodies keep piling up.
That’s a lie, said Yevgeny Shestakov in Rossiyskaya Gazeta (Russia). Just as the Western media “faked atrocities in Ukraine” and blamed them on Russian forces, so now they are faking civilian deaths in Syria. Western media outlets have long been thoroughly infiltrated by the CIA, and “so-called humanitarian groups” inside Syria are on the CIA payroll. The recent viral video of a 5-year-old Syrian boy covered in dust and sitting “with unnatural calm” after supposedly being dug out of rubble in Aleppo by the White Helmets group was “clearly staged.” In fact, Russia takes incredible care to target only terrorists and not harm ordinary Syrians in eastern Aleppo: Just this week it announced a humanitarian pause to its bombing campaign so that civilians could safely leave the city.
You can’t negotiate with a Russia that consistently lies, so what is Obama supposed to do, exactly? asked Jonathan Freedland in The Guardian (U.K.). Imposing a nofly zone unilaterally over Aleppo “would be a declaration of war on Russia as well as on Assad.” Everyone feels sorry for the Syrians, but nobody wants World War III. If we can’t reach a long-lasting cease-fire, which seems to be the case, the least worst option may be “for Syrian government forces to retake the whole city.” At least the hungry, warbattered residents of eastern Aleppo would get “the chance to rebuild their lives.”
So Putin wins, said Marwan Bishara in AlJazeera.com. Russia has been using negotiations as a stalling tactic all along, engaging in polite multinational discussions in Switzerland while its overwhelming firepower helps Assad recapture more territory. And Moscow “has made it clear it won’t give up in the negotiations what it won on the ground.” Aleppo reveals “the moral bankruptcy of international politics,” said Eyad Abu Shakra in Asharq Al-Awsat (U.K.). Russia covers for Assad’s genocide, while the U.S. “sulks and walks away.” The Obama administration is simply “leaving to its successors all the consequences of its failures.”
A backlash against immigration
The Globe and Mail
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is forcing immigration down Canadians’ throats, said Margaret Wente. Don’t get me wrong: Canada is one of the most successful, immigrant-friendly countries on Earth, and we are justifiably proud of that. But there is a limit. “In the past year, the government brought in 320,932 immigrants and refugees—one-third more than the year before.” Two-thirds of Canadians now believe that prospective immigrants should have to pass a “Canadian values test” to settle here, and even more think that minorities already here should do more to fit in. Some pundits have taken those figures to mean that “the rise of Trumpism” has emboldened Canadians to unleash their long-dormant, inner racism. But that’s unfair. Opposition to this rising influx does not make someone racist. Trudeau’s government claims that immigration will “revive the fortunes of flagging towns,” but immigrants rarely move to the boondocks and start businesses. No, they go to the cities, where the jobs are, and they compete with the rest of us for housing and services. Trudeau talks about what Canada must do for them but not what they must do for Canada. If his Liberal Party continues to ignore the genuine concerns of ordinary voters, it is “asking for a backlash.”
Making sexist jokes isn’t good foreign policy
The Daily Trust
Joking about keeping your wife in the kitchen doesn’t go over well when you’re standing next to the world’s most powerful woman, said Abu Najakku. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari made this stupid gaffe in Germany last week, at a press conference with Chancellor Angela Merkel. Someone asked him about his wife Aisha’s recent, shocking comments that there was a “cabal” in his party manipulating political appointments and that unless Buhari cleans up the administration, she may not vote for him next election. Instead of just “laughing it off,” Buhari sniffed that since he has more political experience than Aisha, “I claim superior knowledge over her.” Then he added that his wife “belongs to my kitchen and my living room and the other room.” Buhari is not a misogynist— after all, he made a point of “educating Aisha and his many daughters.” But Merkel was appalled, and the incident has entirely overshadowed our president’s otherwise successful visit to Germany. It’s time for Buhari, 73, to get himself a political adviser, someone who can anticipate potentially troubling questions and “proffer inoffensive but intelligent retorts for the president well ahead.” Winging it is not good for him, his foreign policy, or for our nation.