US plan to defeat IS, geopolitics of soccer, Britain's changing role, Ukraine's civil society, UN efforts in Syria

A round-up of global commentary for the June 15, 2015 weekly magazine.

Militant Website via AP/File
An undated image posted on a militant website on Jan. 14, 2014, shows ISIS fighters marching in Raqqa, Syria.

The National / Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
To defeat Islamic State the US needs a grand plan beyond Iraq
“Retired [US] Gen. [David] Petraeus has called for a new grand plan for Iraq that will marry political and military strategy to root out the [Islamic State] threat,” states an editorial. “The Iraqi military ... forms a core component of his plan.... Gen. Petraeus ... left out a core point – the regional geography of the [IS] threat. [It] doesn’t operate in an Iraqi vacuum. If you want to defeat [IS], you have to turn your attention to solving the Syrian crisis and then expand your view, right the way across the region. Therefore, any cohesive plan to degrade and ultimately destroy [IS] has to run through Damascus.... American attempts to beat [IS] in Iraq appear to hinge on efforts to push the extremist group back to its stronghold in Syria.... [T]his containment strategy will not [address] the core problems that [IS] presents for the region as a whole.”   

The Guardian / London
A great divide between soccer’s haves and have-nots
“The lessons of this protracted debacle will not all be immediately learned,” states an editorial about the indictment of FIFA officials and subsequent resignation of its president, Sepp Blatter. “But what is absolutely clear is that [FIFA] lacked any effective system of internal challenge.... Even more radically, the business of the World Cup could be divorced from the charitable affair of disbursing money to new footballing nations.... Great care must be taken that this miserable, damaging affair does not stoke wider geopolitical tensions between the developed and developing world.”

The Telegraph / London
Britain’s changing role in global affairs
“[Forty] years ago [Britain] voted by 2:1 ... to confirm membership of the European Economic Community,” states an editorial. “But what many expected to be nothing more than a ... trading arrangement ... has turned into something different.... [S]hould we leave the [European Union] and plough our own furrow?... We have reduced military spending to the point where projecting hard power overseas is no longer an option. This has had an impact diplomatically: where the biggest foreign policy challenges are concerned, notably Syria and Ukraine, this country has taken a back seat, if it has even been in the car at all.”

The Moscow Times / Moscow
Ukraine’s civil society is rising
“The post-Maidan government in Ukraine has been entrusted with the ... challenge of reforming the country from the ground up...,” writes Nicholas Kaufmann, a public affairs consultant based in Brussels. “While most observers were focusing on the high-level negotiations between Kiev and the [International Monetary Fund], a silent revolution was taking place in the background.... Where the state foundered, civil society rose up to fill the gap: militia battalions maintained order, volunteer groups distributed aid while established organizations redirected their work to assist people in the war-torn east.... [W]e should no longer consider Ukrainian civil society as an empty abstraction, but one of the country’s most powerful vehicles of modernization.”

The Daily Star / Beirut, Lebanon
United Nations’ failed efforts in Syria
“Reeling from recent battlefield losses, the regime of [Syrian President Bashar al-Assad] responded ... by killing dozens of Syrian civilians with airstrikes,” states an editorial. “The aircraft targeted territory held by rebels as well as places held by [Islamic State] jihadis, but the common denominator appears to be that civilians form the overwhelming majority of the victims.... The U.N.’s efforts on Syria can be summed up as follows: empty words, false hopes, a bit of work for a handful of bureaucrats, and some media events. After a security resolution was passed warning against the use of chemical weapons, chlorine has been used in several-dozen instances. There have been recent reports about regime forces receiving humanitarian aid that was supposed to go to the needy.”

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