North Korea: fresh approach needed, International justice under attack, Turkey’s departure from democracy, Britain’s challenge, Iran’s tumultuous relationship with the US

A roundup of global commentary for the Dec. 5, 2016 weekly magazine.

Noor Khamis/Reuters
A woman dances in Nairobi, Kenya, with an image of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, after his case at the International Criminal Court was dropped, Dec. 5, 2014.

The Interpreter / Sydney, Australia

North Korea: fresh approach needed

“Pyongyang has withstood the latest round of international sanctions, a spate of defections by North Korean elites, and deepening international diplomatic isolation...,” write Jana Hajzlerova and Michael Raska. “Current North Korea policies, based on sanctions and military pressure led by the US and coupled with South Korean unification policies, fail to address the geopolitical reality surrounding the Korean Peninsula, most importantly the interests of China.... An alternative strategy would be to shift the North Korean question away from the large structures of the international community, such as the UN, toward either individual countries or local regional platforms that are not hindered by the diversity of interests but rather build their policies based on shared historical experience.”

The Japan Times / Tokyo

International justice under attack

“The International Criminal Court is withering,” states an editorial. “The greatest threat to the untrammeled power of dictators and autocrats is being eroded as member states withdraw from the court’s jurisdiction.... [Recently] three African countries – Burundi, Gambia and South Africa – [withdrew].... [Then] Russia announced ... [it] would be pulling out.... Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte said that he too would follow Russia’s example.... The tragedy is that the ICC seems to be working. Some of the worst abuses have been attenuated as leaders around the world acknowledge the potential jeopardy that they can face.... [T]he court is not perfect but it has proven able to make a difference. It must not be allowed to fail.”

The Star / Toronto

Turkey’s departure from democracy

“Authoritarianism is on the march in many parts of the world,” states an editorial. “The latest sign [in Turkey] is a new clampdown on what remains of the country’s once-flourishing free press.... It’s all part of the broad crackdown that followed the failed coup attempt in July.... The result is a country rapidly tossing aside the robust democratic culture it had developed painfully over many decades.... [President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan is using a popular backlash against the coup plotters to crack down on enemies of all types, real and imagined.... Turkey’s sad slide away from freedom is not just a tragedy for that country. It’s a warning that democracy is fragile and can be quickly undermined if a society loses the will to fight for it.”

Chatham House / London

Britain’s challenge

“The twin pillars of British foreign policy for the last 40 years have been ... a close relationship with an Atlanticist United States committed to European security, and ... active engagement in shaping the direction of European integration,” writes Thomas Raines. “In less than five months, both pillars have been reduced to rubble.... [Prime Minister] Theresa May’s efforts to be sanguine about this new context ... are stretching credibility.... [She has spoken] of Britain’s ‘historic global opportunity’ to lead the world in meeting international challenges. The reality is rather starker. Britain is caught between a retrograde American administration with which it no longer shares a world view and a frustrated Europe it is trying to divorce.”

Al Arabiya / Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Iran’s tumultuous relationship with the US

“[D]uring the Iranian nuclear talks, the softer Iran represented by the government gained traction over the hard Iran represented by [the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps]...,” writes Camelia Entekhabi-Fard. “[W]hat they missed out on was the opportunity to improve their image. Hostile and frowning, Iranian diplomats didn’t miss a chance to label everyone their enemy.... The Iran of the IRGC didn’t seize upon President Obama’s generosity and extraordinary softness toward the Islamic Republic. The cold wind of change with the new administration in Washington is chilling and reminds me of the time when George W. Bush called Iran a part of the ‘Axis of Evil’ along with North Korea and Iraq.”

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