Southeast Asian security on surer footing, In defense of referendums – but reformed, The misconception of lone wolf far-right terrorists, A fresh start for Somalia?, The resonance of Obama's farewell speech

A roundup of global commentary for the Feb. 27, 2017 weekly magazine.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
President Barack Obama speaks during his farewell address at McCormick Place in Chicago, Jan. 10.

The Japan Times / Tokyo

Southeast Asian security on surer footing

“[Japanese] Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s summit with U.S. President Donald Trump reinforced the security guarantees iterated by U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis on his visit to Japan and South Korea the week before...,” writes Stephen R. Nagy. “[W]ith the Japan-U.S. alliance as the cornerstone of Japanese security policy in the region, Japan, both out of necessity and self-interest, will need to step up its commitment under a Trump administration that is inclined to demand more from its alliance partners.... At the security level, Abe and Southeast Asian countries should be relieved by the explicit support for Japan’s sovereignty claims, commitment to the alliance and the initiative to form a Security Consultative Committee (two plus two) meeting that includes each country’s foreign and defense ministers.”

The Guardian / London

In defense of referendums – but reformed

“Four features of the EU referendum give cause for concern,” writes John Curtice. “First, the promise to hold one was only made because [former Prime Minister] David Cameron found it politically convenient.... Second, the campaign period was relatively short.... [Third,] there was no detailed proposal as to what might happen if voters did vote to leave the EU.... [Fourth,] the EU vote was the second referendum bite at the European cherry.... Referendums have been used in Britain during the last 40 years primarily to settle questions about how we should be governed.... These are crucial decisions – but ones where politicians themselves often have a vested interest.... Meanwhile, democracy relies on the consent of the governed.... Setting up new institutions – or retaining existing ones – whose existence a majority opposes runs the risk that their decisions will no longer be respected.... So Britain should not banish referendums.... But instead of being ad hoc affairs held at the whim of politicians, it is time to lay down some systematic rules about when a referendum should be held – and should not.”

The Local / Stockholm

The misconception of lone wolf far-right terrorists

“Terror and violence carried out by extremists of various persuasions have been continuously present for many years...,” writes Christer Mattsson. “But while it is easy to find links, both real and less probable, between people who execute Islamist violence and various Islamist organizations or ideas, it has been distressing to see how racist perpetrators are instead seen as loners and madmen.... [I]t is time to state loud and clear that there is an obvious connection between those everyday racist stereotypes creating meaning for the hateful keyboard warriors online and those who use deadly force to create a racially pure nation.”

Standard Digital / Nairobi, Kenya

A fresh start for Somalia?

“The build-up to the Somalia presidential elections was anything but peaceful...,” states an editorial. “Al-Shabaab militias still roam the capital, Mogadishu, despite the presence of peace keepers.... The determination by Somalia’s neighbours, who bear the brunt of Al Shabaab and the African Union, has been to ensure Somalia must find its footing again.... It is up to [the newly elected President Mohamed Abdullahi] Farmajo to unite Somalia’s fractured people and transform it from a pariah state, a breeding ground for terrorists[,] to a stable country.”

The Royal Gazette / Hamilton, Bermuda

The resonance of Obama's farewell speech

“When outgoing US President Barack Obama lamented the state of democracy in his farewell address to the American public ... one can only hope that prominent members of our own community were listening...,” states an editorial. “[As Bermuda] heads into a general-election year ... we could do worse than reflect on Obama’s finely crafted words.... Let us hope that ... we can stop short of undermining democracy itself and reward those who stand for old-fashioned reason and sensible compromise....”

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