North Korea’s impending famine, President Trump’s siding with Sunni leaders, Nigeria’s agencies can learn from offshore professionals, Jerusalem attack gave Israel pretext to heighten security, Journalists shouldn’t be distracted by Trump’s tweets

A roundup of global commentary for the Aug. 7, 2017 weekly magazine.




Lee Jin-man/AP
South Korean workers load packs of rice for North Korea into a Vietnamese ship at Gunsan port in Gunsan, South Korea on June 29, 2007.

The Japan Times / Tokyo

The moral dilemma around North Korea’s impending famine

“Warnings that North Korea may soon encounter its worst food shortages in decades raise three interconnected questions for the rest of the world,” states an editorial. “The first is what those other nations can do to alleviate suffering in North Korea. The second addresses the strategic dimension of assistance.... The third concerns the morality of linking the two – the humanitarian dimension and the security problem.... It is generally agreed that humanitarian aid and politics should not be linked, but the world has tried to link food aid to the state’s nuclear programs, to little if any effect. Nevertheless, the fundamental moral question remains.... [S]hould the rest of the world do what it can to ease the suffering of a public that is battered by the indifference of its leaders and the vicissitudes of nature?”

The News / Mexico City

President Trump’s siding with Sunni leaders is dangerous

“When Donald J. Trump made his first overseas trip as U.S. president to Saudi Arabia and spent half of the time during his 36-minute speech addressed to 50 Arab and Muslim leaders trashing Iran, he made it clear that, in the quickly intensifying Sunni-Shi’ite showdown, he was siding with the Sunnis...,” writes Thérèse Margolis. “The religious schism that is the dividing line between the Sunnis and Shi’ites began in 632, shortly after the death of the Prophet Muhammed.... And it is not going to go away simply because Saudi Arabia now has more political weight to throw around.... Donald Trump’s decision ... could lead to a global confrontation the likes of which we have not seen since the end of the Second World War.”

This Day / Lagos, Nigeria

What Nigeria’s anti-corruption agencies can learn from offshore professionals

“Recently, in Brazil, something happened that ought to invigorate our country’s half-hearted efforts to root out corruption,” states an editorial. “Former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva ... was sentenced to nine and half years in prison following conviction in corruption charges.... Much earlier, in 2016, Israel demonstrated that it operates a government of laws by sending to jail, 70-year-old Ehud Olmert, former prime minister, after a bribery charge was upheld by the country’s Supreme Court. However, in Nigeria, even though corruption is rife among top government officials and corporate leaders, there are hardly consequences.... [T]here are some grounds to hope that things may change. But that depends on the readiness of the anti-corruption agencies to learn from their more professional counterparts abroad....”

The Jordan Times / Amman, Jordan

The recent Jerusalem attack gave Israel pretext to heighten security

“As feared, after the recent Jerusalem attack [by Arab Israelis on Israeli police officers], the Israeli government immediately jumped at the opportunity to step up premeditated plans for the gradual usurpation of the Muslim noble sanctuary, Al Haram Al Sharif,” writes Hasan Abu Nimah. “But that does not mean that the attack was part of the Israeli plan, as some have rushed to speculate.... [However,] it still offered Israel the needed pretext to tighten its control on the Muslim shrine, and that nothing would have happened if the attack had not occurred.” 

The independent / London

Journalists should stop being distracted by Trump’s tweets

“Donald Trump [was] on Twitter again. [On July 22], he suggest[ed] that the presidential power of pardon might allow him to absolve himself of any conviction for collusion with the Russian government over his election,” states an editorial. “The US President has ‘the complete power to pardon,’ he said.... In a way ... he is right. His opponents ought to ... turn down the indignation dial. The Independent is not suggesting that Mr Trump is a good president ..., but we urge our readers to bear in mind two important points. One is that President Trump is not likely to be removed from office.... The second point is that the obsession with Mr Trump and his Twitter account is diverting attention from important questions.”

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