Rex Tillerson’s Monroe Doctrine invocation was bizarre, Meeting between North and South Korea sparks hope, War between Israel, Syria, and Iran looks imminent, Social media normalizes stalking, Elon Musk proves the benefits of privatized space programs

A roundup of global commentary for the Feb. 26, 2018 weekly magazine.

Rebecca Blackwell/AP
United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (c.) greets members of Mexico's military as he arrives in Mexico for a two-day visit, at Benito Juarez airport in Mexico City, Feb. 1, 2018. Behind is US ambassador to Mexico, Roberta Jacobson. Tillerson's Mexico stop kicked off a weeklong trip to Latin America which took him to Argentina, Peru, and Colombia, with a final stop in Jamaica.

The South China MORNING Post / Hong Kong

Rex Tillerson’s invocation of the Monroe Doctrine was bizarre

“US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson started his tour of Latin America this month by invoking the success and relevance of the controversial two-century-old Monroe Doctrine,” writes Alex Lo. “If his intention was to mend fences and re-establish relations ... the reference was truly bizarre. He cited the doctrine against China’s supposed neo-imperialism because Beijing has expanded ties and economic plans across South America.... The doctrine has been a perfect example of American imperial hubris. That was why the Obama administration in 2015 repudiated it.... In the 19th century, the doctrine was invoked against European imperial monarchies; in the 20th, against communism and socialism..., and now, China.... [I]n ... the 21st century, it’s way past its use-by date.” 

The Tehran Times / Tehran, Iran

Olympic meeting between North and South Korea sparks hope

“A unique opportunity has been created for deescalating tension on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang on [Feb. 9] sent a delegation – led by North Korea’s ceremonial head of state Kim Yong Nam – to
Pyeongchang to attend the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in South Korea,” writes M.A. Saki. “Kim and his entourage including Kim Yo-Jong, the sister of [the] North Korean leader, were welcomed by South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyun at Incheon International Airport.... Now there are positive signs for a breakthrough in the turbulent relationship between Pyongyang and Seoul.... Washington seems to be unhappy about the ... engagement.... Now it is extremely expected that the North Korean leader respond positively ... by starting the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula....” 

The Jordan Times / Amman, Jordan

Full-scale war between Israel, Syria, and Iran appears imminent

“With [the] downing of an Israeli warplane on [Feb. 10] by Syrian air defences, followed by more Israeli strikes at Syrian and Iranian military targets in Syria, the stage could be set for further escalation of tensions between Israel and Syria that could extend to Iranian military presence in Syria and in due course to Hizbollah in Lebanon,” states an editorial. “The war rhetoric between Israel, on one hand, and Syria, Iran and Hizbollah on the other has become more bellicose than ever ... with pundits and military strategists on both sides of the fence now predicting eventually a full-scale armed conflict.... Major powers must get their acts together and come up with an initiative that would save the region from additional wars.” 

The Guardian / London

Social media is normalizing stalking and breaking down privacy

“Social media has normalised the kind of behaviour that would have been called stalking in any previous era,” writes Keza MacDonald. “Think about the lengths you’d have to go to to stare at your ex with someone else in the 90s; you’d have to actually follow them around, perhaps disguised as a hedge, or break into their house to steal photographs.... There has been a spike in technology-related stalking activities reported.... Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have normalised the idea of having access to people whenever we want, and slowly eroded the concept of personal privacy.... To stem it, tech companies will have to incorporate more humanity and foresight into their visions for the future.” 

The Japan Times / Tokyo

Elon Musk is proving the benefits of privatized space programs

“Billionaire Elon Musk has grand ambitions...,” states an editorial. “[H]is SpaceX program aims to ‘save humanity’ by reducing the risk of human extinction. SpaceX took a giant step forward [Feb. 6] when its Falcon Heavy booster propelled a privately funded payload out of Earth’s orbit for the first time ever.... For the first time in history, the most powerful rocket in the world is private property.... Significantly, it does the job for one-third the cost.... The cost savings have recalibrated the economics of space travel.... This is the basis of Musk’s dream of opening space to ordinary citizens.... His rivals – Blue Origin, backed by Jeff Bezos of Amazon and Rocket Lab, a New Zealand startup ... must now respond in kind.”  

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