The US is descending into tribalism, Nobel laureates say hold Myanmar accountable, Israel’s church taxes increase tensions over East Jerusalem, Threats of force not the answer in the South China Sea, German courts push a green shift in the auto industry

A roundup of global commentary for the March 12, 2018 weekly magazine.

Eugene Hoshiko/AP/File
Guided missile destroyer USS Lassen arrives at the Shanghai International Passenger Quay in Shanghai, China, for a scheduled port visit, April 8, 2008. The USS Lassen sailed past one of China's artificial islands in the South China Sea, Oct. 27, 2015, in a challenge to Chinese sovereignty claims that drew an angry protest from Beijing.

The Guardian / Lagos, Nigeria

The US appears to be descending into tribalism

“Tribalism stems from primordial, visceral and oftentimes fanatical sentiments and emotions...,” writes Irene Fowler. “Africa has all too often witnessed the end results of tribalism run amok which have manifested in institutionalized persecutory attacks, civil conflict and ... barbarity.... The current morass afflicting the American political landscape is being increasingly characterized by the U.S. press and political analysts as ‘tribal.’ The irony is palpable as African nations seemed to have conquered the worst of the tribal demons of decimation in our slow march towards functioning democracies. The strong support of U.S. administrations in these efforts was [once] guaranteed in their ... role as stake holders and exemplars of democracy.”

The Daily Star / Dhaka, Bangladesh

Nobel laureates remind us to hold Myanmar accountable

“The recent comments made by three Nobel laureates when they visited Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, have brought to the fore the need for the international community to be unanimous in taking concerted action against the genocide that forced more than a million Rohingyas to flee their homeland, Myanmar,” states an editorial. “Tawakkol Karman, Shirin Ebadi and Mairead Maguire, all Nobel Peace Prize winners ..., have called for those responsible for the killings, gang rapes and burning of villages to be tried in the International Criminal Court.... The international community has a responsibility to make Myanmar accountable for its actions....”

The Jordan Times / Amman, Jordan

Israel’s pre-Easter taxes increase tensions over East Jerusalem

“Jerusalem heads of churches ... have all decided to close down the doors of the Church of Holy Sepulchre in East Jerusalem in protest of Jerusalem municipality’s decision to levy taxes (Arnona) on church-owned properties in East Jerusalem on the pretext that they are not places of worship...,” states an editorial. “The intended measures of Jerusalem municipality also target churches’ right to sell church-owned lands or properties to private buyers.... Hitherto, no such taxes were ever imposed on church properties and no restrictions were ever imposed on the sale of properties belonging to churches in Jerusalem.... This whole provocative Israeli move further exacerbates tensions over the status of East Jerusalem, and puts both Muslims and Christians on a collision course with Israel.”

The Sydney Morning Herald / Sydney, Australia

Threats of force will not move China from the South China Sea

“When Malcolm Turnbull was in Washington [recently] the US hawks were out in force, parading their demands that Australia send warships on freedom-of-navigation exercises in shallow waters [in the South China Sea] that China’s now claiming as its own,” writes Nicholas Stuart. “Doing so would not merely be futile and pointless; nothing would demonstrate more effectively that China has already outmanoeuvred the West. No matter how often foreign ships sail through these waters, nothing will change the physical reality.... The way to change the situation isn’t through increasing the stakes and doubling down on threats of force.... [T]he way to resolve any issues is to talk.”

Deutsche Welle / Bonn, Germany

Germany’s courts shift green momentum to the auto industry

“In the early years of Angela Merkel’s time in office, she was known as the ‘climate chancellor’...,” writes Jens Thurau. “The problem is, she forgot to take Germany’s influential auto industry along for the ride into an eco-friendly future. The country’s carmakers reacted accordingly. They continued [to] build vehicles heavy on horsepower and neglected to develop electric alternatives.... Germany’s top administrative court has now accepted a complaint lodged by environmental activists. If air pollution levels continue to be higher than allowed ... then municipalities are now allowed to (and will eventually have to) keep diesel cars off the streets.... Germany is phasing out nuclear energy and has built thousands of wind and solar farms. Now the environmental momentum has shifted to the auto industry....” 

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