Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States and abroad:
Los Angeles Times on President Obama getting into fight with Islamic State:
President Obama insists that he has no plans to deploy U.S. combat forces in Iraq, even as he has promised to "degrade and eventually destroy" Islamic State. The White House sees no contradiction between these two commitments, but Americans are understandably anxious given the incremental escalation of U.S. involvement in the war against the group.
Last week Obama announced that he was sending an additional 450 military personnel to "train, advise and assist" Iraqi forces at a military base in eastern Anbar province. That deployment will increase the U.S. military presence to 3,550.
"This decision does not represent a change in mission," Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said. That's true if one dates the U.S. mission to Obama's announcement in September that he was launching a "comprehensive and sustained" effort to defeat Islamic State. Earlier, however, Obama had portrayed airstrikes in Iraq as a temporary measure designed to protect U.S. personnel and alleviate a humanitarian crisis.
The Times has supported the administration's more assertive policy with two provisos: that Obama abide by his promise not to deploy U.S. ground troops, and that he secure explicit congressional authorization. Obama has asked for such authority, but he has undermined the urgency of that request by insisting that he can legally prosecute a war against Islamic State under the congressional resolutions passed more than a decade ago to authorize force against the planners of 9/11 and the regime of Saddam Hussein. It's vital that Congress enact a new Authorization for Use of Military Force tailored to Islamic State, one that explicitly rules out the deployment of U.S. ground forces.
If defeating Islamic State is such a high priority, some might ask, why should the U.S. refuse to commit ground troops and instead rely on dispirited and disorganized Iraqi forces? The best answer to that is a sobering statistic: the nearly 4,500 Americans who lost their lives in Operation Iraqi Freedom, the protracted conflict that followed George W. Bush's disastrous decision to invade Iraq in 2003. The American people are understandably disinclined to see more fatalities on that scale in a conflict in which the interests of the U.S. are not directly threatened and in a region where our previous efforts have been so disappointing.
Obama is right both to try to defeat Islamic State and to do it without putting U.S. troops on the front lines. As he said in September: "This is not our fight alone. American power can make a decisive difference, but we cannot do for Iraqis what they must do for themselves, nor can we take the place of Arab partners in securing their region." Nothing that has happened since then has changed that fundamental reality.
Wall Street Journal on winning the war on terror:
The U.S. scored a noteworthy victory last week when an American missile killed Nasser al-Wuhayshi, the longtime leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the global organization's Number Two. Coupled with unconfirmed reports that an F-15 airstrike in Libya killed jihadist mastermind Mokhtar Belmokhtar, the strikes are a reminder that the war on terror continues, whatever the Administration calls it.
Yet the strikes are also a reminder that while killing senior jihadists has tactical and symbolic value_disrupting terrorist networks while underscoring U.S. resolve_they do not turn the tide of war. "Core" al Qaeda was not defeated after Osama bin Laden was killed in 2011, even if it was humbled. Neither was al Qaeda in Iraq beaten after the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in 2006. Killing the kingpins is necessary but not sufficient for victory.
That much was made clear by the way Wuhayshi met his end_near a beach in the Yemeni city of Al Mukalla, population 300,000. Al Qaeda took control of Al Mukalla in April, seizing close to $80 million from the central bank. The group now controls the better part of southern Yemen.
The same goes with Belmokhtar, who orchestrated the 2013 attack on an Algerian gas plant that killed 38 people and had pledged allegiance to al Qaeda's Ayman al-Zawahiri. If reports of Belmokhtar's death are confirmed_this wouldn't be the first time he's been presumed dead_it's a tactical coup for the U.S. and a moral victory for the terrorist's victims. But it does little to change the fact that jihadist groups, led by Islamic State, control significant territory in Libya, including Moammar Ghadafi's hometown of Sirte.
All of which is to say that the U.S. will not defeat its terrorist enemies by going after them one at a time. This is what makes the recent success of the Kurdish Peshmerga against Islamic State so promising. This week the Kurds defeated Islamic State to take control of the Syrian town of Tal Abyad, on the Turkish border. Now the Kurds are headed south to Islamic State's Syrian stronghold of Raqqa.
Success in Raqqa would be the most important victory to date in rolling back ISIS, which is why the U.S. should concentrate military efforts in support of the offensive. The Kurds are among our best anti-jihadist allies, and they deserve more support than the U.S. has provided so far.
The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Kentucky, on police shooting of Sudanese refugee:
Two very different lives.
Two paths to a tragic event.
Two men quite probably equally afraid.
Two pair of shoes.
Perhaps all it takes is an editorial cartoon to convey in a simple image and two short sentences the bigger message of what this community needs at a time like this.
As the people of Louisville work to understand the shooting death of Sudanese refugee Deng Manyoun by police Officer Nathan Blanford on Saturday, it is fitting that our contributing editorial cartoonist, Marc Murphy, reminds us that we should walk a mile in each of their shoes before we proceed as a community.
Yes, over the coming months we should re-examine the policies and training we give our police — and whether we're willing to spend more tax dollars to ensure we have the best trained force.
Yes, over the coming months we also should reconsider how we treat mental illness and addiction — and whether we're willing to spend more tax dollars to help those in need.
And, over the coming months we should discuss how we welcome refugees into our "compassionate city" as our population grows more diverse.
But we will only get to the right answers if we begin by walking a mile in many sets of shoes.
Taking that walk now also could reduce hasty conclusions that are spreading rapidly, especially on social media.
We've taken the unusual step of putting this cartoon and editorial on the front page to encourage all readers to walk in others' shoes and start a conversation that is civil and productive.
The Augusta (Georgia) Chronicle on how being black has been redefined:
Neither racial nor gender identity seems to matter anymore - but apparently your ideological identity is everything.
When Spokane, Washington, NAACP chapter president Rachel Dolezal, who seems to have tried to alter her appearance to appear black, was outed as a white woman, those on the left were oddly sanguine about it. In fact, firebrand Al Sharpton, rather than decry Dolezal, attacked her parents for outing her.
"If she wants to be black, she can be black," liberal comedian Whoopi Goldberg said.
Yet, commentator Laura Ingraham wondered Tuesday if Sharpton, Goldberg, et al., would've been as kind to Dolezal if she'd been a conservative.
We may have an answer.
MSNBC political analyst Michael Eric Dyson said:
"She may not be African-American, but she could be black in a cultural sense. ... She's taken on the ideas, the identities, the struggles. She's identified with them. I'd bet a lot more black people would support Rachel Dolezal than, let's say, Clarence Thomas."
Dyson talked about himself and others like him as "those who define race as a social construct."
Well, there you go. Race has been redefined. It's no longer a biological construct, but a social one. Your ideas - not your genealogy - define your race, according to Dyson.
Your race is defined by your ideas. And you're black only if you're liberal.
Dyson even repeated the oft-quoted canard that Bill Clinton was "the first black president."
All of this is not only goofy and bizarre, but it's tragic - because it's so needlessly confining for blacks. It's a message that if you're not liberal, you're not black. Exhibit A: Clarence Thomas. And if you're white, but you buy into liberal dogma, you can be black.
Such a notion may be liberating to liberal whites, but it's an attempt to keep blacks nicely in the liberal corral.
The truth is, Clarence Thomas not only has genuine African-American lineage, but had a legitimately African-American life experience - an amazing and inspiring one, if you've read his memoir.
Nor do conservatives such as Herman Cain or Dr. Ben Carson get any props for also being genuinely African-American. They have incredible life stories that, had they been liberal, would be part of the national consciousness by now.
It also makes you wonder: If a half-white, half-black Barack Obama who grew up in Hawaii had been a conservative Republican, would they have questioned his blackness, as they do Justice Thomas'?
What an odd place we have come to. Your race or gender don't define you anymore, but your ideology does.
Khaleej Times, Dubai, on Jurassic World:
There is something less obvious but deep-rooted within us that makes us so fascinated — or should we say spellbound — by dinosaurs. Jurassic World, sequel to a series of three hits called Jurassic Park, broke US and global opening weekend collection records by earning $205 million in North America and $512 million worldwide.
The movie is set to gross way more than the collective earnings of the three earlier versions, which was over $1.5 billion. This does not include sales from merchandise, books and theme parks that the movies spawned. Apart from the fact that these are well made movies — at least by popular perception_let's see what else draws us in droves to watch these super-sized creatures on silver screen.
Dinosaurs ruled the earth for 165 million years, adopting different shapes, sizes and forms for survival and scripting what scientists believe to be the most unqualified success in the history of life on the earth. Humans have been on this planet only for a period between two lakh to 25,000 years (just 0.12 per cent of the dinosaurs period). So, the sheer variety of dinosaurs offers moviemakers a very broad set of characters to play with.
Unlike comic characters — in the Avengers series, for instance — dinosaurs are not historically unreal. There have been clear and repeated evidence of their existence in most geographies. So, when we watch them moving on the screen, the experience is not completely unreal. The context is fictional, but the creatures could have been real. And given the advancements in medical science, it's easy to ask people to stretch their imagination and believe, at least while they are watching the movie, that dinosaurs can indeed be reborn.
Superhero movies often have super villains. Jurassic movies show dinosaurs as both heroes and villains — quite like the human beings. As we get addicted to more and more on dinosaurs, there is one aspect of their existence we can explore and understand better. What made dinosaurs, the most dominant of all species on land ever, to go extinct? Though there is no proven theory, it is said that diplodocus, the largest dinosaurs, ate up most of the vegetation within its reach and often died because of lack of food. As we demolish natural resources on earth, we have to wonder if a similar fate awaits us. That's a bigger-than-$512-million question.