Sunday, February 25, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Prudent step on aid to Syrian rebels

The Obama administration was right to stop short Thursday of committing battlefield aid to the rebels fighting to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad. The $60 million package of medical and food assistance that Secretary of State John Kerry announced in Rome will help address the humanitarian crisis of a two-year-old civil war that has killed some 70,000 people, without moving the United States to take on a military role it cannot afford. The administration should resist the pressure from its European allies to intervene more directly, which would only prolong the fighting and add to the regional unrest and misery.

Kerry's announcement came as the Western coalition met in an effort to reach a breakthrough on a civil stalemate that shows no signs of abating. The United States already has provided $385 million in humanitarian aid to the war-torn areas, and another $54 million in nonlethal supplies to the Syrian opposition. The $60 million in new aid will help the rebels operate basic services in the liberated areas — a prelude to opposition forces to establishing their credibility with the local population. The allies also hinted Thursday that a more robust aid package is in the works for the coming weeks.

The money won't go far toward meeting a humanitarian crisis in which an estimated 4 million people have been forced from their homes. But it sends a signal to the Syrian people that the United States is not blind to their plight. And it tells the neighboring states of Turkey and Jordan that the United States recognizes the refugee problem as a global concern. More importantly, the measure will mark the first time that Washington has sent aid directly to the military wing of the opposition. It is an opportunity to test the rebels' competence in handling outside money and managing the heavy demand for civil and emergency services.

The administration was right to avoid the same degree of eagerness that Britain and France have shown to supply the rebels with so-called defensive military assistance, from body armor and armored vehicles to other equipment and training. The nonlethal aid is enough to bring a new sense of legitimacy to the main rebel group, the Free Syrian Army, without locking the coalition with an opposition force that still lacks discipline and ideological unity. Besides, defensive assistance can easily be converted into offensive uses, either by outfitting rebel forces directly or freeing up money for new ammunition and weapons. This is a recipe for increasing the fighting and funneling arms to autonomous rebel groups who come from outside Syria or who have no allegiance to a unified command.

The aid buys some time for the allies and Syria's opposition to build a level of confidence, and for Assad's enablers in Russia to follow through on prodding the Syrian regime toward a political settlement. It provides a front for the coalition to assess the rebels' makeup and capability at closer range. And it discounts, for now, the perception that the rebels are acting as proxies for the West. As tragic as the death toll is, there is no military magic on the horizon for either side. The right course now is to de-escalate the fighting, ramp up the diplomatic pressure on Russia and further isolate Assad. Before the West goes all in, it better know who it's behind.

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Editorial: Improve school security plans with gun controls

Editorial: Improve school security plans with gun controls

Gov. Rick Scott and key members of the Florida Legislature offered ambitious proposals Friday that would plug some holes in the stateís safety net, strengthen school security and spend up to a half-billion dollars in response to last weekís massacre ...
Published: 02/23/18
Editorial: Six proposals for reasonable gun control

Editorial: Six proposals for reasonable gun control

Enough is enough. The mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has renewed conversations about gun control in Washington and Tallahassee. Young people are demanding action, and there are cracks in the National Rifle Associationís solid w...
Published: 02/23/18
Editorial: The time to act on guns is now

Editorial: The time to act on guns is now

The nationís conversation on guns took an encouraging step this week in three essential places ó South Florida, Tallahassee and Washington ó as survivors, victimsí families and elected leaders searched painfully and sincerely for common ground after ...
Published: 02/22/18

Editorial: FDLE probe of state fair fiasco falls short

It should go without saying that Florida law frowns upon public officials who take freebies from vendors and whose agency throws business to their family. But that wasnít enough to move the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to find that the ex-di...
Published: 02/21/18
Updated: 02/23/18
Editorial: They value guns, not kids

Editorial: They value guns, not kids

They value guns over kidsSix days after 17 were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High by a teen-ager firing an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, the Florida House refused to even debate a bill banning the sale of assault weapons. The vote, 71 to 36, wasn...
Published: 02/21/18

Editorial: Nursing home rule should be stronger

It shouldnít take months or another tragedy for Florida ó which is hot and full of seniors ó to protect its elderly population from heat stroke in the event of an emergency. Thatís why Gov. Rick Scott had the right idea last year in calling for nursi...
Published: 02/20/18
Updated: 02/23/18
Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are traveling to the state capital today and declaring "never again.íí A prominent Florida Republican fundraiser vows he wonít raise another nickel until his party approves new gun controls. Across F...
Published: 02/19/18

Editorial: No more doubt about Russian meddling in election

The latest indictment by the Justice Department special counsel, Robert Mueller, refutes President Donald Trumpís claims that Russian interference in the 2016 election was a Democratic hoax. The indictment details the lengths Russian conspirators too...
Published: 02/19/18

Another voice: Tips should belong to workers, not their bosses

The Trump administration is under fire for proposing a Labor Department regulation that could result in hotel and restaurant employers dipping into the tips customers leave for their employees, depriving the nationís 14 million hard-working restauran...
Published: 02/18/18
Updated: 02/20/18
Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Itís not popular in Washington or virtually anywhere else these days to express concern about the rising federal deficit. Congressional Republicans who used to be deficit hawks first voted to cut taxes by $1.5 trillion over the next decade, then rais...
Published: 02/17/18