Editorials: Varela v. sea rescues; and Kavanaugh v. decency

Rescue at sea. US Navy photo of the formerly Panamanian flag vessel the Aquarius.

No high principle for letting people drown in the sea

There are practical and geopolitical reasons why the Varela administration has caved to pressures to cancel the Panamanian registry of the rescue ship Aquarius II. Let us not, however, hear any nonsense about Panamanian neutrality or international law.

Leaving distressed people to drown in the sea violates the most ancient customs of maritime law. It’s toxic to Panama’s long term interests as a maritime nation to allow this ancient principle to die.

Leaving those fleeing from war-torn Africa to that fate is taking sides. Can Panama deny a stand in favor of NATO countries’ interventions on that continent? Or can we blame it on international jihadi groups’ interventions? There is plenty of blame to go around. If many of those who are trying to cross perilous seas to more prosperous lands are driven mainly by economic aspirations rather than the direct terrors of war, they also come from a continent whose economy has been laid waste by wars.

Can it be reasonably said that societies into which these migrants desire entry are not able to properly take them in? Every racist and xenophobe would make that claim in every situation, but there are limits to what countries can do. Just like after World War II, the world had to address a major set of displaced person crises. There were camps for such refugees then, too.

The world needs to build and support some refugee camps for those fleeing from Africa and the Middle East. These camps should not be designed to punish but to allow some semblance of normal life until people can be resettled or returned. They should be camps with schools, with hospitals, with economies of their own.

But much more than those stopgaps, the outside warring parties – the US Africa Command, European forces, jihadi groups – need to withdraw. African countries need to enforce order on their own continent. The world needs something akin to the Marshall Plan to restart the economies of a vast continent that has been afflicted by so many wars for so long.

If Panama chooses to abandon its modest traditional roles as mediator, peacekeeper and place of refuge, the pros and cons of that ought to be debated. We actually can’t take everybody in. But let’s not misrepresent that as neutrality, nor as international law. It’s just the Varela administration caving to outside pressures.


white power gesture?

Kavanaugh’s disgrace goes way beyond

Just a sexual indiscretion as a teenager? More like being deeply into a rape culture, with a rich boy’s expectation of impunity.

That was then? Present tense, the guy employs and uses women as ornaments, in his job as a judge and in the ongoing Senate hearings.

And now we have the lawyer for Trump’s best known hooker, telling us that there is a third witness, and probably there are more.

Used to be, conservatives were for the prohibition of pornography and liberals were fore tolerating it. How did we get to the point of the central discourse in US public policy being so pornographic, both in the original and modern senses?

It’s about a rapacious power elite, and although Donald Trump has become the crude “reality TV” modern image of it, we can go way back in the Anglo-American Common Law, to the abuses that assembled the knights on the plain at Runnymeade to force King John to sign the Magna Carta. Arrogant dispossession of common people? Check. Forced marriages of widows, so that their property could be seized? Check. Conversion of the ancient public commons into the private hands of grasping usurpers with access to political power? Check. Read the Magna Carta and recognize an ugly side of human nature, and ancient versions of the selfish abuses of today’s Republican Party. You can go farther back and read it in the holy scriptures of most of the world’s religions, too. A new low? Caligula and Nero would beg to differ.

Of course they see no big deal about a member of their aristocratic clique taking liberties with women, or for that matter taking just about anything else. The basic issue with Brett Kavanaugh and the Republican Party is neither perversion nor drunkenness, but abuse of power with a presumption of entitlement.


Bear in mind…


We are going to free ourselves from mental slavery because whilst others may free the body, none but ourselves can free the mind.
Marcus Garvey


Be less curious about people and more curious about ideas.
Marie Curie


In Greece we’re too poor to go to psychiatrists — we have friends instead.
Melina Mercouri


~ ~ ~
These announcements are interactive. Click on them for more information.


vote summer 18

bw donor button



vote final




Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

I accept the Privacy Policy