U.S., world juggle crises

By Walt Braun

In a perfect world, there would be no international problems. In a nearly perfect world, there would be no problems that couldn’t be solved. In the world as it exists today, however, simply managing problems is challenge enough.

So it is that Iran, North Korea and Syria —three chronic trouble spots and three nations the United States dare not trust — are dominating headlines.

Iran is there again — or perhaps still —because, as the Associated Press reports, “Iran’s nuclear chief signaled Tehran’s envoys may bring a compromise offer to the talks this week with world powers…” Of course, Iran “may” be going through the motions again as it has for years, stalling “world powers” in their effort to thwart Iran’s determination to develop nuclear weapons.

Those nations will greet Iran’s offer with the skepticism it deserves, simultaneously seeking signs that Iran is being forthright while alert to the doubletalk that has characterized involvement. That doubletalk takes the form of insistence that Iran seeks only peaceful nuclear power combined with declarations that it can build whatever it wants.

North Korea plays the same treacherous game, though less artfully. Perhaps, as it claims, North Korea’s planned launch of a three-stage rocket in the next week really is intended to put an observation satellite into orbit. Pyongyang argues as if it expects other nations to believe it.

They might but for the fact that the rocket —the Unha-3 — also could launch missile technology that could target the United States, South Korea and other sites. North Korea in recent years has tested two nuclear devices but is still developing the technology to mount such devices on long-range missiles. Unfortunately, North Korea has given the world vastly more reason to be suspicious than to be trustful.

The rogue nation of the moment, however, is Syria, an ally of Iran’s and a kindred spirit of North Korea’s. Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad apparently is no longer content to destroy his country’s towns to quell a rebellion that began more than a year ago as peaceful demonstrations. His soldiers over the weekend took to firing on camps in Turkey that hold thousands of Syrian refugees, in the process risking conflict with that neighboring country.

He also seems to be reneging on a cease-fire negotiated late last month through the U.N. Security Council and the Arab League, which was to take effect today. Whether Assad is supremely confident or truly desperate is unclear, but the longer the world tolerates his ruthlessness, the more innocent Syrians will die.

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