US Press: pick of the papers

The ten must-read opinion pieces from today's US papers.

1. Tea Party: Savoring the red meat (Boston Globe)

The Tea Party movement insisted early on that its interest was economics, but the impassioned audience at the GOP debate cast the movement in a more disturbing light, says this editorial.

2. The GOP field goes AWOL from Afghanistan (Washington Post)

This editorial points out that the Republican candidates are largely ignoring the war in Afghanistan.

3. Bachmann's foolish attack on vaccines (Star Tribune)

The congresswoman's fear-mongering put politics over health, says this editorial.

4. Shrewd Palin strategy is Populism 101 (USA Today)

Paul Goldman and Mark J. Rozell suggest that Palin could seize a banner once reserved for Democrats or third parties.

5. Ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (Los Angeles Times)

Hazel R. O'Leary and Daryl G. Kimball urge the Senate to ratify the anti-nuclear weapons accord.

6. Why Obama Is Losing the Jewish Vote (Wall Street Journal)

He doesn't have a 'messaging' problem, argues Dan Senor -- he has a record of bad policies and anti-Israel rhetoric.

7. Is It Weird Enough Yet? (New York Times)

Thomas L. Friedman takes a look at the chatter behind the recent attacks on the science of climate change.

8. 'Supercommittee'? More than stupor committee (Washington Post)

Dana Millbank warns that the public should not expect much from the new supercommittee.

9. Uncle Sam play venture capitalist? See Solyndra (USA Today)

Solar Solyndra is a cautionary tale about why government should be extremely wary about betting tax dollars on specific companies, says this editorial.

10. A Well-Regulated Wilderness (New York Times)

The reach of government extends even into the pristine wilderness we seek out to get away from it all, says Michael Lipsky.

Show Hide image

Why did the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet win this year's Nobel Peace Prize?

Thanks to Tunisia, it is no longer possible to argue that the Middle East and North Africa are inherently undemocratic or prone to violence.

It is a fitting that in a tumultuous year for global peacemaking, the Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to the little-known Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet, a coalition made up of the union federation UGTT, the employers’ institute, the Tunisian human rights league and the order of lawyers . Over the past few years, the Quartet has been quietly shepherded in democracy to the country that lit the fuse of the Arab Spring. In part thanks to the efforts of this broad cross-section of civil society, Tunisia has stayed the course in transitioning from an authoritarian past to a democratic future, even in the face of terrorist violence and as other revolutions in the region have faltered.

The award comes at a time of escalating sectarian conflicts in Syria, Libya and Yemen. Islamic State’s campaign of terror has uprooted Iraqis and Syrians alike, driving desperate refugees into small boats to battle the waves of the Mediterranean. They join others fleeing to Europe from political and economic crises in Africa and Asia, forming a stream of humanity symbolising failures in leadership in three continents.

Among all this, it is not hard to identify why the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the world’s most coveted peace prize to the Tunisian Quartet.

First,Tunisia deserves to be celebrated for its momentous achievements in consolidating democracy. Unlike other countries in the region, it has trodden a path that is slow but solid, adopting a comprehensive and consensus-building approach to decision-making.

In this it provides a rare and extremely important example, not only for the region but also for the world. Thanks to Tunisia, it is no longer possible to argue that the Middle East and North Africa are inherently undemocratic or prone to violence.

Civil society steps up

Second, the role of civil society is fundamental for bringing about sustainable peace. Political leadership is important, but the scale of the challenge in transitional societies means that we cannot simply leave things to political leaders to sort out.

At local level especially, peace feels a lot more real when it comes with tangible improvements to quality of life. Citizens want to see the economy motoring again and to have confidence in the state’s institutions. They want to know that they can sleep soundly and safely, without fear of violence, persecution or poverty. Governments often lack the capacity and credibility to deliver these dividends alone. Civil society must step up to the plate – particularly the associations of trade, justice and human rights of which the Quartet is formed.

And third, the Quartet’s work relies heavily on forming constructive relationships across the political spectrum – from secularists to fundamentalists. It has walked a fine line, keeping disparate groups with diverging interests invested in an inclusive national process of dialogue. It has, in the words of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, laid the “groundwork for a national fraternity”.

Politicians are often the most cynical of creatures, yet the Quartet has managed to build a sense of collective endeavour among them. It has encouraged them to put the country’s best interest ahead of personal or sectarian interests, making this the guiding principle for decision-making.

Other bright spots

The transition in Tunisia is a work in progress and there will be more setbacks and successes. The country was left reeling from two terrorist attacks earlier this year, when 22 people were killed at the Bardo Museum in Tunis, and another 39 people died during an attack on a tourist resort in Sousse. But the message today is clear – Tunisia has made remarkable progress since 2010, despite the odds. This is in large part due to a credible and engaged civil society, a remarkable achievement in a new democracy. The country has forged a path of inclusive national dialogue from which many lessons can be learned.

Elsewhere this year, Myanmar goes to the polls in November – the country’s first free national ballot since 1990. Colombia is closer to lasting peace than ever, ending half a century of war that has taken 220,00 lives and uprooted six million people.

The US restored diplomatic relationships with Cuba, and also struck a landmark agreement with Iran over its nuclear programmes. And the UN has adopted the sustainable development goals, explicitly recognising peaceful and inclusive societies as a development priority for the first time. Behind every step forward there is an individual or institution worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize, but only one can win and the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet is a worthy laureate.

Laura Payne is a Research Fellow and Director of RISING Global Peace Forum, Coventry University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.


The Conversation