US Press: pick of the papers

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

1. GOP should pick Mitt Romney (Houston Chronicle)

The Republican primary race has descended into a bickering, bloody mess, accurately described by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and others as a circular firing squad. The Chroncile says: Stop the shooting.

2. Super PACs are ruining GOP (Politico)

Today is not Super Tuesday, argues Bill Schneider. It's super PAC Tuesday, and it's destroying the GOP.

3. How I would check Iran's nuclear ambition (Washington Post)

Mitt Romney describes how, as president, he would go further than Obama.

4. Limbaugh out of line - and apology was weak, too (San Francisco Chronicle)

Talk radio's Rush Limbaugh took civic discourse to a new low with his misogynistic belittling of Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke, says this editorial.

5. Rick Santorum Isn't Crazy (New York Times)

Whatever one thinks of the Republican presidential candidate's views on church and state, his opinion is not beyond the pale, writes Stanley Fish.

6. Natural electoral selection (Boston Globe) ($)

The natural selection that's occurring in the GOP race is pushing candidates into niches, says Farah Stockman -- but the nominee may have trouble attracting the mainstream.

7. Ultrasound in abortion should be a woman's choice (USA Today)

Decisions about legal medical procedures should be up to physicians and their patients, not state legislators.

8. US must expand, not suppress, voting rights (Chicago Sun Times)

According to Jesse Jackson, the current drive is the greatest insult to the Voting Rights Act since it was passed 47 years ago.

9. Romney in Ohio: Want College? Can't Afford It? Too Bad (New York Times)

David Firestone describes what modern Republican austerity looks like.

10. Girl Scouts evil? (Philadelphia Daily News)

The war on women - especially their contraceptive and reproductive rights - has entered a new, younger battleground, reports this leading article.

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Ankara bombs: Turkey is being torn apart by bad leaders and bad neighbours

This is the worst terror attack in Turkey’s history. In just a few months, hundreds of civilians, Turkish security personnel and PKK members have been killed.

It had already been a deadly summer of political instability in Turkey. And now this. Another massacre – this time at the hand of twin bomb attacks on a peace rally in Ankara, which have killed at least 97 people.

It is the worst terror attack in Turkey’s history. In just a few months, hundreds of civilians, Turkish security personnel and PKK members have been killed. Barely a single day passes in Turkey without some incident of lethal political violence.

Freedom from fear is the very basic principle of human security, which should be protected by any state that wants a true sense of legitimacy over its population and territory. In Turkey, that freedom is under enormous pressure from all sorts of internal and external forces.

Stirred up

There are plenty of competing explanations for the political violence engulfing the country, but none can seriously overlook the impact of Turkey’s bad political leadership.

The terrible, violent summer reflects nothing so much as an elite’s greed for power and willingness to treat civilians as dispensable. This has become particularly apparent since Turkey’s inconclusive June 7 election, and the way various political parties and leaders did all they could to prevent the formation of a viable coalition government.

Ultimately, the power game is simple enough. At the elections hastily called for November, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP party needs to garner only a few per cent more than it did in June to win the majority it needs for Erdogan to bolster his powers and make himself the country’s executive president.

To that end, pro-government media has been in overdrive throughout the summer, deliberately fuelling an environment of division, paranoia and mistrust in hopes of winning votes out of pure fear.

All the while, southeast Turkey has endured dreadful violence. Some towns – Cizre, for instance, which was under seige for days – have suddenly found themselves on the front line of renewed fighting between the security forces and the PKK.

The demise of the peace process is not just a failure of diplomacy – it signals that the armed conflict is still hugely politically and financially lucrative to Turkey’s political and military leaders. And the violence they’re profiting from is rapidly corroding social life and human security across the country.

The war next door

But the political instability caused by Turkey’s leaders has been greatly exacerbated by its neighbours, especially the continuing civil war in Syria and its deadly ramifications – an influx of jihadist fighters, a massive refugee crisis, and spiralling military interventions.

Since the end of the Cold War, global security has never been so seriously threatened as it is by today’s situation in Syria, which is now host to a head-to-head clash between the interests of Russia, the Assad regime and Iran on the one hand and the US, the EU, their Arab allies, and NATO on the other.

All sides claim to be fighting against the Islamic State and other Islamist extremists, but it’s clear that what’s really at stake is a lot more than just the fate of the jihadists or the political future of Syria. Already there’s an ominous spat underway over Russian planes' incursion into Turkish airspace; NATO has already raised the prospect of sending troops to Turkey as a defensive gesture.

And while it was always inevitable that the Syrian disaster would affect its northern neighbour to some degree, Turkey’s continuing internal political instability is proving something of an Achilles heel. By deliberately forcing their country into a period of chaotic and violent turmoil, Turkey’s leaders have made it more susceptible than ever to the Syrian conflict and the mighty geopolitical currents swirling around it.

And yet they press on with their cynical political ploys – seemingly unmoved by the cost to their people, and unaware that they could just be becoming pawns in a much bigger game.

The Conversation

Alpaslan Ozerdem is a Chair in Peace-Building and Co-Director of the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations at Coventry University.

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