Editorial roundup – May 16

US troops providing ‘support’ yet again

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (TNS)

The Pentagon announced that U.S. forces are now engaged in Yemen, joining those in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia and Syria in combat in wars in the Middle East.

The deployment a few weeks ago was not preceded by a U.S. declaration of war, nor was it authorized by any act of Congress. The Pentagon spokesman called it “a very small team” that will be “providing intelligence support” and whose role will be “short term.” We’ve heard that before.

The political and military situation in Yemen, a nation of some 25 million, the poorest in the Middle East, is especially complex. There are the forces of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, a Sunni. The president, chosen in 2012 in a single-candidate election, is Abd-Rabbu Mansur Hadi, also a Sunni, who shuttles back and forth between Saudi Arabia and Yemen, depending on how forces supporting him are doing.

The principal challenge to these two Sunni rulers are Houthi Shiite rebels, their religious orientation having attracted the opposition of the Saudis and Persian Gulf states, including the United Arab Emirates.

The political and military chaos in Yemen has also provided an opportunity for al-Qaida and the Islamic State to gain a foothold, and this presence and the alliance and the military sales relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia and the UAE has served as the basis for U.S. involvement.

The Saudis and UAE have been bombing Yemen heavily for months now, supported by the United States with intelligence, spare parts, ammunition and, perhaps, pilot support.

Into this maelstrom of conflicting formal and other military elements, President Barack Obama has sent U.S. forces, and is providing pro-Hadi and perhaps pro-Saleh forces as well as intelligence, drone, air and offshore U.S. Navy support.

It is hard to explain why America is playing the active role that it is now increasing in the war in Yemen. If there is a valid explanation, the public needs to hear it. Otherwise, the U.S. troops and other U.S. intervention in a war that seems to have nothing to do with American national interests should end immediately.

Fairness needed on Indiana Senate immigration committee

South Bend Tribune

We’ve long argued that immigration reform is an issue that should be tackled by the federal government.

Last month’s initial meeting of the Indiana Senate Select Committee on Immigration — tasked with studying the impact “unauthorized aliens” have on Indiana and what the state can legally do — only supports that view.

The unwillingness and inability of those in the nation’s capital to act on this pressing matter has led to the current situation in Indiana and other states. Instead of working to overhaul a broken system, Congress has kicked the issue down the road time and time again.

The result? A patchwork of state measures that don’t offer a real solution.

The Indiana Senate committee, led by state Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, plans to conduct six meetings and form recommendations for state immigration policy, regarding both legal and illegal immigration. Delph, a longtime vocal critic of illegal immigration, has promised to take a “fair and deliberative approach” to studying the issue.

That approach would call for a diversity of views to be represented, which wasn’t the case at the committee’s inaugural meeting. Invited to testify were Kris Kobach, Kansas secretary of state, and Dale Wilcox, executive director and general counsel for the Immigration Law Reform Institute. Kobach helped draft Arizona’s 2010 stringent illegal immigration law, three provisions of which were struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Southern Poverty Law Center links both men to the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which it calls an “anti-immigration hate group.”

Delph and his testimony from his two guests accounted for two-thirds of the three-hour session. He has said that his biases won’t determine the committee’s outcome and that he will be inviting those with opposing views to speak.

Let’s hope upcoming meetings — the next is scheduled for May 25 — better support Delph’s promise of fairness.