Roundup: Editorial opinions from other papers

Farmington Daily Times
Editorial roundup

US forces should not re-fight an old battle

Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter’s statement that America is ready to provide attack helicopters and field advisers to help the Iraqi government free Ramadi from control of the Islamic State group is astonishing.

Carter seems to be unaware that most Americans are tired of U.S. participation in Middle Eastern wars. They supported President George W. Bush’s 2008 agreement with the Iraqi government that U.S. forces be withdrawn by the end of 2011. The 3,500 who remain today are in principle in a training capacity.

It is also unclear how the re-taking of Ramadi fits into any overall regional approach to a campaign to defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. If one exists, the American people are not aware of it. Congress still refuses to debate and vote on U.S. policy in the Middle East.

Americans fought and died once already to liberate Ramadi during the Sunni uprising. To do it again would be re-fighting the same Iraqi battle. For what?

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has stated flatly that he does not want foreign troops to fight his country’s wars. The United States supports al-Abadi in general, particularly in his desire to take responsibility for what happens in Iraq.

So what lies behind Carter’s intention to expose more U.S. personnel to combat in Iraq? Is it to balance out any Iranian forces that al-Abadi might invite into his country? Is it to provide the “boots on the ground” that some politicians want President Barack Obama to put into the region against the Islamic State group?

Neither Carter nor Obama seems able to provide a good reason for sending more Americans into harm’s way. Enough is enough — in blood and resources — to attempt to take back a town in Iraq that the United States fought for once already.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Dec. 11

New drone registration system is a good step

Just in the nick of time, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx this week announced that the federal government will have an online registration system in place for drones before thousands of Americans unwrap new ones Christmas morning.

That’s a relief. The past few months have been filled with reports of careless drone operators endangering the public by not following crucial rules about the use of U.S. airspace. Having a database of drone registrations will help authorities track down people who use their aircraft irresponsibly or maliciously. Another bonus: It’s a good opportunity to pass on crucial information about where to fly — and not to fly.

This is no time for federal authorities to relax, however. Building a registration system is meaningless if no one knows about it. That raises a real concern about how to get the word out to hundreds of thousands of people by Monday, when everyone with a drone that weighs more than a half a pound will be required to register with the Federal Aviation Administration, pay a $5 fee and affix a tail number to his drone.

Foxx was smart to bring together the associations representing drone manufacturers and users in October to help draft the recommendations that led to this week’s rule. Although these groups were not completely satisfied with the outcome — the nominal registration fee is a particular issue because of the concern that it will stop compliance — they will no doubt convey the new requirement to their members.

Even if they do, however, that still leaves thousands of people unaware. And though the FAA can impose hefty civil or criminal penalties on people who don’t register, let’s be honest: No one’s going to be rounding up scofflaw owners and dragging them to jail for failing to put a tail number on their toy drone. Nor should they. Having a drone should not be a crime.

But we do want people to register, and a voluntary system may not accomplish that. Who would bother to register their car if wasn’t compulsory? Sooner rather than later, the FAA must consider requiring drones to be registered where they are sold so that it becomes automatic. With more than 1 million drones in the hands of users, many of them novices with little appreciation for the damage they can cause, the public shouldn’t be left guessing who owns the drone that crashed into their property or violated their privacy — or worse.

Los Angeles Times, Dec. 15