Crimea: The Panama precedent

Masked individuals hold a Russian flag at a government building in Crimea on 1 March, 2014. Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Imperialist behaviour from world powers is nothing new, says Prof DeWayne Wickham

A review of the best commentary on and around the world...

Today's must-read

A world power helps a breakaway territory achieve independence from a weak, internally divided country that has rejected a high-profile treaty.

Is Morgan State University Prof DeWayne Wickham writing about Crimea? No, he's referring to Panama.

In a column in USA Today Wickham cautions that US leaders who have denounced Russian actions in Crimea and taken the "moral high ground" should look closely at their own country's history.

In 1903 the nation of Panama was carved out of Colombia after the Colombian government rejected a treaty that would have allowed the US to build a canal linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

The US fostered an uprising in the province of Panama and sent warships to prevent Colombian re-enforcements from arriving, Wickham writes. Once the independent state of Panama was established, its government quickly approved the canal treaty that Colombia wouldn't sign.

"Panama is in the geopolitical backyard of the USA," Wickham writes. "It's inside America's sphere of influence, just as Crimea is inside Russia's."

"I don't say this to justify the imperialistic behaviour of either superpower, but rather to suggest that it's nothing new. Nor should it be unexpected."


Gender bias is a real security threat - While male Indian politicians debate security in the run-up to this year's elections, writes National Human Rights Commission member Satyabrata Pal, they ignore the plight of Indian women. "Women in India are insecure and remain at risk because in this patriarchal society they are children of a lesser god," she says.

United Kingdom

Who speaks for UK Muslims? - BBC Newsnight hosted a debate on Monday between MP Maajid Nawaz, journalist Mehdi Hassan and political commentator/activist Mohammed Ansar. Mr Nawaz had tweeted out a cartoon of the prophet Muhammad saying hello to Jesus, stirring up anger in the UK Muslim community. Mr Ansar said Mr Nawaz doesn't represent the Muslim community and is trying to get attention by stirring up controversy.

"You want to make yourself a martyr of free speech, and you're not," Mr Ansar told Mr Nawaz. "As a political candidate, should you be offending large portions of the Muslim community?"


Detainees down under - The Australian government has detained 52 people for almost five years without trial, writes University of Sydney Prof Ben Saul. Although the United Nations has found that the detentions are illegal, he says, the Australian public doesn't seem to care. "Sustained international pressure is therefore essential," he writes, and the US must take the lead.


Saving the Irish language - Irish speakers need to be able to conduct business with the government in their native language, writes Language Commissioner Ronan O Domhnaill in the Irish Times. Too often, he says, Irish-language services are limited or missing entirely.

He asks:

Is it too much to ask that children in the Gaeltacht[Irish speaking regions] should enjoy the right to basic services, such as healthcare, in their first language, which also happens to be the first official language of the State, according to the Constitution?

BBC Monitoring's quotes of the day

On Monday, 528 members of the Muslim Brotherhood were sentenced to death on charges of killing two policemen and rioting on 14 August, 2013. While he proceedings have been criticised by UK, US and EU media for unfairness, in Egypt nearly all papers have applauded the sentences.

"Before you praise or criticise Judge Sai'd [Yusuf who issued the ruling]... watch the videos that are available on YouTube; watch them before you hold the judge accountable... I will not leave my mind to reject a deterrent ruling that separates between the rule of the jungle and the rule of law... I will not sympathise with savages just because their number is large." - Hamdi Rizq in the Egyptian daily Al-Misri al-Yawm

"There is nothing better for any society than applying decisive and quick justice... I do not imagine that it is anyone's right to describe the ruling as political, as its legal and religious basis is correct and that is retribution." - Abd-al-Khaliq Subhi in the Egyptian state-owned daily Al-Ahram al-Misa'i

"The people in Egypt and abroad are not preoccupied now with the sentence. They are rather concerned about its messages, repercussions and timing... These are part of the concerning and bewildering questions." - Yusuf Rizqah in the Hamas-run, Gaza-based Palestinian newspaper Felesteen

"The requirements of justice should be fulfilled. Announcing the death penalty after only two hearings is the murder of justice. The US, UN and international community should put pressure on the military government of Egypt to ensure the fair trial of political prisoners." - Editorial in Pakistani daily Nawa-i-Waqt

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