What others are saying

December 20, 2006

The United States may be slowly ridding itself of the urge to impose the death penalty, according to a study released last week. A protracted execution in Florida on Wednesday starkly illustrated one of the reasons for the change in attitude.

Angel Diaz was the 53rd and last person to be executed in the United States this year. He was strapped onto a gurney and given an injection that was supposed to kill him within 15 minutes, but he lay there squinting and grimacing and seemed to be trying to speak. Prison officials had to give him a second injection, and it took him 34 minutes to die.

Gov. Jeb Bush promised an investigation and suspended executions pending the results, but the exact reason for Mr. Diaz's ordeal ignores the wider question of whether execution by any method is right. The murder took place in 1979, and any deterrent effect has vanished. Thousands of people have been murdered in the state since then, yet only 64 have been executed.

This hit-and-miss system offers no protection for society.

- The Boston Globe

Just as the radical Taliban are emerging as a virulent force in southern Afghanistan, France has decided to withdraw its special troops from the area, soldiers especially trained in counterinsurgency. The French government will leave troops in Afghanistan's capital, Kabul - the safest zone in Afghanistan - and it will supply air support to NATO troops. But it is taking 200 soldiers out of Jalalabad where there has been some of the deadliest insurgent attacks in the past few months.

Trust the French to be there when you need them.

As Sen. John McCain pointed out, it has been the Dutch, the Canadians, the British and the Americans who are taking on the tough work in Afghanistan, sending more troops into areas where suicide bombings and other terrorist attacks have occurred. The explanation from France for its troop withdrawal is that it is reorganizing its forces, and it plans to train Afghan special forces. "It appears important to us that the Afghans see that it is their own forces which are retaking" the areas of their country which are under attack, said France's defense minister, Michele Alliot-Marie.

The French decision is not only disappointing, it is alarming. NATO needs more troops in Afghanistan, military experts agree. Clearly the French don't have the fortitude to continue the difficult work it will take to make Afghanistan safe.

- Chicago Sun-Times

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