A warm welcome, as always, to this, a belated weekly round-up of the latest View opinion articles. Amongst the hot topics that have had you talking last week are the ongoing Brexit chaos to the devastating civil war in Yemen. Presenting all points of view, we aim to give you a flavour of the opinions that have driven debate across Europe and beyond over the last seven days.
As the old adage goes, “the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.” As we’ve seen from the biggest news stories over the last week, good intentions don’t always mean that your endeavours will end with positive results.
Speaking of Hell and good intentions, Brexit is continuing to frustrate politicians and businesses in the UK and the EU. Donald Tusk told the media that there was a special place in Hell for Brexiteers - and perhaps he’s right, despite all the good intentions of those involved in the process. The potential impact of Brexit is still being assessed but the prognosis is not looking hopeful, particularly for the NHS. During the EU referendum campaign, Leave campaigners infamously promised that billions of pounds would be saved by not paying EU contributions which could instead be added to NHS coffers. But as contributor Hadley Stewart pointed out, EU staff are deciding to return home because of Brexit and medication supply chains are being pushed to breaking point. Is the NHS on the brink?
While it is often maligned by Eurosceptics, the EU, as it was originally intended at its inception as the European Economic Community, is a project to ensure peace on a continent previously riven by war as well as to promote democracy and the freedoms that it brings. Such was the attraction, that former neighbours and enemies became democracies and joined the Union over time. Now, however, as contributors Radosveta Vassileva and Panicos Demetriades argued in their View op-ed last week, some of these member states are drifting back to their authoritarian tendencies, and despite its better judgement, the EU is failing to adequately deal with the pull of populists.
The civil war in Yemen is consigning many innocent civilians to living in Hell on Earth, despite the honourable intentions of humanitarians trying to get much needed aid to people most in need. That includes those who live in Hodeida, where a ceasefire has failed to stop the deaths of its inhabitants from stray bullets and slow starvation, as contributor Salem Jaffer Baobaid attested last week from the ground in Yemeni city.
With billions of adherents around the world, Facebook was initially created to connect people. Over time, this grew from a university faculty website to a global movement beyond borders, helping to maintain friendships over long distances and facilitate an exchange of ideas across the miles. However, over the last few years, Facebook has been embroiled in numerous data scandals. As one of the original Facebook investors, Robert McNamee outlined last week just why - despite his initial enthusiasm for the social media platform – its reach and influence now scares him.
It is not just social media platforms that are provoking concern. The advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is causing many people to worry about its unfettered growth. The EU is taking strident steps to develop ethics and values to regulate the field. While morally, this move is beyond reproach, it will ironically ensure that Europe loses in the global race for dominance in AI against giants such as China and the United States - and ultimately fail to do exactly what it is striving to do, according to Eline Chivot and Daniel Castro.
While it is hard to reconcile President Donald trump with responsible policies, the wall along the US border with Mexico was initially proposed as something that would protect American citizens and position himself as the protector of the nation in the process. However, the proposed wall has done nothing but divide public opinion in the United States, even more so now that it looks likely Trump will declare a national emergency to achieve it. As Charles McFarland argued in his op-ed last week, this will have major implications for those who own thousands of acres of property along the border, the same people whose rights Trump says the border wall is supposed to protect.
Of course, the nature of American politics at the moment means that there will be continued paralysis over the border wall issue. Former US Claire McCaskill discussed just how dysfunctional the US Senate is just now in holding President Trump to account in her View op-ed last week, stating: “…the Senate has quite working the way it has traditionally always worked – the way it was intended to work.”
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Opinions expressed in View articles are solely those of the authors.