Best columns: International
So much for a united front
Venezuela’s opposition is eating itself, said Jean Maninat. When opposition forces won control of the national legislature in the 2015 elections, they seemed unstoppable. The people had spoken, and they rebuked President Nicolás Maduro and his leftist allies. But Maduro did everything in his power to cripple the legislature before it even sat, and in July he practically abolished it, creating a new, superior constitutional assembly packed with loyalists. The opposition rightly refused to recognize that undemocratic body—until last week. Four of the five opposition candidates who won governorships in state elections allowed themselves to be sworn in by that new assembly. The resulting “political earthquake” has “collapsed the structure of the opposition.” Its members are turning on one another, some accusing those governors-elect of striking “a diabolical pact” with Maduro to gain power. Granted, “genuflecting before the assembly was a political error,” but does it follow that those who made that mistake should be declared enemies of democracy and drummed out of the resistance? The opposition must pull together to prepare for next year’s presidential election. Because shouting “every man for himself” as we rush to the lifeboat makes it more likely that everyone will drown.
Reactors put us all in danger
Japan is at risk of another Fukushima-style nuclear meltdown, said Hiroyuki Kawai. This time, the cause won’t be an earthquake-tsunami double whammy, like the one that hit us in 2011, but a North Korean missile strike. Most of the outlandish threats uttered by Kim Jong Un’s rogue regime are aimed at the U.S., not Japan. But the ballistic missiles it launched to accompany those threats have flown over Japanese territory. In response, Japan’s government has issued alerts on TV and mobile phones, “urging people to take cover,” and it has been halting train services while the missiles are in flight. Yet it has done nothing about “Japan’s Achilles’ heel in national defense”: our nuclear power plants. All 54 were idled after Fukushima, but five are now back online. In just one year, a single nuclear reactor produces a level of radioactive material 1,000 times that produced by the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. If such a plant were hit by a missile, the nation’s very survival could be at stake. As tensions mount between volatile North Korea and an unpredictable Trump administration, an accident becomes ever more likely. “If there exists even a 1 percent risk of conflict, nuclear power plants should be taken offline.” Our security cannot be subject to “the whims of a dictator.” ■