Ill-judged doctors' strike will undermine public trust

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Opinion digest: Doctors' strike, prosecuting war criminals, and religion in the US elections

LAST UPDATED AT 11:45 ON Thu 31 May 2012

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THE WRONG BATTLE AT THE WRONG TIME
MARK PORTER ON THE DOCTORS' STRIKE
The timing of the doctors' strike could not be worse, says Dr Mark Porter in The Times. "Doctors are, on the whole, still respected by the British public, but while this respect is hard won, it is all too easily lost." Coming on top of rumbling disquiet about six-figure salaries, a day protesting against cuts to pensions that have long been the envy of private sector workers "could be the straw that breaks the camel's back". And at a time when the NHS is going through the biggest shake-up in its history, a strike seems to be "picking the wrong fight at the wrong time". No one wants to work longer for less, but "pension reform across the public sector is inevitable and we must all shoulder some of the burden".

CHARLES TAYLOR NOW, BASHAR AL-ASSAD NEXT
GEOFFREY ROBERTSON ON WAR CRIMINALS
International criminal justice grinds slowly, but it can grind exceedingly small, says Geoffrey Robertson in The Guardian. Charles Taylor was first indicted for war crimes in 2003, but many expected he would escape trial. He has now been sentenced to 50 years imprisonment, for "aiding and abetting" war crimes ranging from terrorism and rape to recruiting child soldiers. The idea of ending the impunity of political and military leaders has been controversial, but after Charles Taylor, "international justice is here to stay". Its principal defect is that it does not, in practice, apply to the "big five" powers in the UN security council, or to their close friends (Syria's Bashar al-Assad has so far escaped consequences because of Russia support). But "justice has its own momentum", and this selectivity will change. Taylor's conviction creates a precedent for prosecuting not only Assad, but all those who "aid and abet" war crimes.

DOES MITT ROMNEY'S MORMONISM MATTER? YOU BET
MARTIN KETTLE ON US ELECTIONS
After winning the Texas primary this week, Mitt Romney has finally clawed his way to his party's nomination to challenge Barack Obama, says Martin Kettle in The Guardian. "Never before has a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints been as close to the US presidency as Romney is today." So why is the religion of the potential president an issue? It's not Mormonism's polygamous sects or the pockets of racism that are important, but the religion's dangerous core belief that "America is divinely blessed and the US divinely inspired". If America has divine sanction, as Mormons believe, "it follows that American foreign policy has divine sanction too, and that it is answerable to its own (ie God's) rules, not those of other, by definition lesser and less blessed, nations". Does it matter if the man in the Oval Office, making decisions with global implications, believes this? "You bet it does." · 

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