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Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Wednesday 20 November

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The Week’s daily round-up highlights the five best opinion pieces from across the British and international media, with excerpts from each.

1. Zack Beauchamp in Vox

on a calamitous day for the GOP

Tuesday’s impeachment hearings were a disaster for Republicans

“The Republicans on the intelligence committee, from ranking member Devin Nunes on down, did not present a consistent and compelling counternarrative [in the case against Donald Trump]. They did little to contest the facts, preferring instead to attack the media, the whistleblower whose complaint kicked off this saga, or the witnesses themselves. The day underscored the fundamental fact of the situation: Trump did what Democrats are accusing him of doing. The only issue is whether congressional Republicans are willing to punish him for it.”

2. Michael Deacon in The Telegraph

on an unsatisfying TV stand-off

This debate between Johnson and Corbyn never got going – because Julie Etchingham wouldn’t let it

“The biggest applause of the night, meanwhile, went to neither party leader. It went, instead, to a man in the audience – who told them that the nation was watching the election campaign ‘in utter despair’ (applause), and that under their leadership politics had become ‘toxic’ (applause), so why should voters trust either of them (applause). Three rounds of applause in 15 seconds. If anyone can be said to have ‘won’ the debate, it was probably that man.”

3. Daniel Finkelstein in The Times

on expectations vs reality

This isn’t the election politicians think it is

“There is a big gap between the election that politicians think they are fighting and the election that’s actually happening. The daily stories of policy announcements and gaffes and interviews on The Andrew Marr Show pass almost everyone by. Half the population (48 per cent to be exact) has never heard of John McDonnell (he’s the shadow chancellor). While the media go on about the prime minister’s adviser Dominic Cummings, only 18 per cent of people are confident they know who he is. So if people aren’t following much, what determines election results? Do elections actually hold politicians to account at all?”

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4. Sofia Barbarani on Al Jazeera

on the unravelling situation in Iraq

Death on the bridge: The young lives cut short in Iraq’s uprising

“In the capital, Baghdad, most of those killed came from the sprawling slum of Sadr City and its surrounding neighbourhoods. An unofficial list compiled by the organisers of a memorial tent in Tahrir Square shows the names of 31 victims - all born between 1993 and 2003. Many were young men of marrying age, like 21-year-old Muslim Abbas, who was due to graduate from college next year; 23-year-old tuk-tuk driver Hussein Mohammed, whose family was too poor to pay for his burial; or Abbas Ismael, 28, who recently became engaged. Some were younger, like 14-year-old Hassan, an orphaned teenager who made a home out of the city streets and found a community among the protesters.”

5. Barbara Wesel on DW

on Israel’s Washington lifeline

Power overrules the law — especially in Middle East politics

“On the grand stage, where smaller players like the Kurds or the Palestinians have to fight for their future, the EU is forced to sit by and helplessly wring its hands. That is because it lacks military power and because over the past decade, it has wasted the opportunity to create an effective diplomatic policy that would make it indispensable in resolving major international conflicts. The EU lacks unity and an appreciation for shared interests, not even the words of French President Emmanuel Macron can change that. He recently made an urgent call for Europe to take up its role on the international political stage. From its current position of foreign policy weakness, all the EU can do is look on in helpless fury as Washington quickly proclaims injustice in the Middle East a new legal right.”

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