5 Best Monday Columns

Paul Krugman on China's currency manipulation, Hendrik Hertzberg on nuclear's rising capital, and more

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  • Paul Krugman on China's Currency Manipulation  The New York Times columnist frets over the "anti-stimulus" that China's artificial trade surplus--fostered by diligent currency finagling--will impose on other global economies. Reluctantly, Krugman concedes that "policy hardball" by the Treasury may be the only course of action to avoid negative economic consequences down the road:
Some still argue that we must reason gently with China, not confront it. But we’ve been reasoning with China for years, as its surplus ballooned, and gotten nowhere...In 1971 the United States dealt with a similar but much less severe problem of foreign undervaluation by imposing a temporary 10 percent surcharge on imports, which was removed a few months later after Germany, Japan and other nations raised the dollar value of their currencies. At this point, it’s hard to see China changing its policies unless faced with the threat of similar action — except that this time the surcharge would have to be much larger, say 25 percent.
  • Ross Douthat on Hollywood's Political Fictions  Examining the new Iraq War movie "Green Zone", The New York Times columnist chastises the movie industry for eschewing the complexities of the war in favor of "a 'Bush lied, people died' reductionism". Douthat takes great pains to compare the Iraq invasion to a Shakesperian play, as opposed to the movie's simplistic plot.
In “Green Zone,” everything is much simpler. “We” were lied to. “They” did the lying. The “we” is the audience, Matt Damon’s stoic soldier and the perpetually innocent American public. The “they” is the neoconservatives, embodied by a weaselly Greg Kinnear (playing some combination of Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Bremer and Douglas Feith) and capable of any enormity in the pursuit of their objectives.
  • Hendrik Hertzberg on Nuclear's Rising Capital  The New Yorker senior editor recaps a half-century's worth of the shifting public perceptions of nuclear power. Immediately after World War II, it was a terror; during the Eisenhower years, it was a great shining hope; in the midst of the Cold War, Americans were bitterly divided on the issue; and now, Obama is making nuclear power a clear priority. Hertzberg acknowledges that increased dependence on nuclear plants isn't a perfect solution to America's energy problems, but points out that it is a good one. And "in our sclerotic political system... the merely good might be the best that we can get."
  • Kathleen Parker on Empowering Afghan Women  Writing in The Washington Post, Parker offers an in-depth look at the changing roles available to women in Afghanistan. Among other things, Parker observes that the country's National Police force now includes more than 900 women. Afghan society is far from a model of gender equality, Parker notes: "Only 30 percent of Afghan girls attend school, in part because of the danger but also because of poverty." Yet one conclusion is inescapable, based on the evidence in Afghanistan and elsewhere: "Empowering women will lead to greater prosperity and world peace."
  • Thomas Friedman on Israeli Impertinence  The New York Times mainstay admonishes Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu for showing open disrespect of the U.S. During Biden's recent visit to Israel, Netanyahu made no secret of Israel's plans to continue expanding into East Jerusalem. In Friedman's eyes, "what the Israelis did played right into a question a lot of people are asking about the Obama team: how tough are these guys?" Friedman adds that Netanyahu has "a real opportunity" to advance the peace process if he chooses to recognize it, but "unfortunately, that is not what happened last week."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.