5 Best Friday Columns

Change in China, torture in Iran, and a case for making satellite images public

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  • Ronald Brownstein on China's Progress as Nationalism Reporting from Shanghai, the National Journal columnist observes the changing way that "China sees its role in the world." Comparing the country's general sentiment to that of the U.S., he says, "in many ways, American politics since the 1970s has been dominated by a bitter debate over what has been lost, both economically and culturally. In China, it seems, the national conversation revolves mostly around what has been gained. Progress has fused with nationalism." The result? "This expanding confidence has made China more willing to accept its obligations as a global power."
  • Eugene Robinson on the Oil Spill and Environmentalism Robinson zooms out to look at a larger trend--at how we, though willing to use fluorescent lightbulbs, "in public policy [have] ... reverted to our pre-enlightenment ways." He argues that "when there's a perceived conflict between environmental stewardship and economic growth, the bottom line always wins." He elaborates:
"Drill, baby, drill" isn't just the bizarrely inappropriate chant that we remember from the Republican National Convention two years ago. It's a pretty good indication of where the national ethos has drifted. Environmental regulation is seen as a bureaucratic imposition--not as an insurance policy against potential catastrophe, and certainly not as a moral imperative.
  • Charles Krauthammer on the Oil Spill and Environmentalists In fascinating counterpoint to Robinson's column, the conservative Krauthammer points out that we wouldn't be "drilling in 5,000 feet of water in the first place" if environmentalists hadn't closed off other areas like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge--"the safest of all places, on land," where a similar spill would be impossible.
  • Roger Cohen on Torture in the Islamic Republic   Cohen uses his Friday New York Times column to tell the story of a young man beaten and raped in an Iranian prison for his involvement in the opposition movement. He pleads for talk about "abuse" and also a policy of "engagement"--" isolation only serves the horror merchants."
  • Daniel Baker on Publicizing Satellite Images "The Departments of Energy and Defense," argues Baker in The New York Times, " ... should apply the same standards used for G.P.S.: All but the most sensitive data is disseminated automatically, so that anyone in the world can tap into the flow of information beaming down from the satellites." This would help meteorologists' predictive ability while allowing scientists to get their climate change research peer reviewed (currently they can use some images but often not share them), "leading to higher-quality research."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.