5 Best Friday Columns

Becoming Japan, negotiating Iran, and why non-vets lie about Vietnam

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  • Hamisch McNinch on Oil Spills in the Other Gulf  The former British Army engineer warns in The Wall Street Journal that, while the oil industry does a double-take in the wake of the recent spill, "authorities in Iraq, in particular, may now want to redouble their efforts to modernize their decrepit export pipelines." The pipelines are crucial for Iraq's economy, but are operating at maximum capacity as it is, while "the risk of a major oil spill from a fractured pipe remains real and largely unmitigated."
  • Paul Krugman: We're Not Greece--We're Japan  Americans shouldn't be worried about Mediterranean-style riots so much as a "Japan-style lost decade, trapped in a prolonged era of high unemployment and slow growth" says the New York Times columnist and economist. Falling interest rates "reflect ... a surge of pessimism about the prospects for economic recovery," argues Krugman, "pessimism that has sent investors fleeing out of anything that looks risky." Meanwhile, lagging employment numbers and inflation at a "44-year low" don't look good.
  • Roger Cohen on the Obama Administration and Iran  "Obama has just made his own enlightened words look empty," declares Cohen, who feels the administration is "mov[ing] the goalposts" in negotiations with Iran. Americans, including those like "the Tea Party diehards" who are trying to put pressure on the administration, need to realize that U.S. power "is great but no longer determinative," and that policy must be planned accordingly.
  • David Brooks on Angry Voters and Extremism  Brooks asks readers to "imagine a character named Ben," whose early life and commitment to the simple values of hard work Brooks relates. Brooks tells how, horrified at Washington excesses and carelessness, Ben "looked around for leaders who might understand his outrage, he only found them among the ideological hard-liners." Brooks encourages moderates to "revive and define the free labor tradition--a tradition that uses government to encourage work, to reward work, and to uphold the values at the core of Ben's life."
  • Henry Allen on Vietnam and Lying  The Vietnam veteran, writing in The Dallas Morning News, recalls instances when men have lied to him about having been in the Marines during the war and ties it together with the Blumenthal story. He examines the odd trend of men who got out of Vietnam "legally and even honorably" through deferments or otherwise feeling they have to excuse themselves. "It was 40 years ago," he says. "Forget about it." Somehow, the "shame" of telling a lie appears to be less than the shame of not having served:
The fact is that regardless of whether a war was moral, justified, won or meaningful, having served in one--particularly in combat--confers prestige. Harvard and Yale and social connections are nice, but at 3 o'clock in the morning, you find yourself outranked by high school dropouts whose names are on the wall of the Vietnam Memorial. Not in the eyes of the world, but in your own eyes.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.