5 Best Thursday Columns

David Ignatius on playing diplomatic chicken with Iran, Timothy Garton Ash on Europe sleepwalking to decline, and more

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  • David Ignatius on Diplomatic Chicken With Iran The Washington Post columnist presents his pessimistic take on last week's Brazil-brokered deal between Turkey and Iran and the U.N.'s package of sanctions. "The new U.N. resolution won't stop Iran's nuclear program any more than the previous three did," notes Ignatius, pointing to practical enforcement problems before addressing a larger concern of negotiating "Tehran-style":
The problem with this protracted process of bargaining is that the clock is ticking, with Iran moving toward nuclear-weapons capability even as it haggles on the diplomatic front. As Iran plays the game, "yes" and "no" are never final; negotiators walk away from the table only to return; face-saving compromises are floated, rejected and then re-floated. It's likely that this enervating bargaining will end when Iran announces -- surprise! -- that it has all the elements for a nuclear weapon and is now a de facto nuclear state.
  • Victor Davis Hanson on Maverick Marines  At National Review, Hanson offers a spirited defense of the U.S. Marine Corps, whose relative independence in the structure of the American military has attracted plenty of criticism over the years. Today, Hanson writes, "the old stereotype of the lone-ranger, gung-ho Marines supposedly doesn't fit too well with fighting a sophisticated urban counterinsurgency under an integrated, international command." Yet he argues that the Marines, with their slight hint of roguishness, have always served as "a sort of insurance policy"--and that Americans would do well to encourage that role.
  • Clifford May on the Kurdistan Story  May, president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, gives a thoughtful analysis of Kurdistan's social and political conditions in National Review. Despite a near-constant atmosphere of existential precariousness--Kurds are a historically embattled minority in the region--May affirms that in Kurdistan, "foreign investors are welcomed, the private sector is encouraged, and progress is obvious." The region "is not without flaw or blemish," May admits, but its unique properties mean that it "could be more consequential than most people — including most American policymakers — seem to appreciate."
  • Alec Applebaum on LEEDing Us Astray  With the unveiling of the new green super-skyscraper in New York today, Applebaum questions the environmental stability of LEED-certified buildings. "Put simply, a building’s LEED rating is more like a snapshot taken at its opening, not a promise of performance," he says, adding that its ratings allow developers to charge a premium on rents. "Such market-driven motives wouldn’t matter — if LEED in fact measured energy performance. But it can’t.... As a result, a five-year-old building can turn into an energy hog and still carry its LEED designation." The solution? "Have them institute follow-up requirements as well."
  • Timothy Garton Ash on Europe Sleepwalking to Decline "Europe, wake up!" declares the Guardian's Ash in response to the state of the European project. Running through the list of issues plaguing the continent--the eurozone crisis, power shifts, the "drunken snail" pace of foreign policy--Ash criticizes European leaders for their lack of innovation and motivation to keep up with the pace of the rest of the world. "In a world of giants, it helps to be a giant yourself," says Ash. "But a rationale, an intellectual argument, is not the same as an emotional driving force, based on direct personal experience and an immediate sense of threat. We don't have that sense in today's Europe."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.