5 Best Tuesday Columns

Kagan, Karzai, oil, and Greece

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  • David McKean on Obama's Mixed Message to Karzai  In an op-ed for The Boston Globe, the chief executive for the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation draws a crucial parallel between the Vietnam War and the conflict in Afghanistan: "the questions of strong leadership and a reliable partner remain central to the eventual outcome." The message to the increasingly hostile Hamid Karzai--that the United States "will not abandon Afghanistan" despite his petulance--poses problems down the road. "The United States could find itself in the awkward position of having invested billions of dollars in building up a national army and police force yet promoting a weak central government," writes McKean. "The administration would do well to remember the consequences of failing to control Diem’s greed and corruption: The Vietnamese leader was assassinated and the United States lost more than 50,000 troops in a losing war."
  • Robert Clark on Kagan and Military Recruitment  In a guest turn at The Wall Street Journal, Clark, a professor and former dean at Harvard Law School, dives deep into the campus politics and procedural finagling that led to Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan's semester-long policy of not letting military recruiters use the school's Office of Career Services. "Ms. Kagan basically followed a strategy toward military recruiting that was already in place," explains Clark. He then takes pains to demonstrate that "it would be very wrong to portray Elena Kagan as hostile to the U.S. military. Quite the opposite is true."
  • Five Experts on the Oil-Spill Response  The New York Times rounds up a panel of authors, professors, and energy-industry veterans to pitch ideas about what the U.S. should and shouldn't do to deal with the Gulf oil spill. Don't use toxic oil-based solvents, warns one; cut down on the outsourcing-happy culture that promotes fragmentation and impedes communication on rigs, urges another. The most counterintuitive response, from Kevin Yeager of the University of Southern Mississippi? Sit back and do nothing. "We should recognize that nature can do many things far better than we can," Yeager writes, "and with less collateral damage."
  • David Brooks on Kagan the Unknown  The Supreme Court nominee is Brooks's latest vehicle to larger social commentary, as the New York Times columnist laments a culture that values careerism over risk-taking and principled opinion. Calling Kagan's written record "scant and carefully nonideological," Brooks levies the most potent criticism he can muster when recounting her rise through the legal ranks. "She has become a legal scholar without the interest scholars normally have in the contest of ideas," he spits. "She’s shown relatively little interest in coming up with new theories or influencing public debate."
  • Anne Applebaum on 'Euro-Neo-Colonialism'  The Washington Post columnist details the surrender of autonomy Greece faces if it wants to be bailed out by the European Union. Marveling that the agreement between Greece and the EU is "the kind of thing a surrendering field marshal signs in a railway car in the forest at the end of a bloody war," Applebaum lists some of the many policies the Greek legislature "shall" pass to qualify for the multi-billion dollar financial rescue and points to a broader EU precedent:
Though no one is saying so, this visible imposition of E.U. power on Greece will also serve as a warning to others who want to enter the eurozone in the future. Yes, if you play by the rules, being part of Europe means being part of the world's largest and most prosperous economy. But if you don't play by the rules, you risk coming under foreign financial occupation. Euro-neo-colonialism, in all its glory, has arrived.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.