5 Best Wednesday Columns

Holman Jenkins on blowout preventers, Glenn Greenwald on the causes and effects of the War on Terror, and more

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  • Holman Jenkins on Blowout Preventers  The Wall Street Journal columnist pulls back the curtain on the oil industry's biggest open secret: blowout preventers are anything but reliable. Everybody knows this, Jenkins points out, but drilling has always proceeded apace, because Americans are in the habit of ignoring the possibility of disaster. (Cf. Katrina, Challenger, Columbia, Jenkins notes.) "BP, for its part, may be flayed to its last pence, perhaps deservedly so, but treating an ultra-deepwater blowout as unthinkable was hardly the strategy of BP alone," he writes. "Ultimately it was the strategy of the monopolist here, i.e. the resource owner and lease-grantor, which in every case of deepwater exploration in U.S. coastal waters is the U.S. government. Somebody might ask why."
  • Glenn Greenwald on Causes and Effects of the War on Terror  Reflecting on Faisal Shahzad's condemnation of the United States during his guilty plea, Glenn Greenwald ponders the causes and effects of America's ongoing war on terrorism. "The issue here is causation, not justification," argues Greenwald, pointing to the practices of invasion and occupation that characterize American foreign policy. "It's really quite simple: if we continue to bring violence to that part of the world, then that part of the world -- and those who sympathize with it -- will continue to want to bring violence to the U.S."
  • Tony Blankley on Obama the Isolationist  Writing for National Review, Edelman VP Tony Blankley presents an argument contrary to Greenwald's. Recent events on the international stage--the incident with the Gaza flotilla, the impending withdrawal from Iraq, and "revanchist Russia," to name a few--are all major warning signs to Blankley of America's declining influence in the world. At the root of these problems is Obama's operational apathy; we need more action, not less. "Each of these impending disasters, among others, is on its own timeline -- but they all point to the same conclusion: a world no longer guided by a powerful, benign hand, but rather a world that is the target of malignant grabbing hands and pounding fists."

  • Maureen Dowd on McChrystal's Seven Days in June  In a somewhat heated op-ed today, the New York Times columnist accuses the military of being "rarely as smart as they think they are, and they've never gotten over the fact that civilians run the military." Case in point? "Gen. Stanley McChrystal and his hard-bitten, smart-aleck aides nuked the president, vice president and other top advisers as wimps, losers and clowns in a Rolling Stone profile meant to polish the general's image." The real issue behind McChrystal's unfortunate profile, she says, is that "It's just another sign of the complete incoherence of Afghan policy. The people in charge are divided against each other. And the policy is divided against itself."
  • Doris Kearns Goodwin on What Lincoln Would Do  Obama's McChrystal issue gets perspective from the past by way of the notable historian in a New York Times op-ed today. Goodwin says, "If Abraham Lincoln's experience is any guide, Gen. Stanley McChrystal's fate will be determined by President Obama's judgment of how his firing would affect the war in Afghanistan." She notes that Lincoln stayed committed to General George McClellan, general in chief of the Union Army, despite his "insolent behavior" and the call from Congress to dismiss him. She notes, "When a critic in Congress demanded McClellan's firing, Lincoln asked who should replace the general. 'Why, anybody,' the senator replied. 'Anybody will do for you,' Lincoln said, 'but not for me. I must have somebody.'"
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.