5 Best Monday Columns

Why Israel needs the bomb, what happens when North Korea falls, and why taxing the rich is a matter of morality

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  • Mark Helprin on Why Israel Needs the Bomb  "Last week, the Iranian president traveled 1,000 miles from Tehran to stand on Israel's border and threaten annihilation. One can only imagine the hysteria--not only in Iran but in London and Paris--if Israel's prime minister were to go to the Iranian border and do the same," figures The Wall Street Journal contributor, who vigorously promotes Israel's right to defend itself. Israel's antagonists are "closing the gap" in armaments, and if Arab nations coalesce against the nation, Israel's prospect's look considerably "darker." One of the main reasons that Iran is driving for a nuclear weapon, Helprin argues, is to "neutralize Israel's nuclear deterrent so as to allow a series of conventional battles to advance Israel's downfall incrementally." Because Israel is in a constant state of siege, it has little choice but to rely on its nuclear arsenal to preserve its existence.
  • Tom Brokaw on the America's Forgotten Wars  In a New York Times op-ed, Brokaw notes the conspicuous absence of a major issues in these extremely "contentious" elections: the wars. "Why aren't the wars and their human and economic consequences front and center in this campaign, right up there with jobs and taxes?" he asks. The answer is that it's likely Americans are much more worried about their own personal economic security. But it's also the result of having an all-volunteer army, which represents only one percent of the American population, and allows citizens to forget about the sacrifices made for them overseas. "No decision is more important than committing a nation to war," writes Brokaw. "It is, as politicians like to say, about our blood and treasure. Surely blood and treasure are worthy of more attention than they've been getting in this campaign."
  • Fareed Zakaria on When North Korea Falls  The Washington Post columnist believes that North Korea is showing "many signs of instability": facing a "disastrous" revaluation of its currency, constant food shortages, and destabilizing internal political tensions. Meanwhile, "North Koreans are beginning to learn more and more about the outside world." Argues Zakaria: "at some point, North Koreans are going to start moving south, to jobs, money, opportunity, and freedom." If South Korea, China, and the U.S. haven't planned for this, "all hell will break loose." At this point, those countries haven't thought much about this problem, and Zakaria points to some reasons why they should: "There are big issues at stake. Does a unified Korea retain its close alliance with the United States? Does it keep the North's nuclear arsenal? Do American troops stay in the country?" The answers to this question will determine whether a unified Korea will be closer to Beijing or Washington.
  • Fred Barnes on the Irrelevant RNC  Writing in The Wall Street Journal, the conservative columnist notes that "since Mr. Steele was elected chairman last year, the RNC has raised almost $153.7 million, roughly $90 million less than in 2006." Other groups are stepping in with the money. Meanwhile, "many congressional Republicans and governors," writes Barnes, "no longer trust Mr. Steele as their spokesman. They tend to work around the RNC rather than engage Mr. Steele." Barnes argues that Steele's high-profile gaffes--referring to Rush Limbaugh as an "entertainer," questioning the ability of congressional Republicans to lead if they did manage to take the House--have limited the RNC's ability to be a power-player in the seemingly imminent Republican revival.
  • Jonathan Cohn on the Moral Case for Taxing the Rich  Opponents of progressive taxes say the larger tax burden on the rich is unfair. Those who respond by saying eliminating tax cuts for the wealthy is just good economic sense miss the moral rejoinder, explains The New Republic columnist. While the "budget arithmetic" of not extending the Bush tax cuts remains compelling, there's also an ethical case to be made that the rich should give more of their income back to the government. "The proverbial self-made man is not exactly self-made," notes Cohn. Even the most self-reliant captain of industry benefits from "the accomplishments of past generations, not to mention the support of public institutions (like the National Science Foundation) and services (like schools) that foster innovation and lead to greater productivity."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.