5 Best Monday Columns

On Marines' opposition to repealing DADT, Obama's foreign policy "time warp," and Thanksgiving in hindsight

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  • Tammy S. Shultz on Marines' Resistance to Lifting Don't Ask Don't Tell  From the early reports of a survey of 400,000 service-members, about 70 percent believe the effects of lifting DADT would be "positive," "mixed," or "nonexistent." The Washington Post contributor—an openly gay woman who teaches at Marine Corps War College in Quantico—notes one part of the military where a repeal is encountering much more resistance: the Marines. Forty percent of Marines surveyed expressed concerns about lifting the ban, and top leaders (Gen. Peter Pace, Gen. James Conway) have echoed this sentiment. Marines, she argues, are "more conservative, resistant to change and likely to uphold tradition. This equates to a fear of the unknown—in this case, serving in combat with an openly gay Marine." Yet Shultz also believes that the Marines will eventually come around to supporting the repeal of DADT: "In my experience with the Marines, professionalism trumps sexuality." She believes that Corps leaders hold the key to reconciling the culture differences, and that once the ban is repealed the Marines—the "most professional force in the world"—will have little trouble complying with the law.
  • Ross Douthat on Ireland's Paradise Lost  As Ireland reluctantly agrees to a bailout, The New York Times columnist looks back, arguing that the country was fundamentally unready for the global market. "It’s as if there were only two eras in Irish history," writes Douthat, "the Middle Ages and the housing bubble." After decades in relative isolation, Ireland thrust into the role of international player. Douthat notes that while "the Irish sometimes say that their 1960s didn’t happen until the 1990s...But Ireland caught up fast: the kind of social and economic change that took 50 years or more in many places was compressed into a single revolutionary burst." This burst came too quickly, and the assets that financed the nation's warp-speed evolution proved toxic."When the story of the Great Recession is remembered, Ireland will offer the most potent cautionary tale...a reminder that the biggest booms can produce the biggest busts, and that debt and ruin always shadow prosperity and growth."
  • Jackson Diehl on Obama's Foreign Policy Time-Warp  The president has led his administration "into a foreign policy time warp that is sapping its strength abroad and at home," argues The Washington Post columnist. Obama seems to believe that foreign policy hasn't changed since 1983, when he wrote a college magazine article introducing his vision of a "nuclear free world." Despite "everything" changing in the past quarter century, the Obama administration is focusing it's "time warp" efforts on an arms treaty with Russia and stopping Israel's settlement expansion in the West Bank. While the START treaty should be approved, the threat from Russia is now "minuscule," while "the threat of nuclear weapons now comes from rogue states such as North Korea, Iran and Syria, and maybe from terrorist organizations." In Israel, "the settlements have become a sideshow; the real issues concern how to create a Palestinian state in a Middle East where the greatest threat is not Israeli but Iranian expansionism." The main problem with Obama's foreign policy is that there is no grand strategy, argues Diehl: "Its top foreign-policy makers are a former senator, a Washington lawyer and a former Senate staffer. There is no Henry Kissinger, no Zbigniew Brzezinski, no Condoleezza Rice; no foreign policy scholar."
  • Jeff Sommer on Obama's Good-Looking Forecast  Reports of President Obama's political demise have been greatly exaggerated, writes The New York Times contributor. Sommer cites the prediction of Yale economist Ray C. Fair--an expert on "econometrics and on the relationship of economics and politics"--that "based on the facts at hand now, President Obama is likely to win the 2012 election in a landslide." Why? Because the economy is about to bounce back in a big way. Sommer cites Fair's observation that "prices in financial markets — even if not the housing market — have already rebounded from their levels at the nadir of the financial crisis." If there is "relative stability" over the next two years, "the effect of those rebounds — which ought to induce consumers and businesses to spend and invest more — should be feeding into the overall economy." Fair says his projection is based on the assumption that "stimulative fiscal and monetary policies will continue," and indeed, writes Sommer, they are, in the form of QE2 (the monetary policy) and the probable extension of the Bush-era tax cuts (the fiscal policy).
  • James Carroll on Thanksgiving in Hindsight  Thanksgiving is literally a week of nostalgia (which means "returning home" in Greek) for many Americans. It's a time where we all can claim the "odd-hatted" Pilgrims as distant relatives and mimic their rituals in our kitchens, observes The Boston Globe columnist. As a national holiday, it also seems "universally tinged with the sweet sorrow of loss." It is the one time of year where we "measure our present experience against what Proust called 'lost time'...by holding up a fancied golden era of yesteryear...we can devalue where we are and who we have become." This year, Caroll notes, "the hope Obama sparked looks in hindsight like hallucination." However, he urges readers not to "punish the difficult present by comparing it to a misremembered bygone."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.