Five Best Friday Columns
Max Fisher on Chuck Hagel, Roger Cohen on oil, Simon Jenkins on North Korea, Jeffrey Goldberg on Australia, and Palav Babaria on Obamacare.
Max Fisher in The Washington Post on Chuck Hagel's view on Iran Rumor has it that former Senator Chuck Hagel is Obama's first choice for Secretary of Defense. Many have been discussing the Republican's willingness to criticize his own party's approach to the war in Iraq, but Max Fisher wants to focus on the issue Hagel has been more cagey about: Iran. "While Obama has long been clear that he considers military strikes a viable last resort, Hagel’s statements on the matter have been far more ambiguous," Fisher writes. Though Hagel was initially opposed to striking Iran as a last resort, "It's possible that Hagel has since changed his position, perhaps due to changing facts on the ground as Iran’s nuclear development has grown and diplomatic efforts have seen setbacks."
Roger Cohen in The New York Times on oil dependance The U.S. National Intelligence Council reported in a recent study that "by 2020, the U.S. could emerge as a major energy exporter." This changes everything, argues Roger Cohen. "In other words, think of the world before the first oil shock of 1973 to get some notion of what is afoot," Cohen writes. "In the Middle East, the equation switches when China becomes more dependent on a steady oil supply and more concerned on an economic basis about the region than the United States."
Simon Jenkins in The Guardian on North Korea Simon Jenkins isn't freaked out by North Korea's recent rocket launch, but he is freaked out by everyone who's freaking out over it. "The greatest menace posed by terrorist regimes is not military but political," Jenkins writes. "Terrorism relies for its impact on the multiplier of publicity and politics. Most nations can survive physical disasters, whether from bombs or natural catastrophes. Their freedoms wane and their cultures fall apart only when their leaders lose confidence in themselves or seek strength from exaggerating a threat."
Jeffrey Goldberg in Bloomberg View on Australia Whenever we talk about China's relationship with other nations, we usually examine their ties to the U.S., or maybe Japan, and sometimes harsh Middle Eastern regimes like Syria. But Jeffrey Goldberg sees China leaving a big footprint in its less talked-about neighbor to the south, Australia. "Although there is limited appetite in Australia for Asian immigrants," Goldberg writes, "there is no limit to the Australian appetite for Asian money. Most of the country’s political and economic elite, led by [Prime Minister Julia] Gillard, seem eager to pivot their economy toward Asia."
Palav Babaria in the Los Angeles Times on the uninsured On the verge of the Affordable Health Care's approaching deadline for states to decide whether or not they want to set up their own health insurance exchanges, San Francisco-based doctor Palav Babaria reflects on all the patients she still sees who don't have insurance. "There is no class in medical school that covers telling someone she has metastatic cancer and, in the same breath, telling her there's nothing you can do — because she doesn't have insurance," she writes. "I'm not a fortune teller, but I can predict that tragedies ... are inevitable without universal insurance coverage."