Five Best Wednesday Columns

Eliza Gray on Bradley Manning and the TimesDaphne Wysham on the World Bank, Henry Paulson on China's cities, Shadi Hamid on Egypt, and Mark Adomanis on Syria.

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Eliza Gray in The New Republic on Bradley Manning Anyone following the Bradley Manning trial knows that not only is a lot at stake in terms of how the U.S. government treats military whistleblowers—but that details about Manning's isolated imprisonment are bizarre and fascinating. And New York Times readers won't be reading about that much, Eliza Gray notes. The paper didn't send a reporter to cover the trial, even though it thoroughly covered the wave of WikiLeaks documents for which Manning is being tried. "The Times’ attitude towards Assange and Manning is, at least, consistent with its treatment of leakers in the past," writes Gray, citing how the paper's lawyers left Daniel Ellsberg in the lurch during the Pentagon Papers trial. She writes that without Manning, "newspapers like the New York Times would suddenly see their source of so much Pulitzer-prize worthy material dry up. For journalists, readers, and lovers of democracy, that’s a scary thought."

Daphne Wysham in The Nation on the World Bank's climate commitment The World Bank recently issued one of the most unambiguous reports on climate change, warning that temperatures are likely to rise 4 degrees Celsius before the century's end unless drastic measures are taken to slow it. Daphne Wysham commends them for saying this, but wants the World Bank to make good on their own recommendations by divesting from fossil fuels. "What about the remaining 56 percent of World Bank energy lending, most of it still devoted to fossil fuels?" Wysham asks. "Is this what the bank calls “stepping up to the challenge” of climate change?"

Henry Paulson in The New York Times on China's urban future A severe economic downturn, tension between cities and the peripheries, mounting environmental concerns—no, this isn't a litany of problems facing the U.S. It's about the state of modern China, and former treasury secretary Henry Paulson argues that if the country wants to make good on its huge economic strides in recent decades it has to rejigger its urban policies. "A flawed system of municipal finance is driving debt, corruption and dissent, while unsustainable urban planning has yielded polluted cities that are destroying China’s ecosystem," Paulson writes. "Cities can, however, be part of the solution: better urban policies can put China on a healthier path forward, economically and environmentally."

Shadi Hamid in Foreign Policy on Egypt When most onlookers consider the growing protests in Egypt, they think it has everything to do with President Mohamed Morsi's power grab. But demonstrators aren't really concerned with Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood trying to rush through a new, undemocratic constitution, argues Shadi Hamid, who sees different groups getting angry for different reasons. He writes, "The opposition is an odd assortment of liberals, socialists, old regime nostalgists, and ordinary, angry Egyptians, each whom have their own disparate grievances and objectives." A dueling protest will reach Tahrir Square today.

Mark Adomanis in Forbes on Russia's unraveling ties to Syria The New York Times reported yesterday that even Russia, long thought to be Syria's most loyal ally, may be extracting itself from the worsening situation under President Bashar al-Assad. "I’ll believe it when I see it," writes Mark Adomanis. He wonders if Russia's approach to the conflict even matters anymore, writing, "Compared to Western analysis, which seems primarily focused on external factors such as the support Syria receives from Russia and Iran, Russian analysis seems far more narrowly focused on the internal sectarian dynamics of Syria and the incentives faced by Assad and the small clique surrounding him. This analysis basically comes to the conclusion that 'Syria is doomed regardless of what anyone does,' a nasty conclusion but one that I find perfectly logical."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.