Five Best Friday Columns

Amr Darrag on the U.S. role in Egypt's mess, James Traub on Obama's weak Egyptian foreign policy, Julia Ioffe opposes a gay rights boycott of the Russian Olympics, Peggy Noonan on the importance of privacy, and Jill Lawrence on the real Washington, D.C.

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Amr Darrag in The New York Times on the U.S. role in Egypt's mess As a former minister in Egypt's deposed Muslim Brotherhood party and founder of the Islamist group Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), Darrag dismisses the current government administration as a "military coup," a "junta," and "illegal putsch." He calls for the reinstatement of Muhammed Morsi and accuses the U.S. of hypocrisy. "American politicians won’t hesitate to flout their own laws or subvert their declared values for short-term political gains; and that when it comes to freedom, justice and human dignity, Muslims need not apply." "Interesting read," tweets Vali Nasr, dean of Johns Hopkins' School of Advanced International Studies, but Hoda Osman, the president of the Arab and Middle Eastern Journalists Association, tweets that it reads too much like party propaganda: "Surprised the NYT agreed to publish this." Randa Slim, a scholar at the Middle East Institute, writes, "It is time for FJP to move beyond restoring #Morsi presidency. It is finished."

James Traub in Foreign Policy on Obama's weak foreign policy in Egypt "Speak softly and carry no stick," reads the headline of Traub's article, which criticizes the lack of any morality in Obama's realistic, consequentialist foreign policy approach to Egypt. Cutting off military aid to Egypt over its violent crackdown will likely not have any impact, but, Traub writes, "it has become a matter of national self-respect. … Democracies have to be able to look at themselves in the mirror, and to accept, if not like, what they see." BBC News analyst Dr. James Boys writes, "Nice piece on @ForeignPolicy as #Obama forgets/ignores Teddy Roosevelt's approach to foreign policy." Traub writes a "powerful & incisive piece on Obama admin and #Egypt," tweets David Kaye, a human rights law professor and former State Department lawyer. "Worth reading this take on Obama's foreign policy," tweets Reuters reporter Myra MacDonald.

Julia Ioffe in The New Republic on a boycott of the Olympics over Russia's anti-gay laws Russia's strict laws against gay propaganda and general homophobia have caused some to suggest a boycott of the Sochi Olympics in 2014, but Ioffe, a former Moscow-based reporter, thinks it would be counterproductive. "This kind of wide, deep social acceptance of an idea cannot be changed from the outside; societies just don't work like that," she writes. "The most Westerners can do is have their athletes go and win at the Olympics and show that their being gay is not a mark of shame or abnormality." However, former Russian journalist and human rights diplomat Catherine Fitzpatrick disagrees, and writes that a boycott isn't about affecting change, "it's about showing solidarity to the many men and women who are literally having their heads bloodied right now in gay demonstrations and parades." Given the U.S.'s anger over Russia's amnesty for Edward Snowden, BuzzFeed's Chris Geidner, who frequently reports on gay rights, writes, "I think there are two different, albeit conflated, questions here: one about the country itself, the other about the Olympics."

Peggy Noonan in The Wall Street Journal on importance of privacy In a world without any privacy, Noonan writes, "Americans will become careful about what they say that can be misunderstood or misinterpreted, and then too careful about what they say that can be understood," she explains. "The inevitable end of surveillance is self-censorship." Minnesota State Sen. Michelle Benson writes that Noonan's column shows "How the 4th Amendment protects the 1st." And in light of last night's report of classified documents in The Washington Post on the NSA's illegal surveillance of Americans, Post's Wonkblog writer Evan Soltas notes, "Of all people, Peggy Noonan has exceptionally lucky timing in her column tomorrow, which is on privacy and the NSA."

Jill Lawrence in National Journal on the real Washington, D.C. Netflix's hit show House of Cards and Mark Leibovich's book This Town both claim to represent politics in the nation's capital, but neither is all that representative of D.C., Lawrence argues, particularly the parts about revenge policies and do-anything-for-face-time attitude. "Go ahead, make fun of us. But do it because maybe we take ourselves, our responsibilities, and national policy too seriously," she writes. "Not because we are trying to claw our way into green rooms or exact melodramatic revenge over a slight." Former GOP consultant Gorden Hensley tweets that it's a "reality check," and longtime D.C.-based political columnist Walter Shapiro writes, "Smart fun @JillDLawrence piece ... Spoiler: Nobody is murdered in This Town."

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