Five Best Wednesday Columns
Michael Weiss provides a pathway to success in Syria, while Seumas Milne opposes any military strike, Vauhini Vara discusses the racial wealth gap, Drew Hanson appraises Dr. King's improvisation skills, and David Auerbach comes to the defense of Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer.
Michael Weiss at Foreign Affairs provides a pathway to success in Syria Given Secretary of State John Kerry's aggressive speech, Weiss recognizes that an attack on Syria is all but assured. But what's the strategy for punishing President Bashar al-Assad? Target Syrian air tarmacs and isolate state forces, Weiss argues. "So, it's as simple as this: If you take out the runways, Iranian and Russian planes cannot land; nor can Syrian planes take off." In addition, bringing down the current regime means that the U.S. and its allies "should now make recruiting and training many thousands more rebels a top priority," Weiss explains. "No exaggeration, this includes solid policy recommendation for the US - all the other fear-mongering is own agendas," writes Hassan Hassan, a columnist for United Arab Emirates-owned newspaper The National. "Will Obama listen? Very doubtful," tweets Michael Doran, an expert on international politics with the Middle East at the Brookings Institution. "But important to say it," he adds.
Vauhini Vara at The New Yorker on the racial wealth gap The economic gulf between blacks and whites was an important theme of the 1963 March on Washington, and it still exists: black families own just 7% of the wealth of their white counterparts. "Today, now that the wealth gap mostly has to do with investments—especially in housing—it would seem that the best policy solution would be to help people buy homes that they can afford and acquire other wealth-generating assets," Vara writes. One way for the government to accomplish this, Vara explains, is to support programs that promote savings like the non-profit EARN. Ben Mangan, the CEO of EARN writes, "Thoughtful piece in the New Yorker on poverty among African Americans. Proud that EARN is cited as a solution." But this isn't the be-all and end-all, as Politico deputy editor Blake Hounshell adds: "It's really complicated."
Seumas Milne in The Guardian opposes a military strike on Syria If the U.S. and its allies truly want to provide humanitarian help to the Syrian people, they should concentrate on brokering a ceasefire and end to the war rather than launching military strikes. "Instead, they seem intent on escalating the war to save Obama's face and tighten their regional grip," says Milne, who worries that interventions may lead to Syrian retaliations against Israel and other U.S. allies. "It's a dangerous gamble, which British MPs have a responsibility to oppose on Thursday." One of those MPs, Peter Hain, a Parliament member and former Leader of the House of Commons, strongly agrees. "Any MP planning to vote for attacking #Syria should first read @SeumasMilne," he writes. "Good analysis by @SeumasMilne," writes South Africa's News24 editor-in-chief Jannie Momberg.
Drew Hanson in The New York Times on Martin Luther King, Jr.'s improvisation skills On the 50th anniversary of Dr. King's "I have a dream" speech, Hanson reveals that the famous phrase was actually improvised by King, and not included in his written comments. In fact, the inspiration for the phrase came from gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, who encouraged Dr. King to “Tell them about the dream, Martin!”, a line that CNBC anchor Carl Quintanilla calls the "Best quotation, in any story, ANYWHERE, today." King heard Jackson's call, "And he was off, delivering some of the most beloved lines in American history, a speech that he never intended to give and that some of the other civil rights leaders believed no one but the marchers would ever remember," Hanson writes. "Wonderful deconstruction of MLK's oratory," writes Houston Chronicle reporter Monica Rhor.
David Auerbach at Slate defends Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer All the criticisms lobbed at Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer — too detailed, too confident, too many enemies — would be portrayed as positive attributes in a male business leader, Auerbach argues. But because Mayer is neither a man nor a corporate businessperson, many former colleagues have felt free to criticize her on the record, generally a taboo in the business. "For them, to be replaced by a technical woman is doubly threatening. If technical women can do the work of male businessmen, we might not need male businessmen anymore!" he sarcastically writes. "Marissa Mayer's Haters Gonna Hate," writes Hanna Rosin, The Atlantic senior editor and author of The End of Men.