Five Best Tuesday Columns

Richard Spencer fact-checks the British Parliament's Syria debate, Frank Bruni notes the pull of technology abroad, Elizabeth Weil on how schools hurt the "wild child," Tom Mahnken applies Clausewitz's war theories to Syria, and Dave Weigel warns The Onion.

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Richard Spencer at The Telegraph on Parliament's faulty Syria facts To Spencer's dismay, the British Parliament decided against becoming military involved in Syria after a debate that included spurious analysis and evidence, such as false suggestions that the Syrian rebels could have been responsible for the chemical attacks. "It was disappointing how many members trotted out arguments and 'facts' that have little credibility," Spencer writes, a worrying sign for a legislative branch pressing for more governing power. "If MPs really are going to take a larger part in formulating policy issues, they are going to have to be better informed." Peter Beaumont, The Guardian's foreign affairs reporter, tweets, "The always excellent @RichardJSpencer balanced, yet in a dry and salty way, on some MPs grasp of Syria facts," and Daniel Knowles, a writer for The Economist on British social affairs, writes, "This is damning."

Frank Bruni in The New York Times on the pull of technology abroad Even though he is currently traveling in Shanghai, Bruni notes the forceful pull to connect within the same cultural bubble as he had in America through the internet and modern technology. "But I’m haunted by how tempting it was to stay put, by how easily a person these days can travel the globe, and travel through life, in a thoroughly customized cocoon," Bruni writes, and adds: "We tune out by tucking ourselves into virtual enclaves in which our ingrained tastes are mirrored and our established opinions reflected back at us." Bruni's argument found approval from several writers located abroad, as well. "Oped by @FrankBruni echoes why I'm trying to limit screen time while I'm living in Italy," tweets Pavia Rosati, the founder of travel website Fathom. "Reading this in #Lebanon on iPad. V true. How we move around world but avoid being influenced by environment," writes Richard Colebourn, the Middle East bureau chief for BBC News.

Elizabeth Weil in The New Republic on how schools are hurting the "wild child" "Education is the business of shaping people," Weil writes, and laments schools' tendencies to eschew creativity for self-control and conformity. For example, Weil criticizes the time a teacher recommended her daughter for occupational therapy to correct the child's nonconformity, which is just one example of the education system's "scant tolerance for independence of mind," Weil writes. "Wonderful piece in @tnr calling out the BS over the fetish with grit and self-control," tweets Nikhil Goyal, a student activist and author on a book on American education policy. "Must-read article in The New Republic-- a defense of the wild, non-conforming child," writes American Enterprise Institute scholar Christina Sommers, who has written on schools' faulty behavioral punishments in her book The War on Boys.

Dave Weigel at Slate on The Onion's decreasing funniness The parody news site The Onion has published a series of semi-serious stories recently promoting intervention in Syria and gay marriage, and Weigel notes these are a "micro-Trend of ultra-shareable Onion pieces that just restate what a certain sort of liberal thinks," he writes. So why has the website resorted to defending popular liberal opinion? "Well, here's the fun: It's really shareable on Facebook!" Weigel writes. "The Onion will always be funnier than Andy Borowitz, and is still hilarious 90% of the time, but otherwise I agree," writes Gawker deputy editor Max Read. "Diagnosing the problem is the first step to a solution...," tweets Rebecca Sinderbrand, Politico's deputy White House editor.

Tom Mahnken at Foreign Policy on the unanswered questions of Obama's Syria plan Before ordering a cruise missile strike on Syria, Obama would be smart to adhere to the advice of the long-dead Prussian political scholar Carl von Clausewitz, who once wrote: "No one starts a war — or rather, no one in his senses ought to do so — without first being clear in his mind what he intends to achieve by that war and how he intends to conduct it." With that in mind, Mahnken calls on Congress to ask Obama a series of questions about his objectives and his strategies to achieve those, neither of which have been fully answered as of yet. "Clausewitz called. He was asking about something called a strategy in #Syria, I'm not sure what he was talking about," sarcastically writes Business Insider front page editor and national security writer Paul Szoldra. "In war, don't take the first step w/out considering the last — good advice for Obama on #syria," tweets Laura Cellier, France 24 TV news anchor.

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