Five Best Sunday Columns

Our promise to Libya, our changing military role, and pills to make short kids grow

This article is from the archive of our partner .

Jeff Jacoby on Why We Can't Break Our Promise to Libya's Rebels After the first Gulf War, President George H.W. Bush urged for Iraqis to overthrow Saddam Hussein. They tried--rebels took 14 of the 18 provinces in Iraq--and failed. American never rushed to their rescue, so Saddam was able to easily crush the rebellion, killing tens of thousands. He reigned for 12 more years. When the U.N. authorized airstrikes in Libya, "Had it dawned on Obama that he was on the verge of repeating Bush the Elder’s disastrous blunder?" The Boston Globe's Jeff Jacoby wonders. "The president’s resolve comes late--dangerously late. Let us hope he has realized that this is no time to go wobbly, and that it is not too late to save the Libyan resistance."

Doyle McManus on Letting Someone Else Lead in Libya Some criticized President Obama for delaying action on stopping Muammar Qaddafi from crushing protesters, but waiting for an international consensus--including an endorsement from the Arab League--might lead to positive lasting change outside Libya, too, the Los Angeles Times' Doyle McManus writes. "Americans and the rest of the world have gotten used to seeing the United States take the lead role" on such military actions, "but this time we are not fully in charge. The arrangement, if successful, could lead to a new model in which the United States doesn't have to command every campaign and lead every charge." Which could be just as important as toppling Qaddafi.

Nicholas Kristof on What We Can Learn from Japan "When America is under stress, as is happening right now with debates about where to pare the budget, we sometimes trample the least powerful and most vulnerable among us," The New York Times' Nicholas Kristof writes. But that's not happening in Japan. Selfless workers are anonymously risking their lives to prevent disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Kristof says the Japanese have "a kind of national honor code"--even cheap restaurants lend you an umbrella in a rainstorm. Schools in poor Japanese neighborhoods are excellent, the gap between the rich and poor is much smaller, and Japanese bankers don't indulge in outrageous pay packages. Americans could use a lesson in sacrificing for the common good.

Alice Dreger on the Ethics of Giving Your Kid Height-Boosting Drugs Because it had to be harvested from cadavers' brains, human growth hormone--which can trick young bodies into growing taller than they normally would--used to be scarce and risky. But drug companies have figured out how to make recombinant human growth hormone, or rHGH, with bacteria, and naturally they worked to expand their market. Why not prescribe rHGH to short kids, instead of only children born with lower levels of the hormone? The FDA recently approved use of rHGH for cosmetic reasons. But parents tempted to get these drugs for their young shrimp should think twice. Studies show there's little lasting psychological damage from being teased on the playground for being short. And a new study suggests there's a 30 percent increased risk of death associated with the drug. Is looking average worth that risk? "Children cannot afford us to confuse cosmetic differences with meaningful medical benefits," the Chicago Tribune's Alice Dreger writes.

Maureen Dowd on Chris Dodd's New Hollywood Gig Former Sen. Chris Dodd had a rough last term in office--the grind of pushing through Obama's health care overhaul, the criticism of the special deal he got on his mortgage from a massive subprime lender. Now, Dodd is easing into a new role: head of the Motion Picture Association of America, The New York Times' Maureen Dowd explains. Dodd has had his brushes with stars before--from campaigning with Paul Simon to being snubbed by Katherine Hepburn. Hollywood is a great advertisement for the U.S. in hostile parts of the world, Dodd says. And for other stuff too: Dodd says he saw Birdman of Alcatraz as a teenager and was deeply moved by the story of a "lovely man who loved birds in jail... "And we got my father, who was in the Senate, so upset, he calls the attorney general of the United States. And apparently the Birdman was a serial killer, but they forgot to tell you in the movie."

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