Five Best Monday Columns

On bin Laden's Death, choosing provisional leaders, and battling obesity

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Nicholas Kristof on America's Vindication  Killing Osama bin Laden "is the single most important success the United States has had in its war against Al Qaeda," writes The New York Times' Nicholas Kristof today. He points out that "Bin Laden's ability to escape from the U.S., and his apparent impunity, fed an image in some Islamist quarters of America as a paper tiger." He also suggests that "Osama's declining image also means that he won’t be a martyr in many circles (although if Americans appear too celebratory and triumphant, dancing on his grave, that may create a sympathetic backlash for Osama)." There's always the possibility of a return attack by Al Qaeda. "But after all Al Qaeda has already been trying to hit us," Kristof notes. "It's not as if it has shown any restraint."

Mark Moyar on Choosing the Right Provisional Leaders  "Unfortunately," argues Mark Moyar in The New York Times, "we have repeatedly ruined transitions to democracy by backing provisional leaders who broke promises to govern virtuously and instead focused on staying in power and silencing their political opponents." He recalls examples in Eritrea, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Yemen. For starters, says Moyar, "we can spend more time researching prospective candidates," avoid simply favoring "those who wax eloquent about democracy and moderation, hold advanced degrees and speak English," and instead look for those "with executive experience ... or years of service in parties or legislatures." He argues that Obama must find "personalities strong enough to sweep others along with them, but not so strong that they alienate fellow elites."

Jim Lacey on Questions After Bin Laden's Death  Jim Lacey acknowledges Osama bin Laden's death as a victory for the United States and an effective warning to all those who may be plotting against us, but questions whether this will actually bring change. "Since shortly after 9/11, Osama has been little more than a figurehead," losing his authority with his ability to fund al-Qaeda. "The U.S. military has done an outstanding job in tearing the original al-Qaeda to shreds." He points out at the National Review Online that, "Unfortunately, the new al-Qaeda does not need bin Laden to continue operations." Lacey wonders about the intelligence retrieved from the compound in which Osama was killed. "It will be very interesting to discover who helped and protected him all these years," writes Lacey.

Gregory Rodriguez on Sacrificing for Charity  The Los Angeles Times' Gregory Rodriguez derides "compassionate consumerism," arguing against the notion "that charity can not only be hip but entirely compatible with living large or even getting rich--no sacrifice necessary." He points to Sister Mary Rose Christy, a late friend who dedicated her life sacrificing for the sake of others. "It's easy enough to see that actively working for a cause is different--and better--than passively supporting it through what you buy," he argues. "And it's easy enough to see that real money or real time spent is genuine sacrifice--you'll have to surrender one thing for the sake of another that is more important."

David Gratzer on Bottom-Up Weight Loss  David Gratzer argues at National Review Online that Michelle Obama's new effort to urge "the National Restaurant Association and its members to curb portion sizes," is misguided: American restaurants' over-sized portions are a product of demand, and smaller portions will likely mean people will just buy more. People need to decide on their own to eat less, perhaps with a little extra motivation. He points to the consumer-focused weight-loss campaigns with which the mayors of Oklahoma City and Newark have already had some success. "Politicians can't control your diet or exercise habits from Washington," he notes. "In contrast, all who enlist in these civic fitness campaigns can actually control the outcome of their efforts."

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