Five Best Tuesday Columns

Roger Cohen on Europe, Marc Thiessen on Marco Rubio, Matt Kaminski on Tunisia. 

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Roger Cohen on loving the EU "Loving an entity is hard, given the intangibility of the thing, but I love the bland Brussels institutions that gave my generation a peace denied its forbears," Roger Cohen writes in The New York Times. The European Union, "an act of creative genius," allows today's Europeans to "take peace for granted." It's hard to remember the wars, Cohen writes, with such fluid borders between once warring states, but increasing parallels between today's crisis and the one Europe faced in 1939 tell Cohen that there is "a dawning sense of the gravity of Europe's crisis." Cohen says those who put their country ahead of Europe are making for "dangerous times." The creation of the Euro was "an irrevocable political decision" but because it came as European idealism faded, it was a preordained crisis. Even more broadly, European leaders need to convince a people who think the rich are getting richer that austerity is required of them. Cohen writes: "'Capitalism is crisis,' says a big banner of the Occupy movement at St. Paul's in London. Indeed it is... The European Union was created for such a moment. It was meant to guarantee the impossibility of the worst -- not to deliver Europeans to postmodern bliss but to save them from the hell that began almost a century ago in 1914..." Now, Cohen says Europe must fight this battle with financial weapons. Exiting the Euro can't happen, but a defense of the Euro, "will demand a federative leap forward." It may cost a lot, but it "will be good for Europeans even though they cannot see it now."

Marc Thiessen on the Post's Rubio accusations Last week, a Washington Post article said Sen. Marco Rubio "embellished" his "claim that he was the 'son of exiles' when his parents had in fact arrived before Fidel Castro took power, not after, as he had previously claimed." Post columnist Marc Thiessen takes issue with his paper's use of the word "embellish," which he says accuses "Rubio not simply of being mistaken but of lying." Thiessen writes, "his article offers no evidence that Rubio deliberately misled anyone or that he knew his parents arrived before Castro took power but said otherwise." Rubio has said, "Until very recently I did not realize the date, and once I realized it I stopped saying it." Rubio denies the idea that he deliberately changed facts to gain political advantage. Actually, having parents who arrived before the revolution, after which Cuban immigrants had easier paths to citizenship, could benefit him, since some resent that later easing of immigration rules. Rubio also opposes the Post's assertion that he's thus not the son of exiles since his parents still couldn't return to their country of origin for political reasons. "As the son of an exile," Thiessen writes, "I could not agree more." Thiessen's mother left Poland as a Nazi prisoner of war. She didn't return when the Communists took over. And though she'd fled Nazis, not Communists, she was still a political exile of Communist Poland, he says. Furthermore, Thiessen trusts Rubio's claim that he didn't know the details of his parents own immigration since his mother was extremely reticent about her experience. The Post story "would have been correct if he had simply reported that he had uncovered inaccuracies in Rubio's story," Thiessen writes. "But he went too far in accusing Rubio of 'embellishing' and questioning his place as a member of the exile community."

Matt Kaminski on the Islamist victory in Tunisia Politician Rachid al-Ghannouchi tried to get an aide to stand in line for him at a voting station in Tunisia this Sunday, but the crowd wouldn't allow it. "VIPs don't get to make their own rules after January's revolution inspired uprisings across the Arab world," writes Matt Kaminski in The Wall Street Journal..Ghannouchi waited two hours in line to vote, and now he and the Nahda Party he leads "will play the leading role" in Tunisia's next chapter. The Nahda Party's landslide success will worry some who are anxious that the Arab Spring will bring Islamist regimes to power. But "Nahda presented a face more in sync with the democratic times and Tunisia's secular, moderate society." Ghannouchi doesn't want to bring back polygamy, he says, or revoke women's rights. "During Yom Kippur, party officials brought flowers and greetings to remnants of the Jewish community in the Goulette quarter of Tunis." Kaminski writes, "By these appearances, Nahda plans to adjust itself to Tunisian society, not the other way around." The newly elected assembly is to write a constitution before dissolving and holding elections for a parliament and president, and Nahda plans to form a coalition with some secular parties as well. Still, "For good reason, many are skeptical about Nahda's new look," Kaminski says. "[R]eligious parties use false promises and democratic elections to come to power." Ghannouchi acknowledges these fears, but says that if they go back on election promises, "everything is on the record. We have to face another election in a year. After that nobody will believe anything we say, ever, and we will lose power for good." Kaminski says it remains to be seen whether Nahda can prove that Islamists and democracy can ever work together.

Jonah Goldberg on the fallacy of American imperialism Jonah Goldberg writes in the Los Angeles Times that he worries the announced departure of Iraq is "a strategic blunder," but "there's an upside. Obama's decision to leave Iraq should deal a staggering blow to America's critics at home and abroad," particularly those who accuse us of imperialism. 'Empire' is "used as an epithet by both the isolationist left and right," he says. America isn't an empire by traditional definitions. "Your typical empire invades countries to seize their resources, impose political control and levy taxes," he writes. "For all the blood-for-oil nonsense, if America wanted Iraq's oil it could have saved a lot of blood and simply bought it." Moreover, we never taxed the Iraqis, paying for the war ourselves, and we certainly didn't have political control there. "Some partisans will undoubtedly say that the key difference is that Barack H. Obama, and not George W. Bush, is president." That ignores that Obama is using Bush's timeline and in other ways has "moved closer to Bush than anybody could have predicted." In Libya, Goldberg argues, Obama pursued "forcible regime change," and though circumstances were different, the concept is the same as Bush's. "In many quarters of the Middle East, the war on terror is cast as a religiously inspired front for crusader-imperialism." In fact, we've gone to war to protect Muslim lives many times, and never have we tried to convert anyone. "To say we did these things simply for plunder and power is an insult to all Americans, particularly those who gave their lives in the process."

Frank Bruni on federalism and conceal-carry permits Frank Bruni says he thought he knew all the inconveniences of domestic air travel, but he hasn't even considered the trouble he'd have "if I were a gun owner with a permit to carry a concealed firearm in my home state and an itch to do so in any other state I visited as well. As matters now stand, I'd have to defer to the laws of those states, which vary widely," he writes in The New York Times. Some states would need only see his permit from home, while other "sticklers" might defer to their own laws that prevent those with a "violent misdemeanor conviction, a history of alcohol abuse or any actual training in weapon safety" from carrying the firearm. "Thank heaven for the National Rifle Association," he says which supports a bill that would force states to honor conceal and carry permits issued by another state. Dropping his sarcastic sympathy for gun-toting travelers, he says the position is "hypocrisy" for "conservatives who otherwise complain about attempts by an overbearing federal government to trample on states' rights in the realms of health care, tort reform, education -- you name it." "Imagine how apoplectic they'd be if" the U.S. used the same reasoning to force states in the south and west to recognize same-sex marriage laws. To be fair, Bruni says the N.R.A.'s law has Democratic supporters, too, but that doesn't change the fact that "H.R. 822, now in the House Judiciary Committee, makes a mockery of our diverse values and strategies for public safety."

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