Five Best Wednesday Columns

Ilan Berman on China and Iran, Margaret Carlson on Republican candidates, Kathleen Parker on Herman Cain

This article is from the archive of our partner .

Ilan Berman in The New York Times on China's enabling of Iran The International Atomic Energy Agency published a report yesterday providing evidence of Iran's ambition to build a nuclear weapon. "But as Iran nears the nuclear threshold, the best way to stop it may be by punishing the Chinese companies that supply Tehran and enable its nuclear progress," writes Berman, vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council. Berman describes the sanctions in place against Iran's energy sector, and details the evidence that Chinese financial institutions are averting those rules and Chinese diplomats are making nuclear regulation more complicated. He makes a case that a crackdown on Chinese enabling would effectively prevent Iran's nuclear program. He writes, "[T]he last, best hope of peacefully derailing Iran's nuclear drive lies in convincing Beijing that 'business as usual' with Tehran is simply no longer possible."

Margaret Carlson in Bloomberg View on the unlikely Republican front runners By supporting unrealistic candidates for president, Republican voters have been reenacting the "myth" of movies like "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" in which political upstarts outperform career politicians. "It's hard to imagine a gang less suited to the responsibilities of high office," writes Carlson. She describes the many reasons Cain was already ill-equipped to be the party's nominee, even before his sexual harassment allegations. Still unready to embrace Mitt Romney, the party could move on to another unlikely candidate, returning to the well-financed Rick Perry or even the improbable "rookie" Newt Gingrich. "For the moment, Gingrich is in a sweet spot between being written off for dead and serving as the repository for all the hopes, grievances, dreams and death wishes of Republican activists," Carlson writes.

Ishmael Reed in The New York Times on racial politics at Occupy Oakland Oakland's mayor, Jean Quan, has seen police brutality met with street violence at the Occupy protests there. "In their zeal to fight back, however, the protesters, many of them white out-of-towners, have left locals unsure of who really has their best interests at heart," writes Reed. He recounts the reports of police violence toward protesters and likens it to a history of police clashes with the city's racial minorities. The racial dynamics on display are striking, he says, with white protesters heckling an Asian mayor, the country watching reports of police brutality even as it historically ignored the same claims from the city's minorities, and the many minority-owned businesses hurt by the ongoing unrest. "The Occupy movement has important things to say," Reed says. "But in its hurry to speak, it risks shutting out those who have been waiting their turn for a long time."

Kathleen Parker in The Washington Post on Herman Cain's allegations The allegations of sexual harassment made against Herman Cain have many wondering what they'd do in this position. Men must wonder whether they would drop out of the race or deny the charges, and women ask themselves if they would file a suit, or keep quiet, or go public 14 years after an incident, writes Parker. Parker details the growing case against Cain, pointing out the trouble Cain faces now that Sharon Bialek has put her name to her allegations and lawyer Gloria Allred has lent her weight to them as well. Parker then puts herself in Cain's shoes to wonder how he might excuse his behavior as "within the bounds of acceptable," and finally decides he has "nothing to lose" by continuing to deny allegations, though the public is unlikely to buy it. "The beholder's eye is now public opinion and the image has been irretrievably set -- of a man and a woman in a parked car."

Derrick Jackson in The Boston Globe on Joe Frazier For much of his career, Joe Frazier, who died at 67 this week, remained in the shadow of Muhammed Ali. "While Muhammad Ali's boasting fit a time when a new generation of black Americans were shouting for respect, Frazier's relentless work ethic and life story remained representative of a black America that often worked its way out of Southern poverty by moving north to grind out a living." Jackson recounts Frazier's improbable life story and the reasons many didn't consider him a legitimate heavyweight champion. (He took the title when Ali was stripped of it for protesting the Vietnam war.) He notes the disrespect heaped on Frazier from Ali himself, but also the thawing between the two in recent years. "It would have been better, for the legacy of both men, and for a fuller appreciation of the millions of people Frazier's style represented, had the respect come much sooner."

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