Thomas L. Friedman in The New York Times on Syria Thomas L. Friedman serves up a generous dollop of fear in his latest in this column about Syria, considering the worst case scenario for the Middle East's future. "I fear that it could be the full nightmare," he predicts. "The whole Middle East erupts in one giant sound and light show of civil wars, states collapsing and refugee dislocations, as the keystone of the entire region—Syria—gets pulled asunder and the disorder spills across the neighborhood." Friedman argues that Syria could be the domino that brings all its neighboring countries down with it, unless the U.S. intervenes as "an outside power that can contain the explosions and mediate a new order."
Chuck Thompson in The New Republic on Texas In trying to send a message to the federal government about states' rights, secession advocates have only succeeded in inviting derision towards states like Texas. But Chuck Thompson is game to hear out the Lone Star State's case for breaking away from the Union. In theory they could manage to go it alone, Thompson argues, noting their plentiful natural resources and diverse economy. But perhaps the best solution wouldn't be full secession. "Turn Texas into Puerto Rico or Guam," he writes. "Give them some form of political and social expression in exchange for diminished power in federal government." Because if those calling for total secession want limited federal government, zero gun control, and completely unregulated capitalism, they already have a country to call home. "It's called the Democratic Republic of the Congo," Thompson writes. "Don’t mess with us, Texas. You just might get what you want."
Vali Nasr in Bloomberg View on drones It's not clear that the Benghazi consulate attack had anything to with al- Qaeda, but Vali Nasr takes it as a sign that U.S. counterterrorism strategies aren't working in the region. Specifically, he singles out drone use as something the military should reconsider in its efforts to cripple terrorist organizations. Simply assassinating suspects with the aid of unmanned aircraft won't address the institutional problems that let these groups thrive. "Going forward, the U.S. can no longer rely principally on drone strikes," Nasr writes. "The policy in Obama’s second term should focus more on shoring up failing states and denying al- Qaeda new havens. Only then would counterterrorism efforts actually diminish the organization."
Christopher Dickey in The Daily Beast on Jordan As protests and riots break out in cities throughout Jordan, many are wondering what the civil unrest means for the country's leadership. Christopher Dickey, for one, says the days of King Abdullah and Queen Rania's reign could be numbered. "Monarchies traditionally rely on a mystique that blends bloodlines with patriotism, and throughout history the wisest royals have been those who managed to remain above the fray of day to day politics," he writes. "The latest riots, which started over a hike in fuel prices, show that the 50-year-old Abdullah is finding that game increasingly hard to play."
Doyle McManus in the Los Angeles Times on Obama's cabinet Now that he's won a second term, President Obama will have to work on building a new "team of rivals." But don't hope to see many fresh faces in Obama's cabinet, because the President has been content to "shuffle the chairs," as Doyle McManus puts it. U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice will likely become Secretary of State, White House chief of staff Jacob Lew will probably become the Treasury secretary, and Homeland Security head Janet Napolitano seems primed to become attorney general. "There's no shortage of competence there," McManus writes. "None will have any difficulty getting confirmed, with the possible exception of Rice. But the reshuffled team doesn't expand an insular administration's gene pool much, and that has some Democrats outside the White House worried."
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