Five Best Monday Columns

Ron Prosor on Qatar and terrorism, Cass R. Sunstein on immigration, Ammar Abdulhamid on Syria, Charles Krauthammer on Iraq, and Michelle Chen on youth imprisonment.

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Ron Prosor in The New York Times on how Qatar is threatening stability in the Middle East. Israel's ambassador to the United Nations claims that the oil-rich nation of Qatar has become one of the largest funders of terrorist groups in the world. "Today, the petite petroleum kingdom is determined to buy its way to regional hegemony, and like other actors in the Middle East, it has used proxies to leverage influence and destabilize rivals. Qatar’s proxies of choice have been radical regimes and extremist groups." He contends that Qatar's continued financing of Hamas is the largest barrier to lasting peace in Gaza. "Qatar’s continued sponsorship of Hamas all but guarantees that, whatever happens in this round of hostilities, the terrorist group will rearm and renew hostilities with Israel. The only way forward is to isolate Hamas’s last major backer."

Cass Sunstein in Bloomberg View on why the public won't listen to economists when they say that immigration reform will help the economy. Sunstein argues that the broad economic consensus on immigration won't translate to political action. "Economists disagree about a lot of things, but on behalf of immigration reform, there is a professional consensus that cuts across the usual political divisions. Why, then, has reform stalled in Congress?... on issues with heavy symbolic dimensions, where emotions tend to run high, economists have far less influence, even if they speak with one voice. Would Americans benefit from more trade with China? Most economists say yes, but only a minority of Americans agrees -- even after they learn what economists think." The problem may come from America's uneasiness with elite academics. "When the challenge comes from economists, there’s another problem: Americans do not much trust the economics profession... So drawing attention to what economists think is not the best way to promote immigration reform. It would be far more effective to provide concrete evidence of the benefits of such reform -- ideally from people the skeptics find credible."

Ammar Abdulhamid in The Guardian on why President Obama must focus his foreign policy attention on Syria. Abdulhamid writes that the only way the Obama administration can ultimately defeat ISIL is to arm moderate rebel groups in Syria. "Some 'realists' are advocating cooperation with Bashar al-Assad. But that wouldn’t just being doing 'stupid stuff' – it would be downright delusional, since cooperating with dictators who abuse their own people is exactly what gives rise to extremist anti-Western movements." He contends that despite the risks, American intervention is necessary. "Yes, American strikes may make disaffected Muslims more eager to join Isis. Yes, we may be witnessing the birth of a new Islamic sect. But Barack Obama needs to stop fighting the symptoms while embracing the disease."

Charles Krauthammer in The Chicago Tribune on why American support is critical in Iraq. The solution in Iraq, Krauthammer writes, requires continued American air support. "Obama had said that there is no American military solution to the conflict. This may be true, but there is a local military solution. And that solution requires U.S. air support... People follow the strong horse over the weak horse, taught Osama bin Laden. These jihadis came out of nowhere and shocked the world by capturing Mosul, Tikrit and the approaches to Kurdistan, heretofore assumed to be impregnable... Now that's begun to be reversed." In order to stamp out the threat, Krauthammer contends that the President must make a decision to expand the current U.S. mission in Iraq. "For now, Obama can get away with stretching the existing rationale, but not if he is to conduct a sustained campaign. For this you must make the larger case that we simply cannot abide a growing jihadist state in the heart of the Middle East, fueled by oil, advanced weaponry and a deranged fanaticism."

Michelle Chen at Al Jazeera America on teenagers and the problems with our prison system. A recent report from the Department of Justice tells a story of shocking brutality at New York City's Rikers Island jail, as young inmates are beaten, humiliated, and worse, in order to punish misbehavior. "The oppression is enforced by Orwellian tactics. After brutalizing a child, according to the report, 'staff often yell ‘stop resisting’ even though the adolescent has been completely subdued or, in many instances, was never resisting in the first place,' to falsely portray the child as the aggressor." An underlying cause of these problems, according to Chen, is the growing tendency to treat young teenagers as a adults, throwing them into a prison system that can't hope to rehabilitate them. "Many of these youths come from backgrounds of trauma and instability. Why shunt them to a place designed to break them even further? The walls at Rikers stretch well beyond the island."

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