Five Best Thursday Columns

Ahmed Khalaf Al-Dulaimi on the threat of ISIL to Iraqis, Nicholas Kristof on American racial prejudice, Rand Paul on U.S. foreign policy, Haaretz on Gaza's economy, and Philip Stephens on Scottish independence.

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Ahmed Khalaf Al-Dulaimi in The Washington Post on why Iraqis need U.S. help to fight the Islamic State. Al-Dulaimi, who is governor of Anbar province in Iraq, writes that Iraqis are as outraged over the atrocities committed by ISIL as the U.S. "For about a year, Anbar has been fighting a fierce war against the terrorism of the Islamic State... We are fighting this war to defend the right of all humanity, and not only Iraqis, to live in peace, regardless of race, religion or ethnicity." Al-Dulaimi appeals to the U.S. for continued help in fighting the Islamic terrorist organization.  "We are proud, and we are fighting because we want to live free, because we want to rid the world of this cancer that has hijacked our religion, because we are concerned that a generation will be brainwashed to glorify death, suicide bombings, beheadings. History will not forgive us if we allow this cancer to spread. It must be stopped. We cannot stop it alone."

Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times on the underlying racial prejudices at play in the United StatesKristof writes that America still has a problem with racism, although the problem is more entrenched than the majority of people believe. "Research in the last couple of decades suggests that the problem is not so much overt racists. Rather, the larger problem is a broad swath of people who consider themselves enlightened, who intellectually believe in racial equality, who deplore discrimination, yet who harbor unconscious attitudes that result in discriminatory policies and behavior." Kristof suggests possible solutions, but concludes "an uncomfortable starting point is to understand that racial stereotyping remains ubiquitous, and that the challenge is not a small number of twisted white supremacists but something infinitely more subtle and complex: People who believe in equality but who act in ways that perpetuate bias and inequality."

Rand Paul in The Wall Street Journal on why interventionist U.S. policies in Syria led to the rise of the Islamic State (subscription). The Senator from Kentucky suggests that U.S. attempts to weaken Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad ultimately emboldened the Islamic State. "To interventionists like former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, we would caution that arming the Islamic rebels in Syria created a haven for the Islamic State. We are lucky Mrs. Clinton didn't get her way and the Obama administration did not bring about regime change in Syria." Paul contends that America should realize the limits of its foreign policy and change course. "A more realistic foreign policy would recognize that there are evil people and tyrannical regimes in this world, but also that America cannot police or solve every problem across the globe. Only after recognizing the practical limits of our foreign policy can we pursue policies that are in the best interest of the U.S."

Haaretz on why it's in Israel's interest to help Gaza develop its economic potential. The Israeli paper contends that for peace to last, Israel must help Gaza develop a stable economy. "For the third time in a decade, Israel has come to understand that military force isn’t enough to deter organizations weaker than it and that the brutal blockade of the Gaza Strip will not foment a civil rebellion against Hamas. Until now Israel’s policy has been that quiet would bring economic development; this policy collapsed in Gaza. It’s time to adopt a new policy — that development will bring quiet." Israel, the editors suggest, has an important stake in seeing the Gazan economy succeed. "The Gaza Strip, with its 1.8 million residents, needs not just reconstruction of its ruins but economic development that will include sea access, an airport and the investment of billions of dollars so that it can realize its potential for growth. This is the approach that ought to guide the State of Israel if it wants to turn the declared cease-fire into a long-term reality."

Philip Stephens in The Financial Times on why Scotland should remain a part of the United Kingdom.  "The Queen would remain Scotland’s head of state. The BBC might be rebadged as the Scottish Broadcasting Corporation, but would still broadcast popular British series... The SNP plan for a lopsided currency union with the rest of the UK would leave economic power in London. A frontier without border posts would not allow any change in immigration policy. So why, the simple question nags, discard Scotland’s Britishness?... Why does Scotland want to be independent if their independence brings with it little change in their role in the U.K.?" Stephens contends that Alex Salmond, who is leading the push for Scottish independence, is ultimately relying on nationalistic sentiment rather than practical realities. "Though he cannot admit it, Mr Salmond is left with the romantic pull of Braveheart nationalism. His campaign should not be underestimated for that. He is an accomplished communicator with charm to temper ruthlessness."

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