Five Best Monday Columns

The New York Times on the Afghan elections, Bloomberg View on the U.N. Climate Summit, Matthew Bishop on the Clinton Global Initiative, Gideon Rachman on growing nationalism, and David Gergen on war with ISIS.

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The Washington Post on how the election of future Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is an important step forward for the country. The editors praise the agreement between Ghani and his opponent, Abdullah Abdullah, to settle the recent Afghan election. "Mr. Ghani’s presidency was not, by any reasonable measure, the result of a fair and credible election. Even so, Secretary of State John Kerry and his team in Kabul deserve recognition for formulating a power-sharing plan that gave the Afghans a way out of a crisis that could easily have plunged the country into a disastrous cycle of violence. If it works, this will mark the first peaceful transfer of power in the country’s history." Despite this important step forward, it remains to be seen whether or not the deal will hold. "It is a relief to see Mr. Karzai hand over the reins of power. But the change of leadership in Kabul is dampened by serious concerns over whether the power-sharing deal will prove durable."

Bloomberg View on why this week's United Nation's Climate Summit is worthwhile. The purpose of the New York summit is not to enact specific policies, but to demonstrate that enacting green policies is feasible and worthwhile. "A main purpose is to highlight efforts under way to cut greenhouse-gas emissions -- and to demonstrate that progress is feasible, affordable and happening. Because the need to build political support for stronger action is paramount, that's a crucial message... Resistance to stronger measures on climate change is driven partly by the fear that they'd be prohibitively expensive and set back economic growth. Intelligent action, on the contrary, is affordable and isn't anti-growth." On example that proves this point is carbon taxes. "Several countries, for instance, have used carbon taxes to good effect -- showing that this policy can successfully reduce emissions without imposing a burden on the economy or causing any of the other problems that critics assert...  Paying attention to what works is always worthwhile."

Matthew Bishop in Politico on why a potential Hillary Clinton presidency could threaten the future of the Clinton Global Initiative. Bishop believes that should Hillary become oresident, Bill Clinton's CGI would struggle with conflict of interest issues. "The CGI—awash as it is with big business and billionaires—could affect how candidate Hillary Clinton is perceived by the electorate and how President Hillary Clinton would deal with potential conflicts of interests arising from CGI’s work... The pressure to shutter the initiative will only grow stronger if Hillary Clinton wins the right to occupy the Oval Office." Ultimately, Bishop suggests that the CGI, which many wrote off in the beginning, has grown into a successful and valuable enterprise that should continue whether or not Hillary becomes president. "Mr. Clinton insists that, if his wife were in the White House, CGI would go on, with Chelsea increasingly to the fore in its leadership. This has become his most important work, he says. Love or hate the Clintons, if for some reason CGI does have to stop, it would almost certainly be necessary to invent something else like it."

Gideon Rachman in The Financial Times on why nationalistic sentiment is thriving. Rachman writes that despite the 21st Century push towards globalization, last week's Scottish referendum reinforces the resurgence of  nationalistic sentiment. "The referendum was watched eagerly by separatist movements in Catalonia, Tibet, Quebec and elsewhere. Separatist movements are one facet of the resurgence of nationalism. In Europe, Asia and the Middle East, nationalist politicians are on the march – even well established states." Rachman suggests that part of the reason renewed nationalism is a desire for stability in an increasingly chaotic world. "Indeed the disorientating effects of globalisation probably encourage people to look for reassurance and meaning in things that are more local or national, whether it is a common language or a shared history. Suspicion of globalisation and international finance also received a huge boost after the economic crisis of 2008."

David Gergen on CNN on why the Obama administration's war against the Islamic State is off to a rocky start. Gergen writes that since President Obama's announcement of the current U.S. offensive, the administration has stumbled. "With one hapless episode after another, the rollout of the President's plan to destroy ISIS is beginning to rival the less-than-splendid debut of the Obamacare website... it is imperative and urgent that the Obama team and their allies take a deep breath, pull themselves together and get this war effort on solid footing." Gergen contends that part of the problem in developing a clear message is that there remains a level of suspicion and distrust between the White House and the Pentagon. "The military worries that Obama and his team will micromanage... The White House worries that the military, hellbent upon victory, will accidentally drop bombs on too many innocents, inflaming opinion and making it harder to keep a coalition together... In coming days, through his time at the United Nations and back in the White House, the President must dramatically seize the reins of leadership [and] work in close harness with his military commanders."

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