Five Best Thursday Columns
The Guardian on Scotland, Michael Eric Dyson on Adrian Peterson, The Wall Street Journal on Obama, The Washington Post on Afghanistan, and Buffett, Blankfein, Bloomberg and Porter on Detroit.
The Guardian on why the campaign for Scottish independence has already been a victory. The editors write that the campaign for independence has been a model for history. "One only need look around the world and through the history books to know that this is not the usual way disputes of this kind are resolved. Dissolving a union is, all too often, the stuff of war and violence. But tomorrow Scotland will settle this momentous matter peacefully, through a vote and without a shot being fired." Despite this, the editors make their final case for keeping the union together. "The implications have not been worked through, the risks not fully addressed. What’s more, a decision of such gravity – to break away from a 300-year-old union – should be the settled will of a nation. The very fact that Scottish opinion is so closely divided is itself a weakness in the case for independence... Above all, the Guardian retains its belief in solidarity, in a world of fewer rather than more borders and in the union itself – as the best method of sharing the rewards and risks of our collective life together on what is still a small island."
Michael Eric Dyson in The New York Times on why African American parents have historically punished their children with violence. Dyson writes that Adrian Peterson's child abuse indictment reflects a larger trend in the black community. "Black parents beat their children to keep them from misbehaving in the eyes of whites who had the power to send black youth to their deaths for the slightest offense. Today, many black parents fear that a loose tongue or flash of temper could get their child killed by a trigger-happy cop. They would rather beat their offspring than bury them"... Dyson argues that combating violence with violence only perpetuates the larger problem. "After Mr. Peterson’s indictment, the comedian D. L. Hughley tweeted: 'A fathers belt hurts a lot less then a cops bullet!'... He is right, of course, but only in a forensic, not a moral or psychological sense. What hurts far less than either is the loving correction of our children’s misbehavior so they become healthy adults who speak against violence wherever they find it — in the barrel of a policeman’s gun, the fist of a lover or the switch of a misguided parent."
The Wall Street Journal on why it is a mistake for President Obama to rule out the use of ground troops against ISIS (subscription). The Journal writes that Obama is boxing himself into a position he may find untenable in the future. "A President at war can survive a military setback, but lost credibility is fatal. So President Obama ought to be worried that his promise never to put ground troops into Iraq or Syria is already undermining the campaign before serious fighting begins against the Islamic State. Few believe him, and they shouldn't if Mr. Obama wants to defeat the jihadists." Citing "The Powell Doctrine," the editors argue in favor of the use of decisive military force rather than a prolonged campaign. "All of this speaks to the greatest danger for Mr. Obama and American security—the sin of gradualism. Democracies aren't good at tolerating long wars, so it is better when using force to act fast, and decisively, with maximum appropriate firepower... This doesn't mean every use of American force requires 500,000 troops. But it does mean the military effort should be more than enough to complete the mission as soon as practicable."
The Washington Post on why Afghanistan's presidential candidates must agree on a power sharing agreement. The Post urges Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah to follow through on their promise for a unity government. "... the two leaders embody Afghanistan’s ethnic and geographical fault lines. Mr. Ghani is a Pashtun who won strong support in the country’s east and south — including, unfortunately, through ballot-box stuffing. Mr. Abdullah has the backing of northern Afghanistan’s Tajik and Hazara communities. The winner of the presidential election’s first round, Mr. Abdullah believes that Mr. Ghani benefited from massive fraud orchestrated by the Karzai government and that the rigging has not been fully reversed by a United Nations audit." With American attention on ISIS, The Post urges Ghani and Abdullah to assume responsibility for the future of Afghanistan. "The power-sharing deal between Mr. Ghani and Mr. Abdullah was initially brokered by Secretary of State John Kerry during a July visit to Kabul. But Mr. Kerry is consumed with other crises this week. It is up to Mr. Abdullah and Mr. Ghani to show that Afghanistan can have a future under moderate, pragmatic leaders who are able to compromise."
Warren Buffett, Lloyd Blankfein, Michael Bloomberg and Michael Porter in The Detroit Free Press on why Detroit is coming back. They write that Detroit is investing in entrepreneurs, promoting business, and taking steps to revitalize. "Detroit's leaders are making the tough decisions necessary to begin bringing it back from bankruptcy. In June, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed a $195-million state aid package for the city as part of a 'grand bargain' to remove Detroit from bankruptcy. Emergency manager Kevyn Orr has not shied away from the toughest issues. And Detroit Mayor Duggan has focused his first year on streamlining and improving city services. In addition, the Obama administration allocated $300 million to Detroit to support public transit, remove blight, and hire police officers and firefighters. Together, this bipartisan leadership is making it possible for Detroit to turn the corner." They continue, "Detroit can once again become a leading — and growing — city. It will take time, but the opportunity for growth in Detroit is stronger now that it has been in decades. With effective bipartisan leadership, vibrant economic development organizations, access to greater capital, and a support network that also offers business opportunities, entrepreneurs and small-business owners have a much better chance of succeeding."