Five Best Tuesday Columns

Gideon Rachman on a lack of U.S. allies, Mickey Edwards and David Skaggs on war powers, Frank Bruni on Obama's rhetoric, Simon Jenkins on the NATO summit, and Leonid Bershidsky on leaked celebrity photos. 

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Gideon Rachman in The Financial Times on why the United States needs more help from its allies. Rachman writes that the U.S. has largely been acting alone to keep the world safe and secure, but can no longer sustain that. "The biggest weakness in the global security system is not a lack of resolve in Washington, but the learned helplessness of America’s regional allies. The Nato summit this week in Wales represents a crucial opportunity for America’s most important allies to start doing more to share the burden. If they fail, the inability of the US to police the world alone will become increasingly apparent, and the various global security crises will intensify." Leaving America without international support has left the door open for the West's adversaries. "Collectively, the west now accounts for a decreasing share of the world economy – as new sources of power and wealth rise up in Asia. A western-dominated world is therefore in danger of looking increasingly like an anachronism – and that is the proposition that, in their different ways, President Vladimir Putin of Russia, Isis and the Chinese military are testing."

This week’s absurdly lavish Nato summit in Wales could not be worse timed. It will be a public display of the impotence of what preens itself as the world’s most powerful alliance. Vladimir Putin, its historic foe, has been allowed to engineer its humiliation." By talking loudly, but doing nothing, Putin's position only grows stronger among those who back him. "All intelligence out of Moscow says the same, that [Nato's] bombast merely emboldens Putin. He can do what he wants in eastern Ukraine, because he has an army there and it enjoys widespread support among the Russian-speaking population. Peace and trade were slowly eroding the juggernaut of Russian power across eastern Europe. Now Nato’s pseudo-support for Kiev has played to Putin’s one strength: his support among Russian peoples along his borders."

Leonid Bershidsky in Bloomberg View on why Apple won't be held legally responsible for the massive leak of nude celebrity photos. It appears that a deficiency in Apple's iCloud security allowed hackers to access celebrities accounts, specifically the Find My iPhone feature: It did not have so-called brute force protection. Most major Web services won't allow a user to enter wrong passwords thousands of times: The account locks if someone tries it. That wasn't implemented in Find My iPhone, so passwords could be picked by what coders call 'brute force' — an exhaustive check of possible combinations." Despite this flaw, Bershidsky contends that legal responsibility lies with iCloud's users rather than with Apple. "As long as Apple can prove that it took care to prevent unauthorized access -- and even despite the Find My iPhone vulnerability, it will always be able to prove it -- any hacks are the user's fault after clicking that 'Accept' button."

Mickey Edwards and David Skaggs in The Los Angeles Times on why Congress must vote on military intervention in Iraq. Edwards and Skaggs write that the new mission to destroy ISIL in Iraq has already overstepped the bounds of Presidential authority. "The Constitution arguably permits the president to act to defend the nation and its citizens against an actual or imminent attack without prior congressional approval. U.S. combat operations in Iraq already exceed that narrow exception." They call on Congress to engage in a robust conversation about American intervention in Iraq. "Now, Congress and the president need to discharge their respective constitutional responsibilities. The president should immediately seek congressional authorization to continue military operations in Iraq, and Congress should reconvene to debate and vote.... We are rapidly approaching a decisive moment. The pros and cons of action can still be weighed, but the debate needs to happen now. The Constitution requires it, and the American people deserve it."

Frank Bruni in The New York Times on why President Obama's rhetoric is alarming. Bruni responds to the President's statement that the United States doesn't have a strategy in Iraq. "Not having a strategy, at least a fixed, definitive one, is understandable. The options aren’t great, the answers aren’t easy and the stakes are enormous. But announcing as much? It’s hard to see any percentage in that. It gives no comfort to Americans. It puts no fear in our enemies." Bruni joins others is saying that while Obama's words may be correct, they aren't Presidential. "In The Washington Post on Sunday, Karen DeYoung and Dan Balz observed that while Obama’s no-strategy remark 'may have had the virtue of candor,' it in no way projected 'an image of presidential resolve or decisiveness at a time of international turmoil.'... And no matter what Obama ultimately elects to do, such an image is vital." 

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