5 Best Sunday Columns

Obama diplomacy, "America's new culture war," and Miss USA's real roots

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NYT's Peter Baker on Obama's Foreign Policy

President Obama previewed a new national security strategy rooted in diplomatic engagement and international alliances on Saturday as he essentially repudiated his predecessor’s emphasis on unilateral American power and the right to wage pre-emptive war. ... The speech offered a glimpse of his first official national security strategy, to be released this week, including four principles: to build strength abroad by building strength at home through education, clean energy and innovation; to promote “the renewed engagement of our diplomats” and support international development; to rebuild alliances; and to promote human rights and democracy abroad.

Washington Post's Arthur Brooks on 'America's New Culture War'

This is not the culture war of the 1990s. It is not a fight over guns, gays or abortion. Those old battles have been eclipsed by a new struggle between two competing visions of the country's future. In one, America will continue to be an exceptional nation organized around the principles of free enterprise -- limited government, a reliance on entrepreneurship and rewards determined by market forces. In the other, America will move toward European-style statism grounded in expanding bureaucracies, a managed economy and large-scale income redistribution. These visions are not reconcilable. We must choose.

NYT's Frank Rich on The Coming GOP Split

That Paul gave his victory speech in a “members only” country club is no contradiction to white Tea Partiers. Their anger is directed at a loftier club that excludes them as well: the big-government and big-money elites partying together in that high-rise penthouse. At the Utah state G.O.P. convention this month, the mob shouted “TARP! TARP! TARP!” as it terminated the re-election bid of the conservative Senator Robert Bennett. It was Bennett’s capital crime to vote for a bailout of Wall Street’s high-flying bankers. ...

It’s far-fetched to Democrats that Tea Party populists could possibly believe that the party of McConnell and Romney and Murdoch will in the end be moved to side with the little guy against the penthouse powers that are the G.O.P.’s traditional constituency and financial underwriter. Some Democrats also find it far-fetched that Paul could repeat his victory this fall, given how extreme his views are even for a state as reliably red as Kentucky.

Foreign Policy's Hanin Ghaddar on Miss USA's 'Not-So-Radical Roots'

The recent uproar among some conservative American bloggers over Rima Fakih, the Lebanese-American woman who was crowned Miss USA on Sunday, has been unique: Not many people -- let along beauty pageant winners -- have been accused of being both a pole dancer and a Hezbollah operative.

...Fakih's extended family is not exactly the Islamist terrorist cell of the right-wing pundits' imaginations: For one thing, their house is distinguished from the neighbors' by a big U.S. flag hung from its balcony, surrounded by ribbons and flowers. In the entrance, a Quran and a Bible are placed next to each other on a stand; "There are many mixed marriages in the family, so you cannot really call us a Muslim family," Fakih's 62-year-old aunt, Afifa Fakih -- the only woman in the household wearing a veil -- explained. "We love America," she added. "Without the USA, Rima wouldn't have fulfilled her dreams. She made us all proud, and for that, we thank the Americans."

Time's Zoe Alsop on Ethiopia's Coming Election

Ethiopia is quiet as it heads into Sunday's parliamentary elections — and that is part of the problem. The somberness of the capital Addis Ababa is in stark contrast to the massive demonstrations led by the opposition that took place before the vote in 2005. Though the opposition won an unprecedented number of seats that year, many international observers judged the electoral exercise as flawed. When opposition supporters took to the streets to protest results the government reacted by having security forces open fire — more than 200 people died. Tens of thousands were detained. The legacy of that repression continues. When the editor-in-chief of the weekly newspaper Arwamba decided to remark upon the quiet in this campaign season, he says he was directly warned by the government that it was watching him and his paper closely. Woubishet Taye, 32, chose to resign instead. He had simply entitled his essay, "Where did the people go?"

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