5 Best Sunday Columns

Sharp insights on the Times Square attack, anti-immigration sentiment in the South, and more

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Columnists are exploring the week's two big stories in their Sunday musings: The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the failed car bomb in Times Square. The international market fluctuations as Greece's economy wavers are also on pundits' minds. Here's the best of the Sunday offerings.

  • Rise of Pakistan-Based Terror  Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria explains why so much recent terrorism seems connected to terrorism.:
The British government has estimated that 70 percent of the terror plots it has uncovered in the past decade can be traced back to Pakistan. Pakistan remains a terrorist hothouse even as jihadism is losing favor elsewhere in the Muslim world. From Egypt to Jordan to Malaysia to Indonesia, radical Islamic groups have been weakened militarily and have lost much of the support they had politically. Why not in Pakistan? The answer is simple: from its founding, the Pakistani government has supported and encouraged jihadi groups, creating an atmosphere that has allowed them to flourish. It appears to have partially reversed course in recent years, but the rot is deep.
Some experts are already worried that dispersants used to degrade the spill may prove to be more toxic to sea life than the oil itself. ... conservationists are extremely wary of the use of chemical dispersant. "The oil is toxic, and when you combine the chemical dispersant, the combined toxicity is actually greater than either one in isolation. You're pushing this stuff down into the water and exposing the ecosystem to even more pollution," says Richard Steiner, a retired University of Alaska marine conservation professor who is monitoring the spill's effects in Louisiana. Much of the fish and shrimp spawning in the sea, Steiner predicts, will be affected. "You will have acute mortality of marine organisms beneath the sea surface" — with severe repercussions on the food cycle in the gulf.
  • The Greek Markets Lesson  The Weekly Standard's Irwin Stelzer declares, "We are all Greeks now. Or so it would seem if we are guided by the gyrations of share prices."
Pity that this new nervousness about Europe, to which we can add concern that the Chinese regime is engineering an economic slowdown to head off the bursting of a credit bubble, is taking some of the shine off the recovery now clearly underway in the U.S. The jobs situation has turned around. ... The feeling around Wall Street is that the European Central Bank is being too slow to follow the UK and the U.S. policy of quantitative easing, that the eurocracy is unable to respond quickly to a crisis, and that therefore the danger of contagion, as it is called, is very real, with even the U.S.’s stronger economy at risk of infection. My own view is that we are having a crisis of confidence, which will ease as the reality of the recovery trumps the fear of Greeks bearing dicey IOUs.
  • U.S. Must Prepare for Successful Attack  Clinton-era counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke writes in the Washington Post, "The unfortunate fact is that such cases represent a kind of terrorism that is virtually impossible to disrupt. These attempts will continue, and from time to time one of them will succeed, with many dead and injured. The more relevant question, therefore, is: How will we respond when that car bomb does go off? ... If they succeed in inflicting harm on us with terrorist acts designed to rivet media and public attention, our political debate may once again be as wrongheaded as it will be predictable."
  • Why Deep South Loves Arizona's Law  FiveThiryEight's Ed Kilgore explores why, in the wake of Arizona's immigration law, "some of the most impressive and immediate repercussions have been in the Deep South, where conservatives are stampeding to express solidarity with the Arizona governor and legislature, and, in one case, to revive the English-Only chesnut."
I’d suggest there are four inter-related factors: (1) newly visible and culturally threatening Hispanic populations, that (2) aren’t large or engaged enough to represent a significant voting presence; (3) red-hot Republican primaries; and (4) the difficulty of finding ways for Republican candidates to distinguish themselves in an atmosphere of monolithic conservatism on most issues.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.