Five Best Friday Columns

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Philip Stephens on Taking Advantage of the Royal Wedding  "It is not that long since Britannia ruled the waves. Now she must make the best of her occasional moments in the international limelight," writes Philip Stephens at the Financial Times, referring to the attention drawn by the royal wedding. The details of the royal family's life--such as Prince Charles's need for "a royal valet to apply the toothpaste to his brush," can be hard to hear for a country bracing itself for years of austerity. Yet, there is a sense of loyalty to the tradition of the monarchy--"the extravagances are those of the office rather than its holder," he suggests. Though Britain has fallen from its once-high international standing, its participation in Libya and the excitement surrounding the wedding have put it back on the stage, a new step in the country's "painful search for a post-imperial role." Argues Stephen:  "Britain's future lies in staying interested in the world. The monarchy's best hope is to remain interesting to the world."

Dale Carpenter on Gay Rights and the Legal Profession  The decision of a prestigious law firm to stop helping Congress uphold the Defense of Marriage Act, though controversial, is also a sign of the evolution of legal attitudes towards gay rights over the past 50 years, insists Dale Carpenter at The New York Times. "Gay-rights supporters have transformed the law and the legal profession, opening the doors of law firms, law schools and courts to people who were once casually and cruelly shut out because of their sexual orientation," he writes, detailing some of the ways first individual lawyers, then law schools, then law firms were transformed in terms of their attitude towards gays. The "troubling" question is whether the firm in question "quit because of outside economic pressure rather than principle."
Ted Koppel on Israel's Anxieties  Ted Koppel talks about Israeli fears as the U.S.'s "erratic" foreign policy decisions force allies and enemies to question where they stand. In today's Wall Street Journal, Koppel notes that "overshadowing all other concerns is the fear that Iran is poised to reap enormous benefits from the so-called Arab Spring." The words of an Israeli official to whom Koppel talked: "'Even without nukes, ... Iran picks up the pieces. With nukes, it takes the house.'" The current instability in the Middle East is nerve-racking for Israel, whose borders are ever-contentious and who's already lost long-standing allies in the current revolutions. Koppel suggests that "the only glimmer of good news for Israelis may be that, when it comes to reliable allies in the region, Washington's list also keeps getting shorter."
Ronald Brownstein on Obama's Base  National Journal's Ronald Brownstein notes that "Many of the groups that Obama needs to turn out most enthusiastically in 2012—particularly young people, African-Americans, and Latinos—are still suffering the most as the economy crawls back from the Great Recession." Though Obama's plan to reduce the deficit has potential for success, he will be foregoing efforts to create jobs that his core of voters needs. His support from the black community is stable, but young and Latino Democrats are wavering, and it may not be secure to bet on the fact that, as one official pointed out, "these are also the people who will be hurt most by the policies of our opponents."
Micah Zenko on What We Got Wrong in Libya  Foreign Policy's Micah Zenko points out that it was the Arab League that pushed the U.S. to take action in Libya, "but when the bombs actually started to fall on Libya -- as they invariably do when enforcing a no-fly zone -- the league hastily pulled back." NATO countries are doing all of the work, though no one seems fully committed. America's attempt to discourage violent government crackdowns against protesters in Libya and elsewhere in the region have not worked and Zenko argues that the decision to impose a no-fly zone was not made to save the most civilian lives but "rather because it required the least commitment." Thus, the assumptions under which we entered the conflict nearly all turned out to be faulty. The U.S., he suggests, needs to "work toward a negotiated end to the civil war, while starting to plan for the U.S. military assets, humanitarian assistance, and financial aid required to keep any peace."

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