Five Best Wednesday Columns

Jeffrey Goldberg says the new Syria plan won't work, Fred Kaplan thinks Obama's speech helped his cause, John Cassidy backs Bill de Blasio's "progressive experiment," Rachel Kleinfeld wants action in Syria, and Jimmy Carter does not. 

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Jeffrey Goldberg at Bloomberg says the new Syria plan won't work either. Calling Secretary of State John Kerry "slap-happy," Goldberg argues that Syria's offer to give up its chemical weapons to the international community is a "fake solution to a real problem." By cooperating with Russia and Syria, the U.S. will allow Assad to stay in power and kill more civilians, Goldberg writes. "[Assad] may be Hitler, as administration officials and their surrogates keep suggesting, but a Hitler we're content to see remain in power." Steve Inskeep at NPR Morning Edition summarizes thusly: "@JeffreyGoldberg hits awkward prospect of Syria deal: years of inspections, Assad still in power." Betsy Fischer Martin at NBC News points out one of the more damning lines in the piece: "@JeffreyGoldberg crowns Putin 'the State Department's new Syria desk officer.'"

Fred Kaplan at Slate thinks President Obama's speech helped his cause. Kaplan has a different take on Russia's diplomacy offer, arguing that it's a "win-win" for the President: "If Russia backs away from a real deal, after exciting so many players to its possibilities, Obama could emerge with his air strikes gaining greater support—at home and abroad." Kaplan still has questions about both diplomatic and military options in Syria, but says Obama's speech impresses, "your move, Putin." Emily Houser, an Open Zion blogger at The Daily Beast, writes that Kaplan's piece is a "handy summary" of yesterday's events, and Ivo Daalder, who was Obama's ambassador to NATO, agrees that Putin "is wriggling in a trap of his own making."

John Cassidy at The New Yorker explains why he voted for Bill de Blasio. Cassidy is impressed that de Blasio's shown "a willingness to test boundaries" and rule from the left. Cassidy recognizes that electing de Blasio would be a "progressive experiment based on optimism" but "New Yorkers, after years of watching their city being transformed by aggressive policing, changes in migration patterns, and corporate-friendly development policies, can afford to push back a bit." Joe Coscarelli at New York cosigned this approach, tweeting "team yes we 'can afford to push back a bit.'" And Scott Bixby, social media editor for Bloomberg News and Businessweekagreed with Cassidy that de Blasio isn't asking that much of wealthy New Yorkers with his tax plan: "For those raking in a million dollars annually, the extra cost of de Blasio's tax plan would be about $40 a week."

Rachel Kleinfeld at the New York Daily News thinks the U.S. has a "moral duty" to act in Syria. "Intervene . . . and do it smartly," she writes. Kleinfeld, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, identifies the frustration many have expressed in regards to the war-torn country: "'Do something' is not a strategy." She wants a comprehensive action plan that involves force and the corralling of chemical weapons. Mike Lyons, a military analyst for CBS Radio, is skeptical, questioning whether Kleinfeld wants to put "boots near the ground."

Jimmy Carter in The Washington Post asks Obama not to use force in Syria. Instead of airstrikes, the former President advocates working with Russia to disarm Syria of its chemical weapons. "The main goals of condemning the use of these outlawed weapons and preventing their further use can still be realized by concerted international action," he writes. He says it is too hard to tell what would happen if the U.S. launched an attack against Syria. Carter may not have much influence among pols anymore, but actor John Cusack co-signed Carter's argument on Twitter, writing "you bomb [Syria,] more will hate us."

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