Five Best Wednesday Columns

F. Gregory Gause explains why Saudis fear the Iran deal, Adrian Chen on bitcoin, Emma Green on the Vatican's anti-capitalism, Leonid Bershidsky on Putin's tardiness, and Katy Waldman on the Thanksgiving dinner date debate. 

This article is from the archive of our partner .

F. Gregory Gause at The New Yorker explains why Saudi Arabia fears the Iran deal. "The Saudis have no allies in American politics to rally against the Obama Administration, and no desire to set themselves against the other international powers who signed the agreement, ... But they are as unhappy as the Israelis, if for slightly different reasons," writes Gause, a political science professor at the University of Vermont and a senior fellow at the Brookings Doha Center. The Saudis worry that "geopolitical trends in the Middle East are aligning against them, threatening both their regional stature and their domestic security." While the Obama Administration "sees an Iranian commitment to foreswear nuclear weapons as a benefit to allies like Saudi Arabia," the Saudis, "without a seat at the negotiating table, fear that Washington will ratify Iranian hegemony in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and the Persian Gulf in exchange for a nuclear deal." Middle East scholar Andrew Exum tweets, "Really solid analysis from Greg Gause, as one would expect."

Adrian Chen at The New York Times on the currency bitcoin. "I know one bitcoin cost around $9 when I first stumbled on it in the summer of 2011. That was before I single-handedly sent the price of bitcoin soaring," Chen, a former Gawker writer, explains. "I wasn’t trying to manipulate an underground economy. I was just doing my job ... when I broke the story of the online underground illegal drug market Silk Road, on which bitcoin was the only accepted currency because of its relative anonymity." Now, "boosters say that bitcoin is the currency of the future. I’d argue that the phenomenon is a digital gold rush perfectly emblematic of the present," Chen writes. While the rise in bitcoin value has made some people wealthier, Chen insists, "the crash is going to be great. Bitcoin is too dependent on speculative mania to be of practical use as a currency." Mashable editor Megan Hess tweets, "the bitcoin craze suggests that getting rich is as easy as being an early adopter." Jared Keller, the social media editor at Al Jazeera America, notes who Chen replaces: "Adrian Chen is a freelance journalist ... Thomas L. Friedman is off today."

Emma Green at The Atlantic on the Vatican's anti-capitalism. "The pope has taken a firm political stance against right-leaning, pro-free market economic policies, and his condemnation appears to be largely pointed at Europe and the United States," Green writes. He explicitly references “trickle-down” economic policies. "Taken in the context of the last half-century of Roman Catholicism, this is a radical move," Green explains. "Fifty years ago, around the time of the Second Vatican Council, Church leaders quietly declared a very different economic enemy: communism." The Guardian's U.S. finance and economics editor Heidi N. Moore tweets, "Good piece."

Leonid Bershidsky at Bloomberg View on Putin's tardiness. "Being 50 minutes late for his first meeting with Pope Francis was nothing unusual for Russian President Vladimir Putin. That's just the way he is — a character trait that provides some insight into his attitude toward power," Bershidsky writes. "The waits other leaders have had to endure in order to see Putin range from 14 minutes for the Queen of England to three hours for Yulia Tymoshenko, the former Ukrainian prime minister." And Putin has had this tendency his whole life — he was often late to school and to dates with his now ex-wife. But "no one wants to lash Putin for disrespecting rules," Bershidsky argues. Emma Hogan, the Britain correspondent at The Economist, tweets, "Perhaps the most surprising nugget in this is that Putin does not use the Internet."

Katy Waldman at Slate on the Thanksgiving dinner date debate. "NBC reports on the breaking news that some high schoolers are bringing dates to Thanksgiving dinner," Waldman explains. "So on this day that we give thanks for our blessings, some offspring are testing the limits of the airless dungeon that is their family by asking that guy from chemistry to swing by?" she asks. "High-schoolers need to suck it up and spend Thanksgiving with ... family." Mashable executive editor Jim Roberts tweets, "Let the debate begin."

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