Five Best Tuesday Columns
Bret Stephens on Bowe Bergdahl in the Time of Obama, Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett on the risk of lady-named hurricanes, Joe Nocera on why guns, not mental illness, are the real problem, Eugene Robinson on the EPA’s controversial coal plant proposal, Dan Hodges on why no one really cares about FIFA corruption.
Bret Stephens at The Wall Street Journal on Bowe Bergdahl in the Time of Obama. “I spoke Monday with a highly decorated former Special Forces operator and asked what he thought about Bowe Bergdahl, the Army sergeant who was released over the weekend after five years of Taliban captivity in exchange for five hard cases out of Gitmo. The former operator suggested a firing squad might be appropriate. His view is widely shared in the community of warriors who risked—and, in at least six cases, lost—their lives searching for a soldier who wrote his parents that "the horror that is america is disgusting" before vanishing from his post in Afghanistan in 2009. But wait: We are not ‘in time of war.’ We are in Time of Obama,” Stephens writes. “In Time of Obama, dereliction of duty is heroism, releasing mass murderers with American blood on their hands is a good way to start a peace process, negotiating with terrorists is not negotiating with terrorists. In Time of Obama, the testimony of the Pakistani militants regarding Sgt. Bergdahl's health is at least as credible as anything Susan Rice has to say, on any subject, on any Sunday talk show.”
Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett at the Guardian on the risk of lady-named hurricanes. “In shocking news that should vindicate men's rights activists everywhere but surprise no one who has ever angered my mother in a supermarket, it has emerged that female hurricanes are deadlier than their male equivalents. But according to behavioural scientist Sharon Shavitt – a pleasing sitcom cockney name if ever I heard one – it appears that ‘gender biases apply not only to people, but also to things’,” Cosslett writes. “People were less likely to seek shelter from say, a hurricane Patricia or a hurricane Barbara than they might a hurricane Michael or hurricane Oberon. But I'd argue that we've had a taste of the macho now and cannot go back – the risk to public safety is too great. Instead, I propose naming future storms after WWE wrestlers ("hurricane Undertaker", "hurricane Ultimo Dragon" and "hurricane Randy Savage" would surely make you think twice about staying put), for they are truly the manliest of men among men."
Joe Nocera at The New York Times on why guns, not mental illness, are the real problem. “It is difficult to read stories about Elliot Rodger, the 22-year-old man who went on a murderous spree in Isla Vista, Calif., last month, without feeling some empathy for his parents. We know that his mother, alarmed by some of his misogynistic YouTube videos, made a call that resulted in the police visiting Rodger. And then, on Monday, in a remarkably detailed article in The New York Times, we learned the rest of it. How his parents’ concern about his mental health was like a ‘shadow that hung over this Los Angeles family nearly every day of Elliot’s life.’ But what his parents never did was the one thing that might have prevented him from buying a gun: have him committed to a psychiatric facility,” Nocera writes. “Should his parents have taken more steps to have him treated? Could they have? It is awfully hard to say, even in retrospect. Instead of focusing on making it harder for the mentally ill to get guns, maybe we should be making it harder to get guns, period. Something to consider before the next mass shooting.”
Eugene Robinson at The Washington Post on the EPA’s controversial coal plant proposal. “Even for people who don’t believe in it, climate change just got real. It’s about time. The Obama administration’s proposed new rule for existing power plants — reducing heat-trapping carbon emissions by up to 30 percent by 2030 — is ambitious enough to get anyone’s attention. No, this one measure will not halt or reverse human-induced warming of the atmosphere. But the rule is necessary in the context of seeking international consensus on solutions — and also significant in its own right,” Robinson writes. “The question that some skeptics like to pose — ‘Why should the United States take such a big step on its own?’ — is meaningless when you think about it. China is the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide. Emissions are rising sharply in India and other rapidly industrializing countries. Nothing the United States does unilaterally, or even in concert with Europe and Japan, can solve the problem. What we really need is a global solution.”
Dan Hodges at The Telegraph on allegations of corruption by Qatar and why FIFA is corrupt. “Sunday’s ‘revelation’ that Qatar bought the 2022 World Cup has stunned precisely no one. That’s not to denigrate the excellent work done by The Sunday Times, who painstakingly detailed the apparent network of slush funds, bribes, kickbacks and sweeteners that were allegedly used to secure the tournament for the diminutive Arab state. But when the globe’s premier footballing contest was awarded to a country that has never even managed to qualify for the finals, would require matches to kick off in 50-degree heat, and which has such regressive anti-homosexuality laws the FIFA president Sepp Blatter was forced to issue a public plea for gay fans to ‘refrain from any sexual activities for the duration of the games’, we all thought we knew why,” Hodges writes. “At the moment there is a mood of anger and (synthetic) incredulity. ‘How did FIFA think they could get away with this?’ I would like to pose a rather different question. Why on earth would FIFA think they couldn’t get away with it? But let’s be honest. We don’t care. Not really. All we care about is the football.”