Kate Masur on Our Nation's Unrepresented Capital Masur, an assistant history professor at Northwestern, details Washington D.C,'s history as "an undemocratic anomaly," arguing in The New York Times that "its second-class citizenship is a legacy of racial injustice and, more recently, partisanship in Congress." Masur explains that the federal district under Congress's executive legislation was created "to preserve the capital's independence from politics in the states" and as the city's population developed an African American majority, federal instead of local government maintained power over the city. She argues that the chances of D.C. residents ever being represented in Congress are slim, as the rest of the country is unaware or indifferent to the capital's voting rights, Republicans in Congress would have to "place a moral imperative ahead of partisan interests" (D.C residents are mostly Democrats), and "many Americans still have a hard time seeing African-Americans as citizens entitled to the rights that so many white people take for granted."
Michael Gerson on China's African Aid Efforts Reporting from Malawi, The Washington Post's Michael Gerson observes the material influence Chinese aid has had on "this poor, rural, landlocked nation." He notes that China is motivated by a desire for power over the continent and that its aid comes with a policy of "mutual noninterference in domestic affairs" meaning that "African governments have a rich friend with low standards." Gerson argues that America should not, with its foreign aid-beggaring budget cuts, allow China to entice Africa with superficial concessions such as soccer stadiums and brand new hotels. While the U.S. "has its own checkered history of resource-seeking behavior," Gerson admits, "at least America tries to nudge African nations in the right direction."
Michael Oren on Keeping Iran From Further Nuclear Developments Michael Oren, the Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., questions whether a possession of nuclear power would have protected Moammar Qaddafi from intervention by America and its allies. Oren notes in The Wall Street Journal that Libya and other Middle Eastern nations relinquished their nuclear weapons after seeing how the US dealt with Saddam Hussein. Iran was one of those countries, but reinstated its nuclear program once it no longer felt threatened by the US. Oren argues that the US should act immediately to intercept what progress Iran's nuclear program has already made, before it is too late. "The Iranian regime is the pre- eminent sponsor of terror in the world, a danger to pro-Western states, and the enemy of its own people who strive for democracy," he writes. "It poses all of these hazards without nuclear weapons. Imagine the catastrophes it could inflict with them."
Michael Kinsley on Not Ignoring Congress's Right to Declare War At The Los Angeles Times today, Michael Kinsley points out that, in his decision to intervene in Libya, President Obama, like other presidents before him, has ignored the Constitution's words giving Congress the power to declare war. In addition to the fact that it's unconstitutional, Kinsley personally can't understand why a President would even want to carry the full weight of a war on his shoulders, or why he would want to exempt Congress from sharing the responsibility. "It's the Constitution that anoints the president as commander in chief," acknowledges Kinsley. "But the notion that this gives him unilateral authority to take this country into war--while, by contrast, the congressional power to declare war places no limits on the president's authority to do the same--puts you in Humpty Dumpty territory, where a word 'means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.' A commander at any level doesn't get to choose the enemy."
Ronen Avraham on Medical Malpractice Reform Ronen Avraham, a University of Texas Law School professor, offers a solution to the problems with Obama's proposed approach to medical malpractice reform in today's New York Times. While Obama's effort to grant doctors immunity from malpractice suits benefits both doctors and patients, Avraham points out that the guidelines doctors must follow to achieve that immunity comes from nonprofit medical groups and for-profit insurance companies, whose competing interests result in conflicting guidelines and advice at no cost to them. "The government should require health care providers to buy or license guidelines from what I call private regulators, for-profit companies with expertise in evidence-based medicine," Avraham suggests. "Doctors would have immunity from malpractice cases if they followed the guidelines. However, the private regulators themselves would be liable if their guidelines were found to deviate from optimal care."