This week saw huge developments in what are arguably the two biggest news stories of 2009: health care reform
and the war in Afghanistan
. President Obama accepted the Nobel Peace Prize
in a speech widely debated as articulating the Obama Doctrine
. The climate change conference
in Copenhagen continued warily
. And a landmark financial reform bill burst onto the stage
. With much to discuss, here are today's 5 best Sunday columns.
Scott Atran on Terrorism The anthropologist Atran writes
in the New York Times that we should look to Southeast Asia for how to
fight terrorism. "To defeat violent extremism in Afghanistan, less may
be more — just as it has been elsewhere in Asia," he writes.
Now we need to bring this perspective to Afghanistan and Pakistan — one
that is smart about cultures, customs and connections. The present
policy of focusing on troop strength and drones, and trying to win over
people by improving their lives with Western-style aid programs, only
continues a long history of foreign involvement and failure. Reading a
thousand years of Arab and Muslim history would show little in the way
of patterns that would have helped to predict 9/11, but our predicament
in Afghanistan rhymes with the past like a limerick.
Erick Erickson on Health Care Redstate's Erickson passionately argues
that Congressional Republicans must do more to block health care
reform. " If there is any bill that deserves being stopped by shutting
down the Senate, it is this one. There are a whole series of
parliamentary maneuvers that could be
used by Republican senators to stop this bill. There is a hard backstop
to the current process (Christmas). The Republicans’ goal should be to
prevent Reid from passing the bill before that time. If he goes past
Christmas and is forced to adjourn or recess, the momentum will shift
in favor of those opposing the bill."
Doyle McManus on the Obama Doctrine The L.A. Times's McManus thinks
it's about one thing. "The Obama administration's response boils down
to one word: patience," he writes. "At West Point, he explained why he
was escalating the war in
Afghanistan, but he called it a unique case and said the United States
didn't have the resources to use military force everywhere in the
world. At Oslo, he offered the rest of the world a bargain: The United
will engage diplomatically and act multilaterally, but it needs the
help of others to make it work."
- Frank Rich on 'Up In The Air' The New York Times's Rich insists it's the perfect film for our era. "Here is an America whose battered inhabitants realize that the economic
deck is stacked against them, gamed by distant, powerful figures they
can’t see or know. 'Up in the Air' may be a glossy production sprinkled
with laughter and sex, but it captures the distinctive topography of
our Great Recession as vividly as a far more dour Hollywood product of
70 years ago, 'The Grapes of Wrath,' did the vastly different landscape
of the Great Depression."
David Ignatius on His Friend The Spy The Washington Post's Ignatius eulogizes
the Jordian intelligence chief who was the basis of a character in
Ignatius's book. "[Saad] Kheir at his best was among the greatest Arab
intelligence officers of
his generation. He ran a series of masterful penetration operations
against Palestinian extremist groups and, later, al-Qaeda. "He set the
standard for how we do it," said one former CIA officer who worked
closely with him.
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