• Nicholas Kristof on Pakistan and Times Square  "If we want Times Square to be safer from terrorists, we need to start by helping make Pakistan safer as well," declares the New York Times columnist. Examining Pakistan's paradoxical role as U.S. ally and terrorist hotbed, Kristof singles out Pakistan's public education system as the cause of the country's propensity to produce Islamic militants. "One answer, I think, is that Pakistan’s American-backed military leader of the 1970s and 1980s, Gen. Mohammad Zia ul-Haq, drove the country off course, seeking to use fundamentalism as a way to buttress the regime," determines Kristof. "Instead of investing in education and infrastructure, he invested in religious sanctimony." Kristof laments: "Medieval misogynist fundamentalists display greater faith in the power of education than Americans do."
  • Joe Klein on Arlen Specter's Choices  At Time, Klein offers a thoughtful portrait of Arlen Specter, the longtime Republican senator from Pennsylvania who switched to the Democratic Party in 2009. The winds have shifted since then, as Klein observes, and Specter faces a serious primary challenge from Joe Sestak; it doesn't help that Specter can't seem to stake out a coherent ideological position as a Democrat. After attending a recent lackluster Specter rally, Klein inverts Ronald Reagan's famous formulation to note that "Arlen Specter might have left the Republican Party, but the Republican Party hadn't left him."
  • Doug Glanville on Outspoken Athletes  In the last of his regular columns for The New York Times, Glanville, a former Phillies outfielder, reflects on the sea change in sports culture that's made it possible for athletes to speak freely about politics without fear of consequence. Glanville attributes the shift to the different attitudes we have about privacy in today's ultra-networked world. In baseball especially, he says, "they understand that everyone is an enterprise, and that collective enterprise can effect change in a micro-minute." Glanville predicts that this new atmosphere of openness "will go through challenges, most likely swerving left and right for a while, but if nothing else, you will know where everyone stands — and there is something refreshing about that."
  • E. J. Dionne on the Real Elena Kagan  The Washington Post columnist bemoans the vapid confirmation process for Supreme Court Justices but suggests Kagan "would be a fool" not to take advantage of it. To compensate, Dionne recounts a conversation he had with Kagan about her support of a lawsuit seeking to ban military recruiters from college campuses because of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Dionne was moved by Kagan's civil tone and her obvious respect for the military, and especially by the quality of their disagreement. "In the end, her argument made clear that we agreed on both of the core imperatives but weighed them differently," he recalls. "Her approach -- simultaneously careful and principled -- is what makes for thoughtful judging."
  • Michael Young on Obama's Middle East Missteps  "Washington’s listlessness actually increases the chances that it will enter into a war with Iran," writes the Daily Star columnist, who lambastes Obama's "lack of a coherent strategy" in the Middle East. Criticizing Obama's planned pullout of troops from first Iraq and then Afghanistan, Young forecasts a geopolitical climate increasingly favorable to Iran.
"Washington’s refusal to develop a strategic relationship with Iraq to hold back Iran, means the US will have to rely, instead, on the frail Gulf states to push back against the Islamic Republic. Not surprisingly, Iran sees very few serious obstacles coming from its Gulf Arab neighbors. And these would dissipate completely if Tehran were to acquire nuclear weapons. Iran has the added ability in places such as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Kuwait, but also in Yemen, of being able to mobilize members of disgruntled Shiite minorities.