• Roger Cohen on Kissinger and World Cup Time  "Henry Kissinger called me, which does not happen often, but does happen on the eve of World Cups," says the New York Times columnist in a piece today about the World Cup in relation to US diplomacy and world power. He says, "The fact is the game is written in the blood of only a few nations, who have stamped their genius on it, and then there are the also-rans." Continuing his parallel of the game with world politics, he adds, "The winner, in order of likelihood, will come from: Spain, Brazil, the Netherlands, Argentina, Italy, Germany. Possible surprise? Ghana. And if America does well, President Obama will benefit. As Kissinger knows, U.S. indifference to soccer has long been a source of intense global suspicion."
  • Joseph I. Lieberman on the Enemy in the War on Terror  In a Wall Street Journal op-ed today, the Senator from Connecticut examines the semantics of who exactly the US is fighting in the war on terror. Outlining the ways in which the Obama administration has not correctly defined our enemy, he says, "characterizing this war as being against a specific organization risks distracting our government from important policy questions about how to combat the ideological dimensions of the war that is taking place within Islam." He adds, "We must recognize the nature of the fight we are in, not paper it over. The United States is definitely not at war with Islam. But a group of self-identified, extremist Muslims has definitely declared war on us, a war which they explicitly justify by reference to their religion. Muslims across the world see the ideological nature of this struggle. I believe it is disrespectful to suggest they cannot understand these distinctions and act on them."
  • Joanna Weiss on Teenage Record-Breakers  In The Boston Globe, Weiss tears a strip off the Sunderland family, whose 16-year-old daughter Abby recently survived a perilous ocean crossing in an attempt to break a world record. "This is the definition of bravery now?" Weiss writes. "Embarking on unnecessary risk that jeopardizes the lives of rescue workers?" Weiss goes on to indict parents who can't "invoke maturity where your child lacks it," and a culture that "treats accomplishment as a race and turns risk into its own reward." Abby Sunderland may be "a skilled junior sailor, calm in the face of danger," writes Weiss, but "that doesn’t make her a hero. It just makes her very, very lucky."
  • Anne Applebaum on Obama's Katrina The Washington Post columnist takes on the favorite comparison among conservatives tying Obama's treatment of the oil spill to Bush's response to Hurricane Katrina. "Other than proximity to the Louisiana coast, this catastrophe has nothing in common with Hurricane Katrina," argues Applebaum. "That was an unstoppable natural disaster that turned into a human tragedy because of an inadequate government response. This is just an unstoppable disaster, period. It will be a human tragedy precisely because no government response is possible." However, Applebaum marvels at a mystery that may erode the Obama's public image just as poorly as Bush's: "given that he cannot stop the oil from flowing, why has President Obama decided to act as if he can?"
  • Bernard Keenan on Refugee Reform  In an elegantly argued column for The Guardian, Keenan calls for a moral re-appraisal of Europe's 1951 refugee convention, which doesn't provide the protection it's meant to for displaced people--at least not the way countries have been practicing it in recent years. "Human rights are of greatest importance to those who have been stripped of everything except their bare humanity, and yet still the most vulnerable are the most ignored," Keenan writes. "We must remain open to that truth."