Fareed Zakaria on How America Is Safer Now "Are we safer than we were on 9/11?," the Washington Post columnist asks rhetorically. His unequivocal answer : "Of course we are." Not only did the Bush administration make some tactically "smart" and "successful" moves to destroy terrorist camps, blocking funding and depleting al-Qaeda's fighting reserves, but recent attacks by al-Qaeda affiliates on civilians have also caused the appeal of militant Islam to plunge. Obviously, "we are not 100 percent safe, nor will we ever be," but that isn't the most important question any more. Now the question is: "Have we gone too far? Is the vast expansion in governmental powers and bureaucracies--layered on top of the already enormous military-industrial complex of the Cold War--warranted?"
Paul Krugman on China's 'Artificial' Currency Policy The New York Times columnist asserts a "stark" reality: China is keeping its currency "artificially weak" in order to feed a huge trade surplus, which deprives other nations of "much-needed sales and jobs." U.S. officials need to understand, as the Japanese do, that Chinese purchases of treasury bonds don't help, they hurt. While American officials have tried to "reason with" China and argue that a stronger currency would be in the nation's own interest, these efforts have largely been rebuffed. He concludes: "Clearly, nothing will happen until or unless the United States shows that it’s willing to do what it normally does when another country subsidizes its exports: impose a temporary tariff that offsets the subsidy. So why has such action never been on the table?"
Stephen Wall on Pope Benedict's Irrelevance As the Pope makes his way to Britain this week, the Financial Times contributor notes that the words and gestures of the papacy are becoming increasingly irrelevant to the modern world. This did not have to be so. After Pope John Paul's death in 2005, the Catholic Church had a critical decision to make: choose a successor who would appeal to non-Catholics, or satisfy the core believers by choosing a conservative steward. They made a "huge mistake," declares Wall, by choosing Cardinal Ratzinger: "He has also proved to be uncharismatic, accident-prone, unable to grasp the extent of the Church’s lost credibility." To have any hope of reaching non-Catholics, the church needs to "accept that it does not have a monopoly on truth, that individuals have their own values, that a changing moral code is a normal part of social evolution." This is not likely to occur, says Wall.
Robert Mazur on Following the Dirty Money Writing in The New York Times, the former federal agent proposes assigning one law enforcement agency to track the finances of large-scale criminal networks and terrorist organizations. Working with the Fed and central banks of foreign countries, the empowered agency (be it an extension of the Treasury, F.B.I., or Homeland Security) could discern a "pattern of activity that would point to dirty bankers and businessmen." Without such autonomy, Mazur argues it is difficult to hand out anything more than "wrist slaps" to those financial institutions that facilitate criminal activity.
Ibn Warraq on the Extremism of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf There's reason to be wary of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the man behind the Cordoba House Islamic center, contends The National Review's Ibn Warraq. Warraq advises pundits who praise Rauf's "moderateness" to take a second look at his record. While Rauf "indulges in ecumenical blather in front of Western audiences," Warraq believes the imam "reveals his true intentions and philosophy in Muslim newspapers, magazines, and websites." These "true intentions" include supporting sharia law, Iran's current leadership, and Hamas. Fundamentally, Warraq believes, it is inadvisable to cite the imam as a moderate voice in the discussion about Islam's place in the United States.