Daniel Henninger on 'If Saddam Had Stayed' The Wall Street Journal columnist looks back from the president's recent Iraq speech to one he made in 2002, then a state senator, in which he called the potential conflict a "dumb war." Back then, Obama argued that Saddam Hussein was a bloody dictator, but one that could be contained and did not pose an immediate threat to the U.S. Henninger then asks: what would the world look like if Obama's "'smarter' view had prevailed?" In answer, he paints a dark scenario in which Saddam moved to join Iran and North Korea in developing nuclear weapons, thereby "incentivizing Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Sudan" to pursue them as well. By deposing Saddam, Henninger writes, the U.S. took out at least one of the "nuclear-obsessed madmen off the table and gave the world more margin to deal with the threat that remains."
The Boston Globe on the Need to Set New Rules for GPS Searches While the Fourth Amendment protects citizens from warrantless searches where there is a "a legitimate expectation of privacy" (i.e. the home), it does very little to stop the government from using 24/7 surveillance technology to monitor suspects constantly, concludes the Boston Globe editorial board. It's time for the Fourth Amendment to be reconfigured in order to safeguard against these new threats to privacy, the latest of which has been highlighted in the case of Juan Pineda-Moreno. The citizen, who was suspected of marijuana trafficking, had a GPS tracking device attached to his Jeep by federal agents who sneaked onto his property. While several states have already acted to curb the use of GPS, it's time, say the editors, for Congress or the Supreme Court to "impose reasonable guidelines" on the uses of such technology.
Nicholas Kristof on Reforming Industrial Agriculture The latest outbreak of salmonella in eggs reminded The New York Times writer of spending time during his youth tending a chicken flock on his family's farm. While the free-range chickens at the small farm are in no way a model for the future of agriculture, they do underscore the problems with having cages of tightly bunched birds that inevitably encourage disease. While industrial agriculture specializes in providing cheap poultry to supermarkets, it passes along the cost in public health risks. "Food safety has received very little attention since Upton Sinclair," notes Ellen Silbergeld, an environmental health expert whom Kristof interviewed. Increased awareness of the dangers of industrial food should be cause for a real "wake-up" call to reform the current system. And a good start, contends Kristof, would be cage-free eggs.
David Ignatius on Iraqi Opinion on Troop Withdrawal Writing from Baghdad, the Washington Post columnist recounts conversations with prominent Iraqi politicians about what the future of their country looks like as American involvement starts to scale back. The outlook, according to the people Ignatius interviews, is grim. Former prime minister Ayad Allawi claims the country is "not moving ahead." Kassim Daoud, a Shiite politician from Nasiriyah, says "the Iraqi people gave everything for the democratic system, but so far, they have not tasted the fruits." Then there's the unnamed Shiite political leader who refused to support Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki last month. "This Shiite leader," writes Ignatius, "wanted a strong Iraqi government and a competent leader--without dictation from America, Iran or anyone else."
Timothy Egan on His Summer Home The New York Times columnist recalls his childhood visits to Glacier National Park, while wondering if people truly understand the scope of America's public land endowment. "In the aggregate," Egan writes, "this is what every citizen owns: 530 million acres, of which 193 million are run by the Forest Service, 253 million by the Bureau of Land Management and 84 million by the National Park Service." Public lands provide Egan with a "summer home--which I share with 310 million fellow Americans." It's set against a backdrop "so vast that a dozen lifetimes would not present enough years to sample its variety." It's a place called America.