Simon Tisdall on Barack Obama's Libya Decision Barack Obama's perceived "inaction" on Libya has been well-documented as have the many potential reasons his reluctance to order U.S. military forces to intervene, Tisdall writes in The Guardian. "Only a sudden, bloody nose" will convince [Qaddafi] to desist," Tisdall says, and with luck that is precisely what he is about to get. At the same time, "the longer term impact of the intervention is immeasurable ... disaster is one possible outcome." Tisdall doesn't mince words with a warning: "If the fighting is prolonged, if Gaddafi does not quit and run, if his more able sons take up his cause, if the intervention makes things worse not better for ordinary people (as in Iraq), if there is no clear-cut win but ongoing low level conflict and resistance (as in Afghanistan), then Arab opinion will turn against the westerners once more. The post-9/11 nightmare of the Pentagon's long war without end will reproduce on the shores of the Mediterranean."
Con Coughlin on Why Bahrain Could Be Worse Than Libya Libya has certainly been the focus of UN attention recently, but the unrest in Bahrain may represent an "even graver threat to our future prosperity and security," says Coughlin in The Telegraph. He argues the connections between Bahrain's underrepresented Shia-majority and Iran are "problematic." The tension between Tehran and the Sunni government of Bahrain has a fair amount of historical precedence, and is "further complicated by Iran's long-standing insistence that it has a legitimate territorial claim over Bahrain." A conflict spinning out of control involving Bahrain, Bahraini allies in Saudi Arabia, and Iran could have significant consequences in the Middle East. As Libya undoubtedly stays in our focus, it's worth paying attention to this small Gulf nation.
Susan Freinkel on Giving Plastics a Second Chance Susan Freinkel speaks to anyone who has ever tried to improve their health and the planet by eradicating plastic from their lives at The New York Times, today. "Today, plastic is perceived as nature's nemesis," she writes. "But a generic distaste for plastic can muddy our thinking about the trade-offs involved when we replace plastic with other materials." Plastics, which were actually created to benefit the planet to avoid exhausting limited resources, are not as much a problem as how they are used--an overwhelming amount of plastics are single-use products and, "while some are indisputably valuable," many, like plastic bags, straws, etc., "are essentially prefab litter with environmental cost." Freinkel's point is that the goal of getting rid of plastics completely is unrealistic. "In a world of nearly seven billion souls and counting, we are not going to feed, clothe and house ourselves solely from wood, ore and stone; we need plastics." We just need to use them wisely and stop wasting. "The boar's-hair toothbrush is not our only alternative."
Deroy Murdock on Political Threats in Wisconsin Writing in The National Review Online, Murdock includes a handful of the vitriolic and often profane threats state lawmakers have received in Wisconsin, many threatening violence. "We will hunt you down. We will slit your throats. We will drink your blood. I will have your decapitated head on a pike in the Madison town square. This is your last warning," he quotes an email to Wisconsin state senator Dan Kapanke (R., La Crosse) after he voted for Governor Scott Walker's controversial budget. Murdock runs down a laundry list of these threats; emails, phone calls, outraged tweets. The hostility and anger represented by these missives is striking--even without a physical follow-through. Murdock thinks though conservatives' hands may not be "spotless ... they seem far less potentially bloody." Quickly crying "shame!" on an example of conservatives "rough[ing] up" Democratic activists, he asks: "Now, where is the condemnation againt the anti-Walker Left for its criminal behavior?" Murdock may or may not have the balance of violent rhetoric and action quite right--he calls "death threats ... a virtually exclusive tool of the pro-union left" in Wisconsin--and his suggestion that "free-marketeers ... simply are better people" is debatable. It's hard to argue, though, with his underlying point: death threats should be condemned, no matter which side they come from.