Ross Douthat on 'Liberal Interventionsim' It originally seemed like Barack Obama had wanted to keep the United States completely out of Libya, says Douthat in The New York Times. Now, though, it's clear that Obama wanted to do it as long as it was the "most multilateral, least cowboyish fashion imaginable." While it's important for us to share the burden of global security with other world powers like France and Britain, Douthat acknowledges, the moralizing, half-cocked posture towards military intervention--liberal warfare, to Douthat-- is at best an impediment to swift and decisive action. In Libya, the delay allowed Qaddafi to consolidate his control over the country. "The ultimate hope of liberal warfare is to fight as virtuously as possible, and with the minimum of risk," Douthat says. "But war and moralism are uneasy bedfellows, and 'low risk' conflicts often turn out to be anything but."
Roger Noriega on Venezuela's Threat to the West Roger Noriega worries that Iranian and Venezuelan relations may prove dangerous for the United States. At The Washington Post today, the visiting American Enterprise Institute fellow points to a meeting between Hugo Chavez and "senior leaders of Hamas, Hezbollah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in a secret summit" in Caracas last August. "That these infamous criminals left their traditional havens demonstrates their confidence in Chavez and their determination to cultivate a terror network on America’s doorstep," he says. Noriega also points out that the meetings were orchestrated by "Chavez's No. 2 diplomat in Syria--a naturalized Venezuelan of Lebanese origin who runs Hezbollah's growing network in South America--which includes terror operatives and drug traffickers." The author argues that the United States should be aware that several "globe-trotting terrorists" are operating out of South America and that "the U.S. could act today to degrade Chavez's ability to support terrorism and Tehran. The question is whether they will respond swiftly and effectively enough to prevent a deadly attack."
David Lazarus on the AT&T/T-Mobile Merger A quick refresher on the history telecommunications in the United States: remember how in 1984 the Bell telephone system was broken up, in order to encourage a more open market? Do you recall then that in 1996, the telecommunications market in the U.S. was effectively deregulated--again in the name of the free market? Los Angeles Times columnist David Lazarus notes that as consumers are faced with higher prices and less options in an increasingly consolidated market, consumers may begin to feel had, and Congress needs to act. "We are a big step closer to a marketplace controlled by only two companies, AT&T and Verizon," he says. "Ma Bell is back. Federal regulators should waste no time in welcoming her home with new rules that address the shortcomings of our failed experiment in deregulation."
James Surowiecki on the Economics of Disaster Recovery The earthquake and ensuing tsunami in Japan will probably be one of the costliest natural disasters in the history of the world--and the physical destruction and loss of human lives is undeniably a tragedy. But while many have argued that the disaster could be a nearly fatal blow to Japan's economy, Surowiecki argues that disasters may actually prove a country's productive meddle and resiliency: "the quintessential example comes from Japan itself: in 1995, an earthquake levelled the port city of Kobe, which at the time was a manufacturing hub and the world’s sixth-largest trading port. ... There were predictions that it would take years, if not decades, for Japan to recover. Yet twelve months after the disaster trade at the port had already returned almost to normal," he says. Citing the current situation Haiti, he notes that,by contrast, disasters for poor and developing countries are often "doubly dangerous"--in addition to the natural destruction inflicted, damage to already weak infrastructures makes it difficult to rebound and repair. "Modern economies," however, "are good at recovering from disasters," Surowiecki says. "But it’s a tragedy that they’re getting so much practice."
Matthew Klein on Unemployed American Youth In the face of the Arab region's revolutionary uprising started by the educated and unemployed youth of those countries, Matthew Klein draws attention to another country with filled with a frustrated generation of educated, out-of-work young people: the United States. The 24-year-old Council on Foreign Relations research associate explains the plight of his generation, which differs little, he argues, from that of his contemporaries in the Middle East and Southern Europe. "My generation was taught that all we needed to succeed was an education and hard work," he writes. "Tell that to my friend from high school who studied Chinese and international relations at a top-tier college. He had the misfortune to graduate in the class of 2009, and could find paid work only as a lifeguard and a personal trainer." Klein points out that unemployment not only has financial impacts, but emotional ones as well. "The millions of young people who cannot get jobs or who take work that does not require a college education are in danger of losing their faith in the future." He admits that an "Egyptian-style revolution" is not likely in the developed world, but argues that its only a matter of time before the unemployed youth of "the rich world" stand up in their own protest.