Roger Cohen on Royal Wedding Fascination The New York Times' Roger Cohen understands, as he succumbs to Royal wedding intrigue, that "the genius of Britain is continuity." That continuity is seen in the Queen Elizabeth, who has met "every prime minister since Churchill" and in the fanfare is embraced by the British, though Kate Middleton is less of a Cinderella than a "poised and manicured Upper East Side girl". Writes Cohen: "At a time when Brits are learning to live without public libraries (not to mention jobs) as a result of budget cuts, they are enthused by this lavish ceremony that will see the daughter of millionaires (a commoner in local parlance) wed to the helicopter pilot who will one day head the sprawling enterprise royals call the Firm." Americans--"whose self-defining myths include the myth of classlessness"--are equally fascinated by "the spectacle of class at work."
Michael Chertoff and Michael Hayden on a Post-Qaddafi Libya Michael Chertoff and Michael Hayden argue that Obama's goal of ousting Qaddafi from Libya without using more time or force than we already have may be unrealistic and "reflects a fundamental misunderstanding that may have serious implications for the way ahead." Contrary to the President's assertion, "regime change in Iraq did not take eight years. It was accomplished in a matter of weeks. What consumed eight years was the aftermath of regime change," the write,.t "Failing to recognize that the hardest part is post-regime change raises the question of whether we have planned for what NATO and others will do if we in fact succeed in our policy objective of showing Gaddafi the door." Qaddafi and his force's resistence thus far hints at the difficulties likely to be encountered after he's been removed--and something, Chertoff and Hayden say, we need to start planning for.
Ronald Brownstein on the Budget Debate National Journal's Ronald Brownstein predicts government size will be a major issue in the upcoming presidential election. Paul Ryan's budget proposal, though Brownstein doesn't believe it will be made law, is the catalyst for this imminent discussion. Ryan aims to reduce Federal spending to levels not seen since 1951, "before not only Medicare and Medicaid but even the interstate-highway system existed." Brownstein argues that the best bet is neither Ryan's nor Obama's plan--which still requires significant spending--but to let all Bush tax cuts expire. "Doing so would return tax rates to their level under President Clinton--when the economy created more than 22 million jobs (compared with 1 million under Bush)," he writes. "As long as that option remains a political orphan, an otherwise illuminating fiscal debate will remain incomplete, and even misleading."
Peggy Noonan on the American Image "We have always felt pride in our nation's ways, and pride isn't all bad," writes Noonan. "But conceit is, and it's possible we've grown as conceited as we've become culturally careless." In terms of our foreign policy, "we should find [the people targeting us], dispatch them, and harden the target. (That would be, still and first, New York, though Washington too.)" she argues. "We should not occupy their lands, run their governments, or try to bribe them into bonhomie." Noonan also describes an outsider watching American television and encountering drunk people having sex with each other on the Jersey Shore, Real Housewives "pulling each other's hair", news of abandoned children, kids with guns, and riots at McDonald's. Do we think no one will notice? "Cultures can't keep their secrets."
Madeleine Bunting on Greg Mortenson's Appeal for Americans The inaccuracies identified in Greg Mortenson's Three Cups of Tea "reveal a lot about the naivety of Americans concerning the world and their role in it," writes Madeleine Bunting at The Guardian. There was plenty of time to question Mortenson's story, but "what empires--particularly those involved in violent conflict--need, above all, is heroes," and people will believe what they want to believe. Yet Mortenson's "one-man mission to bring peace" also betrayed a certain disturbing orientalism, not to mention ignorance of the forces actually at work in the region. More specifically, she writes, Mortenson's focus on women's rights rhetoric "has helped popularise one of the most astonishing conundrums: feminism has been co-opted as a rationale for the US war on terror. It dangerously justifies and confirms an American self-righteousness in central Asia."