Nancy Goldstein on the Vatican Roadblock to Female AIDS Prevention  On the 30th anniversary of the discovery of AIDS, the United Nations is meeting to "evaluate the progress of that body's response to the pandemic over the past five years and set the agenda for the next decade," writes Nancy Goldstein at The Guardian. For its part, the Holy See's "all-male team has been trying to strip all references to sexual and reproductive health and rights from the meeting's declaration; gutting all mentions of education and prevention other than marriage and fidelity; and insisting that 'families' be replaced with 'the family,' as though that monolith even exists or that it provides some kind of magic shield against HIV." Despite the persistently and disproportionately high rate of female infection at present, the Vatican is opposing all "female-controlled prevention methods...despite the fact that female condoms and the very promising looking microbicides now being developed have no relation to abortion and represent the single greatest potential life saver for women worldwide." Goldstein points out that "preaching fidelity won't protect a woman [in sub-Saharan Africa] (or anywhere) from HIV, because her primary risk of HIV infection is probably unprotected sex with her husband." Though recognizing the Vatican's staunch position is hardly anything new, Goldstein argues it "should be particularly shocking now, given all that we know about the impact of the pandemic on women and girls."

John Steele Gordon on the History of Political Sex Scandals  "Hanky-panky in the political class is as old as the Republic," writes John Steele Gordon in today's Wall Street Journal, noting that Representative Anthony Weiner's current Twitter scandal is relatively tame compared to those of Eliot Spitzer, Vito Fossella, John Edwards, Bill Clinton and so many other politicians who've been publicly shamed for their sexual escapades. He points out that Bill Clinton was hardly the first, recalling the historic tabloid-style scandals of Alexander Hamilton, Grover Cleveland, undersecretary of state Sumner Welles, Wilbur Mills, former chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and Oregon Senator Bob Packwood, trailing off to exemplify that the list goes on and on. "As the late historian Stephen Ambrose once explained on PBS's 'NewsHour' about the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, 'God created man with a penis and a brain and gave him only enough blood to run one at a time.'" The recent revelations about Weiner and others reinforce this theory all the more.
 
Joshua Green on the Illegal Immigration Issue  Despite the attention given by politicians and cable news pundits to the deficit and Medicare, The Atlantic's Josh Green points out in today's Boston Globe that recent polls suggest that "illegal immigration has become a central and divisive force in American politics, and could have major implications for the next election." Over the past year minorities have grown to 36 percent of the American population, and although "attitudes among different racial groups are converging" over "the benefits of a free-market society, on the importance of education and individual effort in getting ahead, and on the idea that we are making real progress toward equal opportunities for all," Green notes that Americans are also "troubled by the growing number of minorities." Many white Americans blame illegal immigrants for dire prospects for themselves and their children, though polls reveal that Americans grossly overestimate how much of the minority population is made up of illegal immigrants. Green argues that "this widespread misconception stems from a lack of information that’s largely due to both the Democratic and Republican parties' unwillingness to pursue immigration reform, after years of failed attempts." Ignorance of such a key issue is a roadblock to solving our economic issues, and, troublingly, this attitude towards immigration splits party leanings along racial lines.
 
Six European Ambassadors to Iran on the U.N.'s Attitude towards Tehran's Nuclear Program  Former European ambassadors to Iran Richard Dalton, Steen Hohwü-Christensen, Paul von Maltzahn, Guillaume Metten, François Nicoullaud, and Roberto Toscano write in the Los Angeles Times today that "it is unacceptable that the talks [with Iran on nuclear development] have been deadlocked for such a long time." Though the U.S. and Europe are authorized by the U.N. to use "coercive measures in case of 'threats to the peace,'" such threats are not so easily defined. Technically, "nothing in international law or in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty forbids the enrichment of uranium," for example, nor do we have proof that Iran is actually building nuclear weapons. "We often hear that Iran's ill-will, its refusal to negotiate seriously, left our countries no other choice but to drag it to the Security Council in 2006," but they point out that Tehran readily agreed to thorough and even invasive inspections. This was ignored by the U.S. and Europe who seem to fear offering "the Iranian regime an opening that could help it restore its internal and international legitimacy." The authors suggest that "the five permanent members of the Security Council and Germany should certainly keep the focus on matters of political and human rights, but they should also try harder to solve a frustrating and still urgent proliferation problem. By doing so, we would reduce a serious source of tension in a region that longs more than ever for tranquility."
 
Brad Glosserman on China's Cold War Strategy  Brad Glosserman wonders if the Chinese are pursuing the same strategy against the U.S. that helped us bankrupt the Soviet Union through the Cold War. "Is Beijing pushing US buttons, forcing it to spend increasingly sparce resources on defence assets and diverting them from other more productive uses?" Glosserman asks at The Diplomat. He points to evidence that, though China may overestimate its economic supremacy over the U.S. following the world's financial crisis, "China is trying to shape [the U.S.'s spending] strategy--not just by playing down its potential to threaten the United States but by playing up some of its capabilities," such as the anti-satellite test and the stealth fighter, for example. "Nothing would be more detrimental to long-term U.S. interests than to short-change the domestic investments needed to keep the country strong," Glosserman says, insisting that the U.S. could combat Chinese advances by better leveraging "its strengths, in particular its relationship with allies, friends and partners."