The Genteel Nation

Posted by , 13th September 2010

AmericansDavid Brooks
9/10/2010

Brooks says the notion that America is in decline is debatable, but it is undergoing changes that are structural, not cyclical. Our best talent is entering the helping or consulting fields, which are less prosperous. Yet there is also a shortage of mechanics and other skilled workers because the middle class saw their way into affluence by leaving the working class trades. And the lower classes are plagued with social breakdown, which results in wasted human capital. Brooks says short-term stimulus is a distraction. The real issue is gentility shift and whether we can address it.

Brooks is a New York Times columnist.

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The Healers of 9/11

Posted by , 10th September 2010

Afghanistan_WomenNicholas D. Kristof
9/9/2010

A Jewish woman who lost her husband in the September 11 attacks is planning to speak at mosques in order to recruit members to join her in her battle against poverty and illiteracy in Afghanistan. Kristof looks at how Susan Retik and her partner, another widow from September 11, started a nonprofit called Beyond the 11th to do so, and he reviews many of the organization’s initiatives. Although education and employment are not panaceas, they do chip away at fundamentalism over time, and the work offers an antidote to anti-Islamic hysteria on this anniversary of 9/11.

Kristof is a New York Times columnist.

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Dr. Seuss and the Afghan Military

Posted by , 10th September 2010

afghansWilliam B. Caldwell
9/9/2010

As thousands of Afghans train, fight, and die for their nation, working and fighting to make a better future, we should give them the tools, hope, and respect to chart a new and better path for their people. Toward that end, the NATO training mission has about 27,000 recruits from the Afghan army and police in mandatory literacy programs at any given time. That number will grow to 50,000 by this December and to about 100,000 by June of next year. Afghan soldiers and police are plenty intelligent, and literacy will help them become a modern force.

Lt. Gen. Caldwell is commander of the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan.

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Our ‘Moderate Muslim’ Problem

Posted by , 18th August 2010

Bret Stephens
8/17/2010

Ground Zero

In the controversy over the Ground Zero mosque, opponents of which are being widely branded as

bigots, Stephens says the Ground Zero mosque imam has earned wide congratulations while true reformers have gone ignored. The fundamental problem with too many self-described moderate Muslims is that moderate Muslims denounce

terror that’s committed in the name of Islam but deny that such terror has anything to do with their religion. By contrast, reform-minded Muslims denounce terror that’s committed in the name of Islam while acknowledging the role of their religion in inspiring it. He concludes by urging caution, stating that when it comes to heralding the arrival of Islamic moderates, there’s nothing more embarrassing than a case of premature congratulation.

Stephens writes ‘Global View’ for the Journal.

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Europe’s burqa rage

Posted by , 27th May 2010
Burqa, via Director of National Intelligence.
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Michael Gerson
5/26/2010

Throughout history there have been times when respect for another culture clashes with universal human rights. A form of this is playing out now among traditional, burqa-wearing Muslims and a more liberal, European society. Seen as a sign of subjugation and oppression, some European leaders find the burqa unacceptable. But Gerson points out that banning or otherwise regulating the wearing of burqas is actually an assertion of European cultural identity that undermines the concept of religious freedom.

Gerson writes about politics, global health and development, religion and foreign policy.

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Two Theories of Change

Posted by , 25th May 2010
John Trumbull's painting, Declaration of Indep...

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David Brooks
5/25/2010

There were two periods of enlightenment, Brooks says, which include the French and British Enlightenments. Americans have never figured out which they are children of. Brooks looks at each vision of change and compares them. He says the core question in American politics is whether our nation’s founding was a radical departure or an act of preservation. Brooks adds that this was a source of dispute between Jefferson and Hamilton and between and within political parties today.

Brooks is a New York Times columnist.

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A hollow ‘reset’ with Russia

Posted by , 25th May 2010
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Robert Kagan
5/25/2010

The Obama administration and the media are hailing the president’s successful “reset” diplomacy with Russia, claiming Obama’s approach has resulted in Russia’s agreement to a UN Security Council resolution against a nuclear Iran. But the author notes that Russia’s verbal agreement with the US about Iranian nuclear proliferation is nothing new. In fact, the Bush administration elicited similar agreeable responses from Russian leaders in 2006, 2007, and 2008. This latest agreement could very well be just another round of “Charlie Brown and the football,” says Kagan.

Kagan, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, writes a monthly column for The Post.

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The Big Fat Greek IMF Crowd-Out

Posted by , 20th May 2010
International Monetary Fund logo.

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Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar
5/20/2010

The rules of the IMF are being bent to accommodate the fiscal needs of European countries that together dominate its shareholding. Although the IMF articles of association allow lending specifically for supporting countries’ balance of payments, the organization is not supposed to lend for fiscal support alone, and no developing country has ever received a loan to meet a purely fiscal problem, as Greece is now. Profligate Europeans may be squeezing emerging markets out of limited lending capacity. Brazil, Russia, India, and China (the “BRICs”) have all contributed to the latest expansion of IMF lending capacity, transferring significant cash to Europe. Yet this change in balance between creditors and debtors is not reflected in IMF voting shares, which must rise sharply to reflect the significance of the BRICs.

Aiyar is a research fellow at the Cato Institute’s Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity in Washington, DC.

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Sunny Days in Israel

Posted by , 7th May 2010

Roger Cohen
5/7/2010

jerusalen_israelCohen tells of his recent talk with Col. Avi Gil of the Israeli Defense Forces, who seems cautiously optimistic about the prospects of peace between Israel and Palestine. After leaving Israel for a two year stint training with the US Marine Corps, Gil returned to West Bank surprised to see the thickness of the yellow pages had tripled, a sure sign of an increase in business as well as a decrease in violence. Gil admires the state-building of Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad but thinks he may be “walking on the edge” because his pledge of nonviolence hasn’t stopped the stone throwing or Molotov cocktails. Tensions will surely flare when the world pushes for Palestinian statehood in 2011 or 2012 and Israel applies the brakes. For now, Gil says, “Let’s walk slowly to arrive as fast we can.”

Cohen is a columnist for the New York Times.

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