A NEW COURSE FOR THE MIDDLE EAST
WALL STREET JOURNAL
By failing to maintain the elements of our influence and by stepping away from our allies, President Obama has heightened the prospect of conflict and instability. He does not understand that an American policy that lacks resolve can provoke aggression and encourage disorder. The Middle East is a case in point. The Arab Spring presented an opportunity to help move millions of people from oppression to freedom. But it also presented grave risks. We needed a strategy for success, but the president offered none. And now he seeks to downplay the significance of the calamities of the past few weeks. … In this period of uncertainty, we need to apply a coherent strategy of supporting our partners in the Middle East—that is, both governments and individuals who share our values. But this Middle East policy will be undermined unless we restore the three sinews of our influence: our economic strength, our military strength and the strength of our values. That will require a very different set of policies from those President Obama is pursuing.
WAITING FOR AN ARAB SPRING OF IDEAS
NEW YORK TIMES
Many Americans were nonetheless shocked by the chaos and bloodshed across Muslim countries, believing that they had come generously to the aid of the Arab peoples during the uprisings. But Arabs, and Muslims in general, have a longer memory and a broader view. Their mistrust is fueled by America’s decades-long support for dictators who accommodated its economic and security interests; by the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan; by the humiliating treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay; and by America’s seemingly permanent and unconditional support for Israel. The United States and its European allies would be well advised to examine why Muslims are seething. Withdrawing from Afghanistan, respecting United Nations resolutions and treaty obligations with regard to Palestine, calling back the killer drones and winding up the “war on terror” would be excellent places to start.
DEFINING THE DEBATE GAME
EJ DIONNE JR
…The debate is a strategic conundrum for Romney. On the one hand, he has to use it to change his image, particularly among women and the blue-collar white voters he needs to counter Obama’s overwhelming margins among African-Americans and Latinos. This sort of repair work takes debate time and energy away from Romney’s primary task, which is to put Obama on his heels about his record. Romney will have to pull off this two-step at a moment when his campaign has been forced into a course correction. …With Romney not certain he can count on the economy as the issue to power him through the campaign’s final weeks, he is scrambling to find other themes. This very process undermines the focus of his efforts and gives his argument a scattershot feel.
A CHARADE OF TRUTH-TELLING
What defines this campaign, in part, is a yawning gap between the political rhetoric and the country’s budget problems. And it’s not just Obama. Mitt Romney is also playing. The consequences are that the victor will either sidestep those problems or, by attacking them forcefully, shock an unprepared public. Perhaps the first presidential debate, on Wednesday, will unmask and discredit the consensus against candor, though this seems doubtful. It is said of war that truth is the first casualty; that also applies to this campaign.