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Must Read Op-Eds for August 23, 2011

PERRY'S REALITY GAP  BY RICHARD COHENWASHINGTON POSTWhatever global warming might or might not have done to polar bears, it has put Rick Perry’s presidential


Whatever global warming might or might not have done to polar bears, it has put Rick Perry’s presidential candidacy at risk. The Republican Texas governor clings to an ice floe of diminishing credibility, emerging in just about a week’s time as intellectually unqualified to be president. He engaged in a brief dialogue with a child about evolution and came out the loser. Perry said there are some gaps in the theory. If so, he is one... I take Perry seriously. [He is] the three-term leader of the vast nation of Texas. The achievement warrants deep respect and, after last week, considerable worry. It’s not his thinking I fear. It’s the lack of any at all.



LESSONS FROM LIBYA  EDITORIALWASHINGTON POSTWe’ve seen across the Middle East, as in the rest of the world, that freedom isn’t something that gets “imposed.” It is pretty much universally desired; just look at the rejoicing in Tripoli as the mantle of fear lifts. The right question for the United States and its allies isn’t whether to help oppressed people fight for freedom, it’s when... This remains, as it has always been, a Libyan struggle. But the United States can offer economic and political support. The key, as fighting ends, is to double down on U.S. commitment to a successful transition to peaceful, civilian rule. Such an outcome would certainly be in the U.S. interest.


ONCE KHADDAFY IS GONE  BY DANIEL SERWERWASHINGTON POSTIn post-Khaddafy Libya, the more that can be done by the Libyans themselves, the better. Libyan capacity to organize themselves should not be underestimated, but Tripoli may require international peacekeepers to keep order, at least in the initial phase... If a U.N.-E.U. effort fails to ensure stability in Libya, the United States should be prepared to mobilize and support a NATO-led effort, including, if necessary, the deployment for a limited duration of U.S. ground forces. Only NATO has the military capacity required. Unilateral U.S. intervention would entail risks without commensurate gains to vital national security interests.


FED UP WITH THE FIELD  BY EUGENE ROBINSONWASHINGTON POSTIn theory, Democrats should be nervous about Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s decision to enter the presidential race. In practice, though, it’s Republicans who have zoomed up the anxiety ladder into freak-out mode. To clarify, not all Republicans are reaching for the Xanax, just those who believe the party has to appeal to centrist independents if it hopes to defeat President Obama next year. Also, those who believe that calling Social Security “an illegal Ponzi scheme ”... might not be the best way to win the votes of senior citizens... Two weeks ago, GOP luminaries were scrambling to find new candidates. And now, after Perry’s debut? Still scrambling, I’m afraid.

KHADDAFY'S FINAL HOURS  EDITORIALNEW YORK TIMESAs we learned at a very high cost in Iraq, all parties must have a role in building a new political order or those excluded will turn to violence. Decision-making — including how to restart damaged oil wells and share oil revenues — must be transparent. World leaders can reinforce these messages by speaking out... The release of frozen Libyan assets and the lifting of sanctions must be carefully managed. It will be up to the Libyans to build their own future. The rebels’ victory — if followed by the democracy they promise — should inspire others to believe that the battle is worth fighting. And no autocrat, no matter how brutal, is invincible.


A THRILLING SPECTACLE IN TRIPOLI  BY FOUAD AJAMIWALL STREET JOURNALThere is no way that a blanket assertion can be made that this massive Libyan upheaval is free of Islamists. What we have is the more compelling evidence of the rebellion itself—its composition, the earnestness of the professionals and civil libertarians active in it, their promise that the terrible autocrat will not be replaced by a zealous, unforgiving theocracy. Revolutions can be stolen and hijacked, this we know, the moderates overwhelmed by determined extremists. But if a bet is to be made on the spectacle now before us, it should be easy to see a better Libya than Gadhafi's monstrous regime rising out of this contest.