Here are today's must read opinion and editorial columns.
TESTING THE AFGHAN EXIT RAMPS BY DAVID IGNATIUSWASHINGTON POSTThe number of troops withdrawn should be a function of the strategic plan, not the other way around. The three variables that U.S. policymakers have been discussing — troop withdrawal, reconciliation with the Taliban and drone attacks in Pakistan — are interrelated. What effect will a change in one variable have on the others? The strategic goal is a regional framework for a post-America Afghanistan. That means, in essence, a coordinated effort by Pakistan, India, Afghanistan and the United States to make a political settlement work. Obama’s challenge in framing his troop-withdrawal announcement is to enhance this regional process, not undercut it. The leaders of Afghanistan, Pakistan and India all want American troops to go home — but not if that creates a new vacuum that makes them more vulnerable.
OBAMA AND FREE TRADE: APPEASE BIG LABOR BY GEORGE F. WILLWASHINGTON POSTReactionary liberalism holds that existing jobs must be protected with policies that reduce the economic dynamism that would mean a net increase in American jobs. So the dreary probability is that even if the TAA entitlement were re-enriched to stimulus levels, Democrats would again move the goal posts, concocting new objections to the trade agreements. Most Democrats oppose such agreements but lack the courage to express their controlling conviction, which is: Organized labor, which represents just 6.9 percent of the private-sector workforce, must be appeased, even if doing so injures other American workers or Americans who would be workers if policies such as TAA did not impede economic dynamism.
ANTHONY WEINER AND THE TWEET ROAD TO OBLIVION BY E.J. DIONNE JR.WASHINGTON POSTOkay, most of us will always pay attention to sex stories, and apocalyptic fears are usually a form of paranoia. But we’re a superpower with big economic problems. We’re acting like a country that has all the time in the world to dance around our troubles by indulging in ideological fantasies and focusing on the behavioral fantasies of wayward politicians — who, by the way, keep creating opportunities for distraction.
OBAMA'S WORST WEEK, PAWLENTY'S BEST BY DANIEL HENNINGERWALL STREET JOURNALAmid a news cycle whose message is "nothing's working," Mr. Pawlenty delivered a major speech on economic policy whose title could have been: All the Things Barack Obama Has Not Tried to Do to Lift the Economy and Never Will...There is, however, a serious policy implication inside the Pawlenty proposals. We are heading toward an election fought over the economy. That's good because ultimately this means the subject is growth. The one consensus that exists across the political spectrum is that strong economic growth eases many problems—from the entitlement burden to the tragedy of high youth unemployment.
THE PRESIDENT'S MEDICARE ABDICATION BY KARL ROVEWALL STREET JOURNALThe Medicare trust fund situation also shows how politically the Obama White House views virtually every major public policy issue. Mr. Obama apparently wants to keep Medicare as an issue to beat up Republicans in the 2012 campaign, protect congressional Democrats from tough votes in the months before the next election, and avoid injecting any controversial subjects into the mix that might harm his chances for a second term...Today the cost of America's unsustainable entitlements is leading to ruin. Mr. Obama has backed away from tackling this issue, even at the expense of ignoring the law. The country will pay a big price.
INTERNET PIRACY AND HOW TO STOP IT EDITORIALNEW YORK TIMESA group of Internet safety experts cautioned that the procedure to redirect Internet traffic from offending Web sites would mimic what hackers do when they take over a domain. If it occurred on a large enough scale it could impair efforts to enhance the safety of the domain name system...This kind of blocking is unlikely to be very effective. Users could reach offending Web sites simply by writing the numerical I.P. address in the navigator box, rather than the URL. The Web sites could distribute free plug-ins to translate addresses into numbers automatically.