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Must Read Op-Eds for Tuesday, December 13, 2011

THE RYAN PRIMARYBY ROBERT COSTANATIONAL REVIEWRyan, the influential budget-committee chairman, may not endorse a candidate before January, but the competition

THE RYAN PRIMARYBY ROBERT COSTANATIONAL REVIEWRyan, the influential budget-committee chairman, may not endorse a candidate before January, but the competition to be seen as a Ryan ally is intense, says one GOP insider. Romney’s latest ads, the insider says, are part of what Republican strategists dub the “Ryan primary,” with Romney and Gingrich eager to be identified as fellow travelers.

THE BRITISH EURO FARCEBY ROGER COHENNEW YORK TIMESBritain's defiant freedom and independence are real virtues proven over time. The thing about the Euro-sceptics behind Cameron's Brussels bungling is they turn past glory into posturing theater. Their nostalgia for British greatness is often no more than the trumpeting of a bunch of insular snobs who seem to have a hard time restraining their inner-fascist. Marx observed that history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce. Having a British prime minister say he'll only go along with Germany saving the euro if City of London banks get an exemption from a financial transactions tax, while a Tory M.P. parties with Nazi lookalikes, and another Tory boasts of Cameron having "played a blinder," is about as farcical as it gets.KEYSTONE CLAPTRAPEDITORIALNEW YORK TIMESContrary to another favorite Republican argument, the [Keystone] pipeline will also do little to reduce America’s dependence on Middle Eastern oil. Though it would provide a steady source of crude for Gulf Coast refineries, existing contracts and business plans indicate that most of their output will be destined for export. In the Senate, the minority leader, Mitch McConnell, calls the Keystone XL “a shovel-ready project.” He and Mr. Boehner should look again at the environmental downside and at the negative public reaction along the proposed route through sensitive terrain. They should also take a look at the job numbers. The only shovel this project is ready for is the one that will bury it for good. REASON TO SMILE ABOUT THE DURBAN CLIMATE CONFERENCEBY EUGENE ROBINSONWASHINGTON POSTChina is getting serious about alternative energy. Emissions will continue to rise, but a commitment by China alone is enough to begin bending the curve. As companies such as Suntech — and, one hopes, U.S. competitors — keep bringing the cost of solar panels down, we can begin to get a handle on the problem. By 2020 or even 2015, carbon limits may seem less onerous. But it’s necessary to keep the negotiating process alive until it is possible to reach a meaningful agreement. So yes, you can argue that the Durban conference only managed to kick the climate can down the road. For now, though, that might be enough. PRESIDENT OBAMA'S TOO-ROSY VISION OF POSTWAR IRAQEDITORIALWASHINGTON POSTThough he may have, as Mr. Obama said, domestic reasons for doing so, he has set himself apart from the rest of the Arab League by refusing to break with the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad, a key Iranian ally. Mr. Obama’s virtually unqualified support for Mr. Maliki consequently was unsettling. The president said that the U.S. “goal is simply to make sure that Iraq succeeds, because we think a successful, democratic Iraq can be a model for the entire region.” That is true. But success will require continued and concerted U.S. engagement, not rosy declarations about a mission accomplished.CONGRESS'S PHONY INSDIER-TRADING REFORMBY JONATHAN MACEYWALL STREET JOURNALIf the law passes in its current form, insider trading by Congress will not become illegal. I predict such trading will increase because the rules of the game will be clearer. ...  If enacted, the law of insider trading will remain one of many where one reality applies to Congress and an uncomfortable and insecure reality applies to everybody else. Just as Congress is protected from the vicissitudes of ObamaCare, Congress will remain safe from the vagaries of insider trading law. The rest of us will still be vulnerable. THE EURO ZONE'S GERMAN CRISISBY ALAN BLINDERWALL STREET JOURNALSince 2000, German unit labor costs have risen about 20%-30% less than unit labor costs in the other euro countries. That gap has left Germany with a large intra-Europe trade surplus while most other countries run deficits. If we were talking about China, at this point we would accuse the Chinese of manipulating their currency to gain an "unfair" trade advantage. But, of course, Germany has not manipulated anything. It has acquired a seriously undervalued currency by locking into fixed exchange rates with Greece, Spain, Italy and the others. ... Thus the euro zone has a big, visible Greek problem, which is a result of failure. But it also has a far bigger, though less visible, German problem, which is a result of success.