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The Daily Fray

Five Best Wednesday Columns

April 6, 2011

Curt Weldon on Persuading Qaddafi to Leave  At The New York Times today, Curt Weldon, a former Republican representative, shares the outline of a special mission he and other delegation members are on to try to convince Muammar Qaddafi to relinquish power. Weldon, who has met with the Libyan dictator before, observes that while "Americans should play a critical role in helping Libyans build a new government, Washington has squandered many opportunities to achieve that goal without bloodshed"--particularly by only conducting American-Libyan relations with Qaddafi and members of his family. Weldon also knows, from experience, that Qaddafi must be persuaded, not bombed, "into submission." After a ceasefire is achieved, "we must identify and engage with those leaders who, if not perfect, are pragmatic and reform-minded and thus best positioned to lead the country." Weldon acknowledges that this is a very bare-bones plan with the key players as of yet unidentified. Still, "in the meantime, the people of Libya deserve more than bombs."

Holman Jenkins on Inflation and Austerity  "Austerity and inflation are not incompatible," says the Wall Street Journal columnist, questioning whether the U.S. government will follow through on its promise to allow those who've purchased Treasury inflation-protected services, TIPS, "to preserve the purchasing power of their dollar-denominated savings." Japan and Europe, for example, have both resorted to inflation to combat the debt resulting from natural disasters and bailing out poor member-states. Jenkins predicts it's only a matter of time before the inflation solution is attempted on the rest of the developed world's debt. "Have no fear that our decision-makers will impose both fiscal austerity and inflation on us when it becomes absolutely unavoidable," Jenkins says. "The momentous question is whether they will do anything productive in the meantime."

Fatou Keita's Personal Account of the Ivory Coast  Novelist Fatou Keita recounts her own experience as a Abidjan resident trapped inside her home and fed contradicting rumors about what is going on outside. In The New York Times, Keita writes that last Thursday, rumors surfaced that "troops loyal to Alassane Ouattara, the internationally recognized winner of the election, were coming" to challenge the incumbent, Laurent Gbagbo. She and her family were unable to leave their apartment building, as gunshots and looters ravage the streets outside. Keita notes that she cannot rely on the country's state news, so spends hours on the computer talking to friends in other countries and attempting to piece together what is happening in Ivory Coast through various international reports. When a woman outside started to give birth, unable to get outside to assist her, she retrieved the Red Cross number by contacting a friend in Paris. "Thank you, Internet." As the violence outside escalated, Keita and her family lay on the floor to avoid windows.

Michael Tomasky on Why Democrats Need to Do More  The Guardian's Michael Tomasky notes that the Tea Party faction refusing to compromise will ultimately be responsible for the government shutdown. Still, he argues, Democrats should not prepare to celebrate this, as they should realize that they've allowed the debate to be "conducted entirely on Republican terms," and have failed at pushing initiatives such as tax increases that, even at the rate under Ronald Reagan, would put us "in far better fiscal shape" than we are now. "The Tea Party argument that there's bloat and waste in Washington will always fall on receptive ears in America. But the counter-argument isn't to quibble about how much to cut. The counter-argument is to say we believe in a society where the wealthy pay their share, which they plainly have not been doing," he writes. "We're on our way to a radically shrunken society, and the Democrats are helping take us there."

Matthew Shaffer on Britain's Special Relationship With Libya  National Review's Matthew Shaffer makes the argument that, before Britain became one of the first and loudest proponents of a no-fly zone over Libya, its "elite were world leaders in Libya-toadying." Britain sold arms to the country, despite the danger of its attacking its own citizens as well as providing a safe haven for terrorists, "welcomed Qaddafi's family and money with open arms," and released the Lockerbie bomber. Former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, was hired by JP Morgan "to broker deals in Libya" and "was considered such 'a close personal friend' to the Qaddafis, according to a son, that one actually pled with the former prime minister to prevent British intervention in Libya."

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