Focus on next generation in Middle East

As we lurch from crisis to crisis in the Middle East, American leaders appear to find it harder to take the long view.As a culture and a people, we Americans admire decisiveness, directness and channeled conviction from our leaders, who respond accordingly. But as the Arab world transforms, we need to pause, contextualize, and realize that our interests and values are best served by thinking in generational time frames.

Young people are the future, and the United States would do well to recognize that the most important thing we can do as a government, a nation and as individuals is to invest in the next generation of Arab and Middle Eastern leaders. These 20- and 30-somethings are the catalysts of the transformative, revolutionary, tectonic shifts underway -- which show no signs of abating.

These are the people who will hold positions of power and shape their countries' relationship with the U.S.Our grand strategy for managing the so-called Arab Spring should seek to create a prosperous and peaceful generation committed to constructive engagement with the world.

Our strategic policies, then, should align with our values and be centered on nontraditional approaches like youth-to-youth engagement and exchange, promoting social entrepreneurship, leveraging the private sector to create deep economic and social connections, and investing in the training and development of aspiring young people.

Daily turmoil in the Middle East won't end, and sensible pragmatism demands that we address it.But when we do, it should be in the context of the next generation.

Gary Barnabo


Young Professionals in Foreign Policy


With this economic record, Obama hasn't earned re-election

Our economy is not improving under the first-term leadership of President Obama.

We have more than 8 percent continuous unemployment and $6 trillion in new debt. One in six Americans live in poverty, and 46.6 million are now on food stamps. Fewer Americans are working than when President Obama took office, and companies are closing their doors.

Gas prices have soared, food prices are on the rise, household income is dropping by 8.2 percent and there are pending tax increases due to elimination of the Bush tax cuts on Jan. 1.

Out-of-control federal spending and borrowing has led to a national ratings drop. Insurance and medical costs are about to go through the roof, and Social Security is nearly bankrupt. More than 47 percent of Americans now receive some sort of government aid.

Now how can anyone conclude that we are better off now than when Obama took office? President Obama hasn't earned a second term.

William Walters

Pinehurst, N.C.

Senators' support of Akin is offensive

I don't know how conservative Sens. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and former presidential candidate Rick Santorum can look at themselves in the mirror each morning.Their crass, hyperpolitical support for Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., would be laughable if it wasn't so utterly offensive.

Akin's statement in August about "legitimate rape" made him illegitimate as a candidate for the United States Senate.

In his defense, the Missouri lawmaker said he "misspoke."Don't believe him.Republicans everywhere, including party-standard bearer Mitt Romney, were right to demand Akin immediately end his campaign.

Now that the deadline to exit the race has passed, and Akin has picked up the support of DeMint, Blunt and Santorum, they all should be considered a disgrace, too.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach, Calif.