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Their Views

Why I won’t go to Netanyahu’s speech

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in the midst of a heated reelection campaign. Yet, he is traveling 5,900 miles to give a speech before a joint meeting of Congress on Tuesday — just two weeks before Israelis go to the polls.

An ‘invite’ for Putin

When Ukraine’s president, pressed by the leaders of France and Germany, signed a peace agreement for eastern Ukraine on Feb. 12, he hoped it would purchase several months of calm during which the beleaguered government in Kiev could move ahead with economic reforms and bolster its military defenses. That didn’t happen: Russian forces launched a major attack immediately after the conclusion of the agreement and captured a key town, Debaltseve. That raised the question of whether Western leaders would take action to punish Russian President Vladimir Putin’s violation and impede further aggression.

Partners in repression

Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro paid a visit to Havana and met with Raúl and Fidel Castro, who have been his patrons and who helped to install him in power after the death of Hugo Chavez.

Reversing course in Illinois

CHICAGO — The most portentous election of 2014, which gave the worst-governed state its first Republican governor in 12 years, has initiated this century’s most intriguing political experiment. Illinois has favored Democratic presidential candidates by an average of 16 points in the last six elections. But by electing businessman Bruce Rauner, it initiated a process that might dismantle a form of governance that afflicts many states and municipalities.

Knowledge isn’t necessarily power

Regular readers know that I sometimes mock “very serious people” — politicians and pundits who solemnly repeat conventional wisdom that sounds tough-minded and realistic. The trouble is that sounding serious and being serious are by no means the same thing, and some of those seemingly tough-minded positions are actually ways to dodge the truly hard issues.

Spend not, pay not

Washington is short on fresh thinking about almost everything, taxes and tax reform very much included. So it was encouraging to see Maryland’s junior U.S. senator, Benjamin L. Cardin, D, promoting a plan to overhaul the tax code that is nothing if not radical. Though imperfect, and unlikely to pass Congress any time soon, Mr. Cardin’s plan deserves to be taken seriously by anyone searching for a way out of the blind alley that is the current partisan discussion of fiscal issues.

Greece deal averts crisis but exposes EU malaise

With their tentative agreement on financial aid for Greece, the euro zone’s finance ministers have paused a drama that could still end in disaster and that should never have happened in the first place. The deal outlined on Friday won’t be concluded until next week, and could still fall apart, but Friday’s talks are being seen as a breakthrough.