Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

CUTTING EDGE: New Ideas, Sharp Opinions [Derived Headline]

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

CUTTING EDGE: New Ideas, Sharp Opinions [Derived Headline]

Article excerpt

HELP THE KURDS

Dexter Filkins in The New Yorker urges the United States to aid and arm the Kurds in Iraq, who are fighting the brutal Islamic State more effectively than the hapless Iraqi government. In its sweep across northwestern Iraq, the Islamic State just took over a town and strategic dam that had been controlled by the Kurds, which likely will result in a massacre of residents the Islamists consider apostates.

Mr. Filkins points out that "the Kurds are among America's best friends in the Middle East; they are pro-Western, largely secular and largely democratic. Since 1991, when Saddam Hussein's latest attempt to launch a genocidal campaign against them was thwarted by the United States, the Kurds have more or less governed themselves. During the American war, from 2003 to 2011, not a single American soldier was killed in the Kurdish region."

If U.S. aid helps the Kurds break away from Iraq, so be it, Mr. Filkins writes. The Shiite-controlled government of Nouri al-Maliki has treated the Kurds "harshly and arbitrarily," just as he has the Sunnis, which "precipitated the events that led to the ISIS takeover" of the northwest in the first place.

RYAN'S RIGHT ON WELFARE

Scott Winship at Forbes.com criticizes liberal criticism of Rep. Paul Ryan's plan to fold 11 federal safety net programs into block grants sent to the states with few strings attached (including work requirements and time limits for beneficiaries).

Mr. Winship says the program would be similar to welfare reforms enacted during the Clinton administration, after which poverty "declined significantly." Mr. Ryan, he says, "has proposed to build on welfare reform and extend its approach. .

"Despite the evidence from welfare reform, when cash assistance was block-granted after decades of being an open-ended entitlement, [the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities] believes that block- granting safety net programs will harm the poor. …

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