Five Best Friday Columns

Leonid Bershidsky on the MH17 crash in Ukraine, Julia Ioffe on Russia's punishment, Zoe Mintz on the future of Malaysian Airlines, Paul Krugman on inflation, and Peggy Noonan on life after the presidency. 

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Leonid Bershidsky in Bloomberg View on why the Malaysian Airlines crash gives Vladimir Putin significantly less control over the conflict in Ukraine.  Bershidsky writes that regardless of who ended up shooting down MH17, blame will ultimately lie with Russian separatists, the most likely culprit. "Even if new information surfaces absolving the trigger-happy Strelkov and his men, there is no denying the fact that the conflict in eastern Ukraine is their doing." The conflict in Ukraine is no longer regional, but international, something Russia and the separatists will have no choice but to accept. "The only solution is for professionals to intervene, separate the sides and oversee their disarmament. If the downing of Flight MH17 proves to be the work of participants in the conflict, the United Nations will have cause to send in peacekeeping troops. If Russian President Vladimir Putin resists that, he will be as guilty as those responsible for the crash."

Julia Ioffe in The New Republic on why Russia may avoid facing significant consequences. The shooting down of  Malaysian Airline's flight MH17 is a potential game changer in the conflict over Ukraine. The entire world is now involved. "Make no mistake: this is a really, really, really big deal. This is the first downing of a civilian jetliner in this conflict and, if it was the rebels who brought it down, all kinds of ugly things follow. For one thing, what seemed to be gelling into a frozen local conflict has now broken into a new phase, one that directly threatens European security. The plane, let's recall, was flying from Amsterdam." However, Ioffe suggests that regardless of the potential ramifications, there is also a possibility that not much actually changes in Ukraine. "Even if the U.S. gives Ukraine lethal military aid, it in no way guarantees that Kiev's military will be able to crush the separatists, especially not without some bloody, horrific urban warfare. The plane went down, raised the stakes, but what can the West—or Moscow—really do about it?"

Zoe Mintz in the International Business Times on how the future of Malaysian Airlines depends on their handling of the crisis. Mintz writes that while Malaysia Airlines faces an uphill climb in boosting consumer confidence, they can recover. "... unlike MH370, whose whereabouts remain unknown and whose fate is rife with conspiracy theories as a result, there is more information available about this latest crash. That may help the airline to respond more adequately. And early reports that the MH17 crash was caused by external agents — as opposed to structural failure, pilot error or pilot suicide — may help the airline avoid the major blame for the disaster." She continues that while many people will still be afraid to fly on the airline, the company is in a better position to handle the current disaster than they were after the disappearance of flight MH370. "'Hopefully they have learned lessons [from the MH370 disaster] on being transparent and open,' Dr. Matthew Seeger, a communications professor at Wayne State University, said."

Paul Krugman in The New York Times on how conservative's obsession with the possibility of runaway inflation isn't rooted in fact.  Krugman writes that while the right has been, and continues to be, obsessed with the possibility of extreme inflation, it still hasn't occurred. "I have some advice for so-called reform conservatives trying to rebuild the intellectual vitality of the right: You need to start by facing up to the fact that your movement is in the grip of some uncontrollable urges. In particular, it’s addicted to inflation — not the thing itself, but the claim that runaway inflation is either happening or about to happen." Krugman points out that the fear of inflation peddled by some on the right has no real basis in economics, but is rather a reaction to government policies that are seen as too interventionist. "More generally, modern American conservatism is deeply opposed to any form of government activism, and while monetary policy is sometimes treated as a technocratic affair, the truth is that printing dollars to fight a slump, or even to stabilize some broader definition of the money supply, is indeed an activist policy."

Peggy Noonan in The Wall St. Journal (subscription) on whether a Harry Truman-like post-presidency is possible anymore. When he left the White House Truman was dead broke, literally. "He didn't know how he would make a living. His great concern was not to do anything that might exploit or 'commercialize' the office he'd just left. He was offered small fortunes to associate himself with real estate companies and other corporations but he turned them down." However today most former presidents never really leave office, writes Noonan. "They grab and grub. They never leave. They never go home. They don't have a "home": They were born in a place, found a launching pad, and shot themselves into glamour and wealth. They are operators—entitled, assuming. They 'stand for the people.' They stand for themselves."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.