Five Best Friday Columns

David Ignatius on ISIL, Paul Krugman on inflation, Financial Times on jihadism, Daniel Gordis on Israel, Alec MacGillis on policing. 

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David Ignatius in The Washington Post on why the killing of journalist James Foley is not a victory for the Islamic State. Ignatius writes that ISIL is overreaching. "The propagandists of the Islamic State must have imagined that their brutal video of the beheading of journalist James Foley would intimidate and terrorize the world. But people aren’t built that way, not in Muslim countries or anywhere else." Ignatius writes that even Osama Bin Laden conceded this was a failing strategy. "Documents taken from his hideout show that, in his final days, bin Laden was haunted by the mistakes al-Qaeda had made. The organization’s wanton killing had appalled and alienated Muslims, to the point that bin Laden wondered whether the group should rebrand itself as a less toxic force... This week’s macabre executioner, robed in black, traces his jihadist lineage to the very people bin Laden was condemning..."

Paul Krugman in The New York Times on why a vocal minority of economists on the right continue to warn of inflation. Krugman writes that these warnings have been wrong for the last six years. "With very few exceptions, officials and economists who issued dire warnings about inflation years ago are still issuing more or less identical warnings today... Now, everyone who has been in the economics business any length of time, myself very much included, has made some incorrect predictions... The inflation hawks, however, show no sign of learning from their mistakes."  He contends that warnings of inflation are motivated by traditionally conservative political biases rather than mainstream economics.  "Carving out an exception for monetary policy — 'Government is always the problem, not the solution, unless we’re talking about the Fed cutting interest rates to fight unemployment' — may just be too subtle a distinction to draw in an era when Republican politicians draw their economic ideas from Ayn Rand novels."

Financial Times on why Great Britain must address its problem with jihadism. FT writes that more and more British citizens are becoming trained jihadis. "Although the sight of a British national belonging to the group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (or Isis) claiming responsibility for beheading a bound victim is calculated to provoke, it is nonetheless shocking. British citizens have poured into Syria since the uprising against the Assad regime began in 2011. Of 500 who have travelled to Syria and Iraq, some 200 have now returned to the UK. It is a safe bet that they have been well trained and radicalised." The paper contends that British lawmakers (and intelligence agencies) must make this problem clear to the public. "Preventing young Muslim men from becoming radicalised is a task that will take a generation. In the meantime, the security services in Britain and the west are stretched to the limit in tracking those who would do us harm. We forget this at our peril."

Daniel Gordis in Bloomberg View on why Israelis have lost faith in the United States. In the wake of James Foley's death, many Israelis are asking why the U.S. views the Islamic State any differently than Hamas. "When Islamic State executes an innocent American -- befuddled Israelis noticed -- Obama has the capacity for outrage and moral clarity. But in Israel’s conflict, even though Hamas is sworn on Israel’s destruction and has been killing innocent Israelis for years, the best that Obama has been able to utter is the standard 'Israel has a right to defend itself.'" Gordis writes, "Why is Islamic State a 'cancer' while Hamas is a legitimate partner in a Palestinian unity-government, about which U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said, 'We will work with it as we need to'?...  To use the language of the Talmud, they’re essentially asking, 'Why was James Foley’s blood any redder than ours?'"

Alec MacGillis on The New Republic on why de-militarizing police requires de-militarizing civilians. MacGillis writes that while Libertarians have recently come out in favor of police de-militarization, they are against any gun control reforms. "There is indeed agreement between many liberals and libertarians that the militarization of the police, especially in its dealings with racial minorities, has gone too far. But this consensus may crumble pretty quickly when it’s confronted with the obvious police counter-argument: that the authorities’ heavy firepower and armor is necessary in light of all the firepower they’re up against." MacGillis points to Rand Paul as an example of why Libertarian rhetoric won't translate to policy. "... the ballyhooed caution against police militarization by Rand Paul, the libertarian senator from Kentucky, looked a bit more dubious in the broader context of Paul’s politics... Horwitz goes on to note that Paul was the featured speaker at an Open Carry rally in Frankfort, Kentucky in 2010, and that he had little to say against Cliven Bundy’s anti-government standoff in Nevada, two of whose adherents went on to fatally shoot two police officers."

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