Five Best Wednesday Columns

David Ignatius on Obama's ISIS strategy, Benjamin Domenech on libertarianism, David A. Andelman on Kurdistan, Leonid Bershidsky on the Apple Watch, and Andrew Sharp on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

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David Ignatius in The Washington Post on what President Obama must address in his speech tonight on the Islamic State. Ignatius writes that Obama must touch on many different concerns when he explains his plan for dealing with ISIS. "What’s the exit strategy? As Obama begins his effort to 'degrade and ultimately destroy' the Islamic State, his aides told the New York Times the campaign could take three years. How will the United States and its allies know when they have 'won'?" Ignatius also warns that any future U.S. action against the Islamic State must take into account the possibility of provoking an unwanted counter-response. "Is the United States walking into a trap that has been constructed by the Islamic State — launching attacks that will rally jihadists around the world? From everything the jihadists proclaim in their propaganda, we can sense that they have been dreaming of this showdown. This is why the United States needs to make sure that, with every step it takes, it is surrounded by Muslim friends and allies."

Benjamin Domenech in Politico on why the GOP should embrace its libertarian leanings. Domenech contends that the Republican Party is at a crossroads, and that if it wants to succeed in future elections it must prioritize younger voters. "Millennials include a multitude of disparate views, which pollsters are struggling to turn into a coherent narrative. But there is no doubt that the energy on the young political right today is in its more libertarian cohort, more so than traditional conservative organizations." Domenech argues that a return to the failures of the Republican Party under President George W. Bush would be a significant mistake. "Republicans frittered away their reputation as the adults in the room by mismanaging the response to Katrina, starting an unnecessary war in Iraq, failing to kill Osama Bin Laden and throwing their hands in the air during the financial crisis... The combination of Republican hypocrisy and irresponsibility led to a backlash – the rise of the tea-party movement in 2010. But as a broader trend it also led to an increase in the number of Americans open to the ideas of more libertarian candidates, such as the Pauls."

David A. Andelman in USA Today on why the United States should support an independent Kurdistan. Andelman writes that ahead of President Obama's speech on Wednesday night, the U.S. should re-consider supporting a Kurdish state in Iraq. "Holding Iraq together with training, foreign aid and diplomatic pressure has been tried and failed. Perhaps it is time to turn elsewhere. Our last and best hope of turning the tide against the Islamist thugs could be the powerful and motivated Kurdish people, especially their valiant army, the peshmerga." Andelman suggests that Kurdistan is ripe to become a viable, stable, and positive force in the region. "Given the means and authority, the Kurds have every right to become the Israel of the Muslim Middle East. And they won't even ask for a handout. Plenty of oil and a vibrant commercial class assure them of a solid economic foundation... Imagine helping a true Islamic democracy emerge in the heart of the Middle East, something we tried desperately to do in Iraq at the cost of so many American lives."

Leonid Bershidsky in Bloomberg View on why Apple has become more of a fashion company and less of a technology company. Bershidsky writes that the announcement of the new Apple Watch reinforces a shift in the company from technology to fashion. "The Apple Watch isn't a tech miracle. It requires a phone to work, creating an Occam's-razor moment for the consumer: Do I need another device if I still have to carry my phone around with me everywhere? Samsung has overcome this by offering a smart watch that doesn't need a phone." Bershidsky argues that the company that pioneered the smart phone has evolved into something different. "Apple looks less convincing as a service provider, and even as a technology innovator, than as a fashion juggernaut -- something it has been turning into with the purchase of Beats Electronics and the hiring of former Burberry chief Angela Ahrendts to run its retail arm. Jony Ive's glamorous watch crowns the transformation."

Andrew Sharp in Grantland on why Roger Goodell should be fired as NFL commissioner.  Sharp writes that while Goodell is not responsible for player's conduct, his failure to lead the league has unnecessarily compounded the problem. "The problems in the real world are bad enough, but if we can’t even get things right in this alternate universe full of fake laws and uniform policies and codes of conduct, that just makes everything seem twice as hopeless. Sports are supposed to be an escape, not a reminder of everything that’s unfair and hypocritical everywhere else." Sharp continues, "The only behavior this league polices effectively involves uniforms, celebrations, or marijuana testing that the rest of the country stopped caring about several years ago. Meanwhile, there’s still no HGH policy in place, head injuries remain a problem with no clear solution, domestic violence and offseason crime is an issue that’s not getting better, and as the league pushes for an 18-game schedule and a draft in late May, more people than ever wonder how much longer we can keep watching."

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