The Skeptics

Syria: 4 Uncomfortable Truths That Washington Is Ignoring

Nobody who has been monitoring the civil war in Syria or who has watched raw footage from civilians and rescue workers can come away from the videos and photos unscathed. The nearly six years of war in Syria have produced so much destruction to the country’s society and so much unaccountability for the political leaders and commanders directing the bombing that one wonders whether the international system is broken beyond repair.

Is Japan Trying to Contain China?

Despite its extensive, multilayered economic relationship with China, the United States has moved gradually but inexorably over the past decade or so to put in place the building blocks of a policy to contain Chinese power. Washington has forged new security relationships with nations that were once regarded as less than friendly. India is the prime example. U.S. officials are not even especially subtle in their courtship of Delhi as a possible ally against Beijing.

Why the Battle for Mosul Could Become a Total Disaster

The long anticipated battle against the Islamic State (ISIS) in Mosul has now officially begun. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is already declaring that his country will “celebrate victory as one" because “Today I declare the start of these victorious operations to free you from the violence and terrorism of Daesh (ISIS).”  While his enthusiasm is understandable, early signs outside of Mosul already augur some troubling problems.

How U.S.-Saudi Relations Got So Twisted

There is something rotten in U.S.-Saudi relations. It was probably unreasonable to think that a hereditary monarchy founded on a very conservative interpretation of Islam would regularly make common cause with a constitutional republic committed to secularism and individual liberty. But an always-awkward relationship has grown testy over the past fifteen years, and taken an even more ugly turn over the last two or three.

Does America Really Need Overseas Bases?

In the ongoing debate over U.S. grand strategy, one of the key points of discussion is the strategic utility of permanently stationing American forces abroad. Overseas U.S. bases are often thought to be the frontline forces in any outbreak of conflict. We must continue to maintain an indefinite global military base presence, we are told, so that if conflict erupts in any critical region, our forces can get there quickly to stabilize the situation. But a forward-deployed posture has lost much of its operational value in terms of contingency responsiveness. 

3 Wars the Next President Must Avoid

With all of the process stories, rumors of Republicans bolting from the Trump campaign and ongoing revelations of Donald Trump’s history with women, it’s more than easy for Americans to overlook the most important question when deciding on which candidate would be a better commander-in-chief: would you be comfortable or confident in allowing this person to decide single-handedly whether to send young Americans to war?

The Pentagon Must Stop Abusing the War Budget

After years of claiming that the war budget has been limited to paying for the costs of foreign conflicts, the Pentagon has finally admitted that it has been using that account to pay for tens of billion of dollars in costs that have nothing to do with fighting wars.  This budget shell game has been particularly egregious in recent years, as the Pentagon has sought to evade the caps on non-war spending that were imposed by the Budget Control Act of 2011.