The Skeptics

MANPADS Myths in Libya

C.J. Chivers's excellent post for the New York Times’s “At War” blog dispels the widely reported contention that the Libyan weapons stockpiles looted amidst last year’s fighting included shoulder-launched SA-24 air-defense missile systems. The post explains that while Libya did acquire SA-24s, they were not the shoulder-launched or MANPADS (man-portable air-defense systems) variety.

535 Secretaries of State

Congress, especially the GOP-controlled House of Representatives, has become hyperactive on the foreign-policy front in recent weeks. In rapid succession, the House passed two important amendments to the defense-authorization bill, both of which have the potential to cause major complications for U.S. diplomacy in East Asia.

Negotiations with Iran: What Has Changed?

On May 23, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (P5+1) will enter into talks with the Iranian leadership about the latter’s nuclear program. The Baghdad talks come after talks last month in Istanbul. A number of observers have raised expectations for the talks in Baghdad.

NATO Summit Will Reaffirm Afghanistan’s Weakness

The focus of the upcoming NATO summit in Chicago will be Afghanistan. President Obama is expected to speak of the need for solidarity from the international community. His only major success will be a pledge from NATO members to commit funds to Afghanistan well beyond 2014. Difficult questions surrounding the mission’s long-term sustainability will remain unanswered. But any long-term plan for stabilization must put Afghans in the lead. That is the country’s true path to self-sufficiency.

Euro 2012 and the Price of Repression

Ukraine has suffered a tortured post-Soviet independence. Its second president, Leonid Kuchma, was accused of ordering the murder of an opposition journalist. Kuchma’s successor, Viktor Yushchenko, was pro-Western but utterly ineffective, even incompetent.

Rough Seas Ahead for Navy’s Surface Fleet?

In its markup of the National Defense Authorization Act, the House Armed Services Committee proposed a number of changes to the Obama administration’s plans for the U.S. Navy. The NDAA rescinds the retirement of three cruisers and restricts retirement of ballistic-missile submarines (so as not to fall below a minimum of twelve). The bill also contains an amendment which authorizes a GAO review of the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program.

New Paper Argues for Immediate, Practical Cuts in Military Spending

A new report published today by the Project on Defense Alternatives argues for $17–$20 billion in immediate savings to the fiscal-year 2013 defense budget. I coauthored the report along with Benjamin Friedman of Cato and PDA’s Carl Conetta, Charles Knight and Ethan Rosenkranz. Those savings come from eighteen line items—personnel, weapons systems and programs—that could be implemented quickly. Adjustments to U.S.