The Skeptics

$400 Million to Iran: The Facts on an Overblown Story

Thanks to the Wall Street Journal, politicos, White House reporters, and the State Department press corps are talking about something other than the 2016 presidential election. But to the Obama administration's great regret, the story has nothing to do with a diplomatic triumph or a Supreme Court victory; instead, it's about $400 million in cash being loaded into an unmarked plane and sent to Iran at roughly the same time five American hostages were released by the Iranian Government.

3 Keys to the Neocons' Plan B on Trump

July 21 was the most important day of Donald Trump's brief career as a politician. Thirteen months after he first announced his intention to run for President of the United States against snickers from the Republican establishment and eye-rolls from Democrats who thought the entire ordeal was an elaborate bid for self-promotion, Trump stood on the stage in front of thousands of GOP delegates and formally accepted the party's nomination for president.

Is a Rational American Foreign Policy Even Possible?

“Eight years in Washington left me with considerable pessimism about the capability of the U.S. policy elites—Democrat as well as Republican—to carry out radical changes in policy if these required real civic courage and challenges to powerful domestic constituencies or dominant national myths.” Anatol Lieven wrote those words in The National Interest just as Barack Obama was about to be inaugurated.

South Korea Must Learn to Defend Itself—Without America

Despite the success of America’s post–World War II policy, its advocates act as if it is an abysmal failure. Consider analyst Khang Vu’s argument for continuing to treat the Republic of Korea as a helpless dependent. No matter that the Seoul took advantage of Washington’s defense shield to develop into one of the world’s most important, largest and advanced economies. The United States must continue to protect South Korea from the latter’s decrepit northern neighbor.

The Turkish Coup Wasn't an Inside Job

It is a whodunit worthy of Agatha Christie. Several theories have been floated as to who was responsible for the failed Turkish coup of July 15. One theory points to the CIA as the instigator of the coup. This argument is based on the conjecture that Washington had come to believe that President Erdoğan was becoming too big for his boots and ignoring American concerns in the strategically important Middle East, especially in relation to the war against ISIS, where, among other things, he was opposed to American cooperation with the Kurdish PYD in Syria.

The Democrats' Three-Way Split on Foreign Policy

The Democrats in Philadelphia aren’t doing any better than the Republicans at promoting an image of unity. So far no one can make it through a speech without interruption from the Sanders supporters. The clash between Clinton and Sanders has for the most part been framed as disagreements over economic and welfare policy. But one overlooked division stems from a rising dissatisfaction with the foreign-policy vision of Clinton and other Democratic elites.

The One Thing No One Wants to Talk About in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA—Here at the Democratic National Convention this week, so far I’ve heard discussions on a range of topics, from energy, to housing, to criminal justice reform. The solutions to these problems are fairly typical for the modern Democratic Party, with a kick of extra leftism thrown in for good measure. Hillary Clinton surrogates on the panels around town, for example, routinely talk about how the Democratic platform is the most progressive in the party’s history, a clear signal to Bernie Sanders supporters to cool it.

The Future of U.S. Primacy: Power to Lead, But No Longer to Command

U.S. policy makers have to adjust from the power to command to the power to lead—from mostly coercive power to mostly strategic planning and maneuvering. America simply lacks the relative military and economic power it enjoyed in the twentieth century. Equally critical to understand, most international conflicts and problems now occur within nations more than between nations. Terrorists and civil wars are much more elusive military targets than troops fighting in battalions.