The Skeptics

We Defeat ISIS. Then What?

A consensus has emerged in the American political community (throughout both its GOP and Democratic branches) that the United States can and should obliterate ISIS. The implicit (and sometimes explicit) assumption that inflicting a crushing defeat on the terrorist organization will solve most of our major problems in the region. For realists, this creates an eerie sense of déjà vu. We have encountered such unrealistic, often downright magical, thinking all too often before, with extremely unpleasant results.

What Difference Will 10,000 Troops Make in Afghanistan?

It has been a common refrain since America’s armored bashing of Saddam Hussein in Desert Storm that the United States has the greatest military in the history of the world. Aside from being questionable in its accuracy, this hubristic belief among American political leaders and opinion makers reveals a deeply flawed understanding of what combat power can actually achieve. It also exposes a troubling difficulty many have with understanding the difference between strategy and tactics.

How to Spot an Iran Nuclear Deal Violation

For President Barack Obama and his national security team, this past July, August, and September were some of the most consequential for the administration’s foreign policy legacy. It was in these three short months where the Obama administration’s signature foreign policy achievement of his second term, the successful completion of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, was being actively debated, kicked around and criticized by members of Congress.

The Taliban's Return Is the Opposite of 'Victory'

It has been a common refrain among defense and foreign policy opinion makers over the years to warn that if the U.S. doesn’t maintain a muscular foreign policy, it “sends a message of weakness” to our enemies and puts our security at risk. The stark and increasingly undeniable evidence, however, exposes the truth to be quite the opposite. Such arguments are tantamount to saying with sincerity that the best way to put out a house fire is by dousing it with gasoline.