The Skeptics

North Korea Is Starting to Look Like the Ottoman Empire

Kim Jong-nam, the older half-brother of North Korea’s young leader, Kim Jong-un, died at Kuala Lumpur airport while preparing to leave for Macau. He reportedly was injected or sprayed with poison by two unidentified women, presumed to be North Korean agents. If true, it seems Kim Jong-un is tying up loose ends, eliminating a family heir who might have been used to legitimize a successor regime.

How Donald Trump Can Avoid Playing into North Korea's Hands

A new U.S. administration has taken office, so a new provocation has been staged by Pyongyang. Predictably, America and its allies have denounced North Korea for defying the “international community.” And Washington is filled with chatter about the need to do something to demonstrate resolve and leadership.

It’s a foolish game that the North enjoys. Why do U.S. officials continue to play?

America Has Nothing to Lose in Talking to North Korea

If Iran’s ballistic missile launch two weeks ago was a prime opportunity for President Donald Trump to sound tough and resolute, North Korea’s testing of an intermediate range missile over the weekend was the first time that the forty-fifth president had to deal with a crisis during the late hours of the night—at his vacation home, no less.

Why Trumpism Worries Foreign-Policy Wonks

President Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric raised hopes that he might pursue a less interventionist U.S. foreign policy. Trump was the only truth-teller on the Iraq War in the Republican primary. He mainstreamed the issue of low contributions by allies to the American defense network, which hitherto was mostly a debate among foreign-policy wonks. He talked of avoiding foolish wars. He intuitively grasped the disconnect between the insouciant belligerence of neoconservative and Washington-based U.S.

Welcome to the Foreign Policy "Reassurance Tour"

Donald Trump’s often sharp criticism of U.S. allies during the 2016 presidential campaign gave some hope to even jaded realists that his administration might make significant changes in Washington’s ossified security policy. Those hopes, cautious as they were, are fading fast. The initial weeks of the Trump administration suggest a continuation of the status quo with few, if any, modifications. For all the rhetoric about “America First,” the new president’s foreign policy thus far looks a lot like what his predecessors pursued.

Donald Trump Should Give Diplomacy with North Korea a Chance

It seems like the North Korean version of “strategic patience” is working for Pyongyang and not for Washington, DC. The policy of “strategic patience” under the Obama administration was designed to change Pyongyang’s attitude toward denuclearization, but North Korea’s latest and most powerful nuclear test, conducted in early September 2016, has increased the sense of urgency in Washington to do something.

America Has Too Many Military Bases

Members of Congress have a hard time agreeing on virtually anything, and they’re already butting heads with the new president. But one issue should unite them: a new initiative to shrink the Pentagon’s massive overhead.

President Trump and Secretary of Defense James Mattis have pledged to cut waste. And key leaders in Congress have renewed their calls for rationalizing the Pentagon’s base structure. Now is the time for Congress to come together, put the national interest over parochial interests and finally support a new round of base closings.

Secretary Mattis Should Stop Babying South Korea

Candidate Donald Trump caused tremors in South Korea when he criticized America’s security commitment. Although far wealthier and more populous than the North, Seoul has grown comfortable being protected by Washington. The possibility of having to do more in their own defense shocked South Koreans who preferred to invest their money elsewhere for fun and profit.