The Skeptics

An Old Nightmare Returns: The Balkans Simmer Again

One of the problems that emerges when U.S. officials and the news media are focused on a small number of foreign-policy issues is that troubling developments can occur below the radar in other areas. That appears to be happening in the Balkans, a region that was a foreign-policy priority of the Western powers in the 1990s, but which has faded to near invisibility in recent years.

Will the Russia Sanctions Bill Strip Trump of His Power?

It’s not everyday when Republicans and Democrats can hold together a dialogue over a period of months and come away with a good old-fashioned bipartisan piece of legislation. When they do, Washington and the rest of America rejoice. “Finally,” they may say, “the politicians that we send to Capitol Hill every two years are doing something constructive!”

Is Washington Backing the Wrong Side in the Iranian-Saudi Regional Feud?

A vicious feud between Iran and Saudi Arabia has been raging for years. The two governments support opposite sides of several civil wars, in what amounts to a regional power struggle between the Sunni and Shia branches of Islam. One might think that the United States would adopt a “plague on both their houses” attitude toward a quarrel between two repulsive, authoritarian regimes. Indeed, that policy would best serve genuine American interests.

Will Trump Survive Comey Day?

The hashtag #ComeyDay pretty much summed it up: the former FBI director’s testimony in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee on his personal interactions with President Trump and his running of the federal investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians during the 2016 presidential election was the talk of the town in Washington. Nothing else mattered—not the debt ceiling, not the Senate debate on arms sales to Saudi Arabia, or the sanctions bills on Russia that several congressional committees are trying to reconcile.

Manuel Noriega and the Fragility of America's Alliances

A man who was once known as one of the world’s most infamous and colorful dictators died after several months in a coma on May 29. Manuel Antonio Noriega, the general that pulled the strings of Panamanian politics for six years—the “pineapple-faced,” short, tough guy who liked to don his military uniform when addressing large crowds—passed away at the age of eighty-three.

Can Qatar Negotiate a Diplomatic Resolution with Its Neighbors?

Typically, when we speak about a national security or diplomatic crisis in the Middle East, the countries under the microscope are Iraq, Syria and Yemen—three nations whose economies are struggling, where war has created an extreme humanitarian crisis for its residents, whose citizenry are so divided that it’s difficult to call any of them nations.

This time, however, the national-security crisis concerns the Arab monarchies straddling the Persian Gulf, which is perhaps the only area of stability in a region that is anything but stable.