The Skeptics

Will Paul Ryan Lead Congress to a New War Authorization?

On Capitol Hill, as in life, it usually takes a strong-willed leader to compel a group of people to get things done. In Congress, finding that kind of leadership can be an immensely difficult thing to do. Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives don’t have a habit of coming together on politically controversial subjects important for the country. Indeed, John Boehner’s resignation as Speaker of the House last fall is illustrative of how high the cost of leadership can be: the loss of one’s job.

Will El Chapo’s Capture Really Disrupt the Flow of Drugs?

The capture of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera, the notorious head of the Sinaloa drug cartel, by Mexican marines has triggered euphoria in both Washington and Mexico City. Guzman’s escape last year from Mexico’s highest security prison (the second time in a little more than a decade that he had accomplished that feat) had been an acute embarrassment to Mexican political leaders, and they are anxious to put that episode behind them. Their U.S. counterparts are equally eager to get custody of Guzman through the extradition process.

Living Dangerously on Both Sides of the Taiwan Strait

During the Cold War the People’s Republic of China lobbed artillery shells at nearby islands controlled by the U.S.-supported Republic of China, based on Taiwan. Twenty years ago the PRC shot missiles into nearby waters to discourage Taiwanese support for independence-minded candidates. Neither policy aided Beijing’s objective of reunification.

The Long Battle for Mosul: Is Iraq Ready?

Last month Iraqi forces successfully retook Ramadi after it had been in the hands of the Islamic State (ISIS) for more than a year. It was the first major victory for the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) since ISIS swept the Iraqi Army from large sections of the country in 2014. The victory has justly lifted the morale of the ISF troops—hugely important in war. But next in the crosshairs is the city of Mosul. The stakes for both Baghdad and ISIS in the outcome of that fight are enormous. The task facing Iraq, however, is going to be more challenging than it will be for ISIS.

Persuading China to Cooperate Against North Korea

Another North Korean nuclear test, another round of demands that China bring Pyongyang to heel. Said Secretary of State John Kerry: Beijing’s policy “has not worked and we cannot continue business as usual.” Alas, his approach is worse than ineffective. It likely ensures that the PRC will ignore Washington’s wishes.

The Truth About Women in Ground Combat Roles

Women have long been an integral part of the U.S. military, having performed admirably—in some cases, heroically—in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. Over the past month and a half a succession of some of the nation’s most powerful civilian and military leaders have lauded the recent decision to remove all restrictions on what jobs women can fill in the U.S. Armed Forces. Lifting the ban, they say, will make the military stronger. They are wrong.

Obama Ramps Up Anti-ISIL ‘Messaging’ Surge

If there is one overarching foreign policy objective that President Barack Obama would like to accomplish before he departs the Oval Office in a year, it is the absolute and unquestioned defeat of the Islamic State—a terrorist quasi-state that has given his administration so much heartburn over the past sixteen months.  From the “J.V.