Matthew Yglesias

Matthew Yglesias is a senior editor at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, a former Prospect staff writer, and the author of Heads in the Sand: How the Republicans Screw Up Foreign Policy and Foreign Policy Screws Up the Democrats.

Recent Articles

Denial Island

National-security concerns aren't the only reason -- or even the best reason -- to worry about the climate crisis. But they are real.

The Carteret Islands, a somewhat outlying atoll off the coast of Papua New Guinea, don't normally attract much attention. But it's a shame more people weren't paying attention in late April when a lone blogger, Dan Box, was on hand to witness the beginning of the islands' evacuation. It's a small atoll, you see, and relatively low-lying. Sea levels are rising. Flooding is increasing. And even though the island is still there, it's no longer habitable: "King tides have washed away their crops and rising sea levels poisoned those that remain with salt,"wrote Box. These days, in other words, sometimes the high tide gets so high it buries the farmland, and even when it doesn't, the salt permeates the soil. So 2,600 people need to move. Realistically, the Carteret Islanders aren't actually the world's first climate-change refugees. Untold numbers of people have already moved as shifting weather patterns eliminate the viability of agricultural or pastoral lifestyles in certain regions of...

Do Conservatives Understand Torture?

Conservatives don't actually support torture. They just think it's a useful tool. Too bad they're wrong.

The current conservative line on the forms of torture used by the Bush administration -- from waterboarding to stress positions that produce "muscle fatigue" that manages not to rise to the level of "severe pain" -- leads to an obvious question. Why don't we do more of it? According to the right, this kind of physical and psychological torment doesn't meet the standard for illegal torture. And according to the right, it's also highly effective at producing information. And a legal, highly effective method of acquiring information from prisoners or captives sounds like a useful thing indeed. It seems to me that people who genuinely believe this stuff -- those who, like moral cretin and Weekly Standard blogger Michael Goldfarb want to call torturers "American heroes" and make light of waterboarding by calling it "dunking" -- ought to believe in making its use widespread. And yet somehow, I don't hear the calls. I don't hear the calls for a waterboarding apparatus in every American...

The First Cut Is the Deepest

We should be paying attention to the very real cuts Secretary Gates has proposed to outdated, oversized Cold War-era projects.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates answers questions about the budget during a press briefing at the U.S. State Department on April 9, 2009. (AP Photo/U.S. Air Force, Master Sgt. Jerry Morrison)
A funny thing happened on the road to the 2010 Department of Defense budget request; the president and the secretary of defense ordered a 4 percent increase in spending and found conservatives lambasting them for "cuts" in the budget. Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma even characterized the increase in spending as aimed at "disarming" America. Brian Beutler of Talking Points Memo has been cataloguing the right's distortions assiduously, and he's been a busy man. Rep. Tom Price of Georgia said, "The only place the president is willing to cut spending is on the armed forces." Politico reported on "sweeping defense cuts" without mentioning the larger offsetting defense increases. John McHugh of New York just made up a number and decided that the increase in spending "would amount to $8 billion in cuts in defense spending." The origins of the nonsense appear to lie in a budgetary ambush planned by the Pentagon back in October, when it outlined "a new estimate for defense spending that is $450...

Why Are Democrats Undermining Obama's Diplomatic Plans for Iran?

The members of Congress calling for the United States to set a time table for Iran to suspend its uranium-enrichment program are missing the point.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer was among the democrats who sent a letter to Obama concerning Iran's nuclear weapons program.(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Throughout a record-length presidential campaign, Barack Obama -- first in the primaries, and then in the general election -- stood firmly behind his view that the United States of America needs to make a serious effort at good-faith negotiations with Iran in order to resolve the dispute over Iran's nuclear activities and help stabilize the region. Now with the attempt to put that agenda in practice just barely beginning, efforts are already underway to quietly kill it. Consider a letter sent this weekend by a powerful group of House Democrats -- Steny Hoyer, Howard Berman, Ike Skelton, Silvestre Reyes, Henry Waxman, Gary Ackerman, and Robert Wexler. Any engagement, they argue, should come only with the agreement that Iran "must verifiably suspend its uranium enrichment program within at most a few months of the initiation of the discussions." While this would be nice, it's not a realistic outcome. It's far from clear that the United States could get Iran to eschew uranium enrichment...

Against Surge Logic

Why do we need another surge in Afghanistan? Because we've done nothing but resort to surges in the past.

Today, the conventional wisdom in the United States is that the so-called "surge" in Iraq has been a stunning success, and its critics have been discredited. That's why surgeniks Max Boot, Frederick Kagan, and Kimberly Kagan can smugly write in the March 13 New York Times things like, "Make no mistake: there is hard, costly fighting ahead in Afghanistan. But the fight is worth pursuing, and the odds of success are much better than they were in Iraq when we launched the forlorn hope known as the surge." At the same time, the conventional wisdom in the United States also holds that the situation in Afghanistan has become quite dire. That's why Boot, Kagan, and Kagan are advocating a new surge for Afghanistan. Even more, the conventional wisdom is that the situation has become dire in large part because we've barely been trying in Afghanistan. As the three write, "The main challenge is to overcome years of chronic neglect in terms of economic development, government services and above...