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

It's Not Iran; It's Palestine

Israeli consensus on priorities is dangerously out of line with reality.

I had the opportunity a couple of weeks ago to have dinner with Mustafa Barghouti, a Palestinian physician, politician, and advocate of nonviolent resistance to Israeli occupation and a two-state settlement of the conflict. His message was the same as that from every other moderate in the Arab world, but it was powerful to hear it in person -- the clock is running out on the two-state solution, by far the most humane and practical possible resolution to the dilemma. But with every passing day of Israeli occupation and every additional Israeli settler, the idea of a negotiated settlement seems less -and -less credible to the Palestinian population, while Palestinian demands for basic rights and human dignity become no less urgent. Nobody on the Arab side likes to get very explicit about what happens next, but one can envision two possibilities. The first would be that the Palestinians embark upon an ethical, restrained, nonviolent campaign to demand rights of citizenship equal with...

Time for a Global Stimulus

The world needs a coordinated response to the current economic crisis, in which each country commits to undertake stimulus that's appropriate to the size of its economy and to its position in the global balance of trade.

Back during the dread Clinton years of peace and prosperity, it was taken for granted that in a world of globalized economies, international economics was bound to be an important part of the foreign-policy portfolio. During the Bush years, that kind of thing took a back seat to the "hard" security issues of terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Such concerns are still with us, of course, along with the two problematic and mismanaged wars that Bush has handed off to his successor. But even though economic problems tend to make public attention turn inward, the reality is that it's bad economic times more than good ones that call for sustained attention to the economics of international relations. Looming behind the sharp downturn in demand the Obama administration's stimulus package is supposed to address is the ominous shadow of global trade imbalances. In other words, not only have individual Americans been spending more money than they've been earning, the...

Getting Rid of the "War on Terror" Mindset

The Obama administration marks the beginning of the end of the war in Iraq. But it's less clear what it means for the larger "war on terror."

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband (AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade)
The notion of a "war on terror" is a controversial one—British Foreign Secretary David Miliband recently critiqued it for giving the impression of a "unified, transnational enemy." Will Obama discard the phrase? The inauguration of Barack Obama clearly augurs the beginning of the end of America's disastrous war in Iraq. Less clear is what it means for the larger conceptual framework in which the war is embedded, the so-called "war on terror" of which the Iraq war, in the Bush administration's formulation, is but one "battle." The phrase has long been a controversial one in foreign-policy precincts, and momentum for its abolition is clearly building, as reflected in the Jan. 15 proclamation by British Foreign Secretary David Miliband that it should never have been adopted since it "gave the impression of a unified, transnational enemy, embodied in the figure of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda" when "the reality is that the motivations and identities of terrorist groups are disparate."...

How the U.S. Should Be Involved in Gaza

Absent external pressure, the internal logic of politics tends to point toward momentary conflict escalating out of control. But playing that role effectively requires political commitment.

Back before I took off for a winter holiday -- and before the outbreak of fighting between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip -- I was planning to write this column on the behind-the-scenes tussle over whether either Dennis Ross or Daniel Kurtzer will be appointed as special envoy for the Middle East peace process. As Scott MacLeod wrote for Time 's Middle East blog , "Ross would represent the past, which is to say the failure of U.S. policy in the region; Kurtzer would represent a change -- a subtle change perhaps, but change nonetheless -- given his frank acknowledgment of what has gone wrong with U.S. policy and a commonsense prescription for getting it right." Events have largely superseded that tussle as a column topic. However, the current fighting in Gaza is a reminder of the importance of finding a better approach to the Israeli Palestinian conflict. But thinking about what a better approach would consist of is a reminder that putting the right personnel in place is no...

How Bush Failed Somalia

Two years ago the United States intervened in East African politics in a way that has created the pirate problem and is breeding a new generation of anti-American jihadists.

Americans don't spend much time thinking about Somalia. And what time we do spend has in recent months been focused on somewhat amused accounts of the uptick in pirate activity off the Somali coast. But the piracy is but a symptom of the larger problem of lawlessness and anarchy in Somalia. To Americans who have paid no attention to East Africa in the time between the departure of U.S. forces from Somalia in 1995 and the recent spate of pirate attacks, this situation may appear merely endemic to the region. But it's not. The Somali situation was, in many ways, improving as of two years ago. At which point the Bush administration initiated a new adventure that, like most Bush administration deeds, was ill-conceived and worked out poorly. In this case, it destroyed the country, has been responsible for the deaths of untold thousands of people, has created the pirate problem, and is breeding a new generation of anti-American jihadists. And nobody in the United States seems to have...

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