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

Another War We Didn't Want

Obama made a mistake going into Libya, and we won't accomplish much there.

(AP Photo/Hassan Ammar) A rebel fighter stands by as they fire a Grad rocket towards pro-Moammar Gadhafi forces at the front line west of Misrata, Libya.
America's many military commitments can produce a fair degree of agenda crowding -- this week's war, it seems, is Afghanistan. But last week, the White House finally produced a legal theory explaining why it was okay that our forces are still engaged in hostilities in Libya without congressional authorization, even though the 60-day window permitted by the War Powers Resolution has expired and his authority is now being challenged. This news served to obscure the genuinely more important question of the overall merits of the Libya intervention, an operation the case for which looks increasingly weak. On war powers, the administration's theory ( generated over the objection of several key administration lawyers ) is that these hostilities aren't actually hostilities, largely because American troops' lives aren't at risk. Instead, the United States is merely providing logistical support to a NATO mission while deploying some unmanned drones to drop the occasional bomb. Most legal...

Governing Beyond His Means

Rep. Paul Ryan's foreign policy ideas are sensible, but his budget would make implementing them impossible.

(Flickr/Gage Skidmore)
When I saw that Rep. Paul Ryan, the GOP budget guru who's led the charge for Medicare repeal, was planning a major address on foreign policy, my hopes were not high. Indeed, the speech he delivered last Thursday offered its fair share of nonsense, partisanship, and ideological ax-grinding. But in some respects, Ryan's core ideas about international relations were refreshingly sensible. For all his repeated claims that American international decline "is a choice" that policy-makers must resist, however, his speech also doubled down on budget ideas that make decline inevitable. Under the guise of preserving America's military strength, Ryan would gut our economy over the long run by weakening our physical infrastructure and disinvesting in the human beings who are our greatest asset. Consequently, even as Ryan, who has emerged as the new intellectual leader of the Republican Party, is pushing the GOP in a sensible direction on international relations, he's seeking to force the country...

Friends Without Benefits

The U.S. is Israel's BFF, but the feeling isn't mutual.

(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said a lot of things in his address to a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress on Tuesday, most of them foolish and some of them offensive. But one of his very first statements was among the most important: "Israel has no better friend than America," he claimed, "and America has no better friend than Israel." The former is accurate. The latter is absurd. Protecting Israel is a special project taken on by the United States. The reasons may be good and bad, but it's a burden we undertake. Israel does us no favors and is no use to us. Recognizing that fact hardly solves the decades-long Arab-Israeli conflict, but it ought to be the starting point for what Americans should debate--not Israel's policy toward its Palestinian subjects but America's policy toward Israel. It's not actually clear which country is truly America's best friend. A traditional answer cites the United Kingdom, former colonial overlord turned key partner in world wars and in...

It's Time to Leave Afghanistan

We've achieved all of the aims laid out by George W. Bush in our post-9/11 military action.

Former President George W. Bush (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File)
When the United States launched its post-September 11 military actions against Afghanistan, the George W. Bush administration issued to the Taliban a set of demands. The Taliban refused to comply, so we went to war. The conventional wisdom has been that the war isn't going well, but the death last week of Osama bin Laden is just the latest and most definitive sign that it's a war we've actually already won. Revisiting the demands Bush issued shows that we've achieved our main aims, and we can and should move expeditiously to reduce our military involvement there. Here are Bush's original demands: "Deliver to U.S. authorities all the leaders of al-Qaeda that hide in your land." "Release all foreign national including American citizens you have unjustly imprisoned." "Protect all journalists, diplomats, and aid workers in your country." "Close immediately and permanently every terrorist training camp in Afghanistan and hand over every terrorist and every person in their support structure...

Ben Bernanke Makes History, Not News

At the first-ever press conference by a sitting head of the Fed, reporters asked all but the most important question.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke speaks during a news conference at the Federal Reserve in Washington, Wednesday, April 27, 2011. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Ben Bernanke made history Wednesday by delivering the first-ever on-the-record press conference by an incumbent Federal Reserve Chairman. Unfortunately, he didn't make any news. Nobody really expected the Chairman to announce a dramatic new initiative to spark economic growth and restore health to the labor market, but hope springs eternal. All we got in terms of policy was a bland statement earlier in the day noting that the Fed would be phasing out its "quantitative easing initiative" -- the Treasury bond-buying program intended to pump money into the economy -- and that the central bank would keep interest rates at zero. We also got an updated set of economic projections from the Fed, and the outlook is bleak. The Fed says that real GDP growth over the next few years should be in the 2.8 to 3.2 percent range. That's a decent number for an economy that's healthy enough to provide jobs to those who need them, a condition known in economics as "full employment." But, of course, that's...

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