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

The Rahm Problem

The latest drama over the White House's chief of staff and its record on national security is much ado about nothing.

(White House/Pete Souza)
Barack Obama's presidential campaign had few leaks and little infighting, earning it the reputation of "no drama." The same spirit has mostly carried through into Obama's governing phase -- we've heard very little about whatever fights have occurred inside the White House. But that's changed lately, most notably with two salvos in The Washington Post -- one nominally an opinion column from Dana Milbank and the other nominally a news piece from Jason Horowitz -- both arguing that Obama wouldn't have so many political problems if he had only listened to Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel's advice. The pieces are doubly stunning. First, because they appear to have been planted by Emanuel or his close allies -- it's rare to see a Washington figure trying to portray himself as lacking vast power and influence. But second, and more important, because both dwell at length on the alleged roots of a problem that's not a problem at all -- the public's view of Obama's handling of national security...

No Need to Sacrifice

American foreign policy has never been independent of politics, but in recent years, politics has come first.

Former President George W. Bush on Friday, Dec. 26, 2008 at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Arsenal of Democracy: The Politics of National Security - From World War II to the War on Terrorism by Julian E. Zelizer, Basic Books, 583 pages, $35.00 American politics and American foreign policy partake heavily of certain pieties. At the intersection of the two one finds above all the piety that they should not intersect. Politics, as the saying goes, ought to stop at the water's edge. Except, as the historian Julian Zelizer demonstrates in his new book Arsenal of Democracy , things have never worked that way. Nor is it clear how they ever could if the United States is to remain both a democracy and a world power. Since the early decades of the 20th century, America has played an important role on the world stage. In order to do so, it has built a vast national-security apparatus -- including a far-flung military, global intelligence operations, and research into new weapons technologies -- whose extent and use are necessarily the subject of political controversy. Indeed, Zelizer'...

No Greek Revival

Greece's debt crisis just underscores that the European Union is only as strong as its weakest member.

An effigy of Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou dressed in a harlequin's costume during a protest in central Athens on Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2010. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
Europe's transformation from a war-torn wasteland into a rich, peaceful confederation of nations was one of the great political achievements of the 20th century. The 21st-century effort to broaden and deepen that project, through the expansion of the European Union and the more robust political integration of its members, is one of the most ambitious efforts of our own time. The result is the world’s largest economic area and a continent that features a kinder, gentler social model than the one prevailing on this side of the Atlantic. In a number of ways, this united body has weathered the economic downturn better than the United States. But as the recession drags on, the EU’s underlying approach is showing some serious flaws—experienced most acutely as a crisis over the Greek budget deficit—and threatening both the viability of the EU and the global economy as a whole. The EU's problem is currently manifesting itself as a series of looming debt crises in Portugal, Ireland, Greece,...

The Real Chinese Threat

The Quadrennial Defense Review's treatment of China isn't just dull -- it's tone deaf.

President Barack Obama with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao. (White House/Pete Souza)
Pretty much everyone agrees that China is the only nation with any chance of challenging American military superiority in the foreseeable future. So it's awfully strange that the Department of Defense's new Quadrennial Defense Review has little to say about the country. Explicit discussion is mostly limited to a single paragraph atop page 60, which begins with the banal observation that "China's growing presence and influence in regional and global economic and security affairs is one of the most consequential aspects of the evolving strategic landscape in the Asia-Pacific region and globally." The Defense Department then reaches the banal conclusion that our two countries "should sustain open channels of communication to discuss disagreements in order to manage and ultimately reduce the risks of conflict that are inherent in any relationship as broad and complex as that shared by these two nations." Dull, dull stuff. But beyond being boring, these kinds of considerations are...

Helping Haiti Beyond the Disaster

The recent earthquakes have captured the world's attention. But looking beyond aid will make a difference over the long haul.

Leogane, Haiti, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2010. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
While political junkies have been transfixed by the election results out of Massachusetts, the world remains transfixed on Haiti, battered by an earthquake that's estimated to have killed about 200,000 people out of a population of 10 million. The international community has mobilized aggressively to respond, with vast sums for relief already raised through private charity ($10 million from the Red Cross alone) and with governments and international organizations sending hundreds of millions more. Initially, logistical bottlenecks made it difficult to actually distribute assistance, deepening the crisis, but the deployment of thousands of foreign troops (mostly American) is beginning to alleviate that problem, albeit too late for many Haitians. But as the world contemplates the situation beyond the immediate crisis, it should come to the realization that the situation facing Haiti is likely even worse than it appears at first glance. The essence of the problem is not only that the...

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