Tag Archive for Paul R. Pillar

Is Government Inept or Sinister?

George Orwell's image of Big Brother.

The image of a bumbling government, fumbling the Healthcare.gov rollout, clashes with the image of NSA running a terrifying Big Brother dystopia. But these sharp contrasts often reflect the viewer’s opinions – or political needs – more than the shaded realities, says ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

Keeping War Hopes Alive on Iran

Secretary of State John Kerry arriving in Paris on Jan. 12, 2014, for diplomatic meetings on the Middle East. (State Department photo)

The Israel Lobby and the many U.S. politicians in its thrall keep trying to sink President Obama’s negotiations limiting Iran’s nuclear program and thus keep hope alive for another Mideast war. But progress toward an agreement keeps moving forward, notes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

Robert Gates’s Blame-Shifting Memoir

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

A core myth about Robert Gates was that he was an “adult” who would bring wisdom and order to the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama. But the reality was always different as his score-settling memoir reveals, writes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

Israel’s Elusive Search for Security

President Obama speaks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outside the White House on May 20, 2011 (White House photo by Pete Souza)

Israel has made its security the sin qua non of negotiations with the Palestinians, including insistence on military control of the Jordan River valley. But these escalating demands ignore questions of Palestinian security and the greater risk to Israel – from worldwide opprobrium, says ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

Bush’s Anti-American Legacy

President George W. Bush in a flight suit after landing on the USS Abraham Lincoln to give his "Mission Accomplished" speech about the Iraq War.

As Iraq becomes a hotbed for al-Qaeda terrorism, President George W. Bush’s legacy grows even dimmer. But one could argue that he did succeed in stirring democratic impulses in the region, albeit mostly of an anti-American variety, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar describes.

Israel Lobby Takes Aim at Iran Deal

Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Illinois.

Official Washington’s neocons are still trying to derail a negotiated settlement with Iran over its nuclear program by imposing new sanctions and thus putting the U.S. on a course for war – as favored by Israel’s Likud. But this reality is hiding behind sophistry, says ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

The More Complex Truth of Benghazi

President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton honor the four victims of the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, at the Transfer of Remains Ceremony held at Andrews Air Force Base, Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, on Sept. 14, 2012. [State Department photo)

The single-minded Republican drive to exploit the deaths of four U.S. diplomats in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012 – and use the tragedy to embarrass President Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – has obscured the more complex reality of what happened, writes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

US-Turkey Diplomatic Strains

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Turkey’s moderate Islamist government has charted a foreign policy path that has both coincided with and diverged from the Obama administration’s strategies, especially on the Syrian conflict and the Egyptian military coup, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar explains.

How Boycotts Can Help Israel

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (center at a cabinet meeting).

When South Africa was ruled by white supremacists and faced boycotts, Pretoria’s defense was that many black-ruled African states were worse and apartheid shouldn’t be singled out. Now, Israel is advancing a similar argument, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar notes.

Wisdom in Restraint on Syria

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in front of a poster of his father, Hafez al-Assad.

The neocons are still beating the drums for U.S. military intervention in Syria, now supposedly for humanitarian reasons. But – as horrific as the Syrian violence is – it’s clear that President Obama’s restraint last summer averted making the mess even worse, says ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.