Tag Archive for Paul R. Pillar

How Congress Overlooked NSA Spying

Edward Snowden’s leaks about the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs might have been avoided if more members of Congress had done their duty to stay informed about these classified activities, rather than get distracted by the fluff of politics, says ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

The ‘Do-Something’ Myth in Syria

A common refrain in Official Washington is that President Obama should have intervened militarily in Syria’s civil war and that somehow that would have solved the problem. But there’s no reason to think that U.S. meddling would do much good, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar explains.

Scoring Points Over a Terror Threat

Though it’s summer, Official Washington’s factionalism never takes a vacation. The neocons are in workaholic mode, claiming the precautionary closure of some U.S. embassies proves al-Qaeda remains a major threat, despite the fact that no terror attack has actually happened, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar observes.

Iran’s Objection to Double Standards

Double standards abound in how the West treats Iran’s nuclear program, most notably the silence about Israel’s undeclared nuclear arsenal. Iran has not built a single bomb and accepts nuclear inspections, yet it is the one confronted with threats of war, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar observes.

Who’s to Blame for NSA Excesses?

After a terrorist attack – like Benghazi or the Boston Marathon – the press, pols and much of the public decry the failure to prevent the violence, but the mood shifts amid disclosures of intrusive means to counter threats. This ambivalence can put government officials in an impossible spot, says ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

Israel-Palestine, Hope Against Hope

Getting Israelis and Palestinians to the negotiating table may be a diplomatic accomplishment but it can’t be an end in itself. And while no one has lost money betting against an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, there are some reasons that the odds are better this time, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar notes.

Sending the Wrong Signals on Iran

Tough-guy-ism is still a powerful ideology in the U.S. Congress, where House members just voted to ratchet up sanctions on Iran even as its new leadership is eager to reach an accommodation with the West on its nuclear program. This behavior raises questions in Iran about America’s real goal, writes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

Brushing Aside the Rule of Law

President George W. Bush famously mocked questions about international law with fake horror and the response, “I better call my lawyer!” But the rule of law is under broader assault within the U.S. government, now centered on whether to call Egypt’s military coup a coup, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar writes.

US, China Contend with Resentment

Americans like to be liked and are often perplexed why so many people around the world “hate us.” Some of that comes from specific policies like support for Israel and  drone strikes, but there’s also the resentment toward big-power arrogance, a problem that is arising for China, too, says ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

Contrasting Views on US Nobility

Official Washington’s pundit class has renewed its op-ed barrage for a more robust U.S. intervention in Syria, citing the need to protect human rights. But many people around the world don’t share that view of noble American motives, including the Afghans who have some experience, notes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.