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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Samantha Power, U.S. Ambassador-designate to the UN, once dared to suggest deploying a peace-keeping force to Israel to protect the lives on both sides, an idea that infuriated the Israel Lobby and taught Power a lesson in how she must temper her views on human rights, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar notes.
The Western media likes its stories neat and tidy, enough time for correspondents to parachute in, do some stand-up reports and depart as quickly as the public’s attention span shifts. But a true understanding of events as complex as the Arab Spring may take years or decades to develop, says ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is pounding the war drums on Iran again, drawing support from the usual suspects in Washington’s think tank community and the media. The goal seems to be to derail prospects for negotiations with Iran and on the Palestinian dispute, notes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.
Some of our special stories in June, focusing on the dangers of truth-telling (from Gary Webb and Daniel Ellsberg to Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning), a major turn in the 1980 October Surprise case, and the Right’s dark history of racism.