The sectarian rifts, which were opened by George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq, continue to tear apart the Middle East, now involving Syria and Lebanon. Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite militia, has plunged into Syria to fight Sunni-led rebels, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar notes.
President Obama offered a comprehensive review of U.S. counterterrorism policies since 9/11, while vowing to ratchet down the violence and acknowledging harm done to America’s principles and image. Still, many details of his plans remain fuzzy and follow-through far from certain, says ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.
Russia and the Obama administration have made some moves toward seeking a peace settlement in Syria, even as Russia bolsters its support for Bashar al-Assad’s embattled regime. But an obstacle has emerged as the deeply divided Syrian rebels balk at meeting with Assad’s representatives, ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar notes.
Without doubt, the U.S. government over-classifies national security information, hiding not just genuine secrets but policy debates and mistakes. This creates tensions for whistleblowers and journalists over what should be public. But there are legitimate concerns about leaking, says ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.
Many of the U.S. problems in Afghanistan stem from a misguided relationship with pro-Islamist elements of Pakistani intelligence dating back to the 1980s. But Pakistan’s recent election offers new hope if Official Washington can step back and see the bigger picture, writes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.
The Benghazi “scandal” has enabled congressional Republicans to keep their “base” worked up to a fever pitch, but the hyping of the controversy beyond all reason is doing real harm to U.S. national security by distracting officials from actual foreign policy problems, according to ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.
After World War II, U.S. prosecutors at the Nuremberg Tribunals deemed aggressive war the “supreme international crime” because it unpacked all the other evils of war. But Official Washington now treats U.S. invasions of “enemy” states as a topic for casual political discourse, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar notes.
The pro-Israel lobby has been so effective dominating U.S. policy toward the Middle East that the success, paradoxically, has made Washington increasingly irrelevant to the peace process. That has created a vacuum that China and other nations may try to fill, notes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.
Over the past two years of Arab unrest, only in Bahrain did a neighboring country (Saudi Arabia) invade militarily to put down a popular uprising – and did so without U.S. outrage because Bahrain is home to the Fifth Fleet. But the political injustice of Bahrain remains a regional sore point, writes ex-CIA analyst Paul…
Some of our special stories from April focused on the Boston Marathon bombings, the defeat of gun-sanity legislation, the latest research on the historical Jesus, and the political rehabilitation of George W. Bush.