American politicians like to show how tough they are by citing some disagreeable behavior by a disdained government and sponsoring sanctions legislation to punish that country. However, politics also make such laws hard to repeal even as circumstances change, ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar notes.
When the Democratic platform was initially silent on Jerusalem being Israel’s capital, Mitt Romney’s campaign pounced, questioning President Obama’s commitment to Israel and causing him to reinsert Jerusalem-as-capital language. But is this any way to deal with a complex foreign policy issue, asks ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.
Over the years, the U.S. “terrorism list” has become less an objective assessment of groups that use violence against civilians than an ideological battlefield littered with blatant hypocrisies and outdated hatreds. The list has even complicated strategies for reducing political violence, writes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.
Led by Egypt, key Muslim nations – also including Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran – are exploring ways to reduce the political violence in Syria, an initiative that upsets some in Washington because it represents an independent regional approach, observes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.
The failure to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has inevitably stoked animosities on both sides. But recent acts of violence and ugly comments inside Israel reveal that a culture of hatred and bigotry is taking root, warns ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.
President George W. Bush and his neocon advisers made much of mocking international law, with Bush once responding to a question in fake horror: “I better call my lawyer.” But the issue of the U.S. and its allies abiding by such laws is front and center again with Iran, notes Paul R. Pillar.
“Green on Blue” attacks in which Afghan soldiers kill their presumed allies, i.e. U.S. and NATO soldiers, have become a growing problem as the Afghan War drags on, closing in on its eleventh year, a warning sign for all long-term foreign occupations, says ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.
For decades, the debate about Israeli security has been far more robust in Israel than in the United States. The same holds true today as Israeli opposition leader Shaul Mofaz challenges the government’s bellicose rhetoric on Iran while U.S. politicians and pundits pander or stay silent, notes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.
Egypt’s moderate Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi, is picking his way through hot political coals as a new governing system rises from the embers of the old. But his ad hoc constitutionalism is not unprecedented; indeed, it is how the United States was forged, notes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.
In picking House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan for the vice presidential slot, Mitt Romney signaled a disinterest in filling his own gap in foreign policy experience – as well as a likely avoidance of international affairs as a major topic in the presidential race, observes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.