The Vietnam War may seem like ancient history to many Americans, but that destructive conflict holds important lessons for the present, especially the danger of “group think” driving foreign policy and the value of insights that clash with conventional wisdom, says ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.
President Obama rebranded the “global war on terror” the “war on Al Qaeda,” but his counterterrorism strategy hews closely to President George W. Bush’s, as the U.S. joins conflicts in Yemen and elsewhere that have little connection to the 9/11 attacks, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar writes.
As talks on Iran’s nuclear program resume in Moscow, the United States and Western powers are showing little willingness to pull back on economic sanctions, even in exchange for Iran’s suspension of its higher refinement of uranium. Ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar suggests looking at the issue from the Iranian side.
Dissolution of Egypt’s parliament and doubts about the upcoming presidential election have undermined the country’s once-promising transition to democracy. Now the question is, can any likely outcome justify the hopes of last year’s Arab Spring, asks ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.
Led by the neocons, a growing chorus of Washington pols and pundits are clamoring for President Obama to “do something” militarily to remove the Assad regime from power in war-torn Syria. But the real-life options remain fraught with risk, says ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.
President Obama has taken personal command over lethal drone strikes against alleged al-Qaeda operatives in Yemen and other countries. To some, this is an inappropriate use of presidential power. But ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar sees some benefit in Obama accepting direct responsibility.
The Washington Post and other neocon outlets are demanding an ever harder line against Iran in negotiations over its nuclear program. Yet, so far, the West has offered little in exchange for Iran’s concessions, writes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.
So far, the West is taking a hard line in talks with Iran, responding to its concessions on its nuclear program with only modest rewards and, indeed, with new threats of sanctions. U.S. politicians, in particular, are bending to Israeli demands for either Iranian capitulation or war, a worry to ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.
Israel has subjected thousands of Palestinians to detention without trial, a tactic that finally provoked a hunger strike and at least modest concessions from Israeli authorities regarding prison conditions, as described by ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.
By definition, “terrorism” applies to attacks on civilians for political ends. But the U.S. government has revised the term to cover any attack on Americans, including soldiers fighting anywhere in the world, a misuse of the concept that is hampering a deal to free a U.S. POW, writes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.