Embarrassing America Before the World

Despite 15 years of war, foreign policy has rated only brief flurries of debate in Election 2016 with Hillary Clinton pushing a hawkish agenda and Donald Trump often incoherent, notes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

By Paul R. Pillar

The current election campaign has done more to set back U.S. foreign relations, and the cause of good foreign policy, than has any other American presidential election within memory. One reason is the overall sordid image of American democracy in action that is being projected to people around the world, and to governments with an interest in exploiting that image.

The ugly picture includes the amount of attention given — unsurprisingly and necessarily so, given the character, comments, and conduct of Donald Trump — to such things as allegations of a candidate sexually assaulting women.

Donald Trump at the 2016 Republican National Convention. (Photo credit: Grant Miller/RNC)

Donald Trump at the 2016 Republican National Convention. (Photo credit: Grant Miller/RNC)

Even more damaging in terms of the picture being projected overseas is what Trump has done to the part of that picture involving the essential standards and practices that make American democracy work and keep the country politically stable. What separates the United States in that respect from many supposed democracies that are far less stable are peaceful transitions of power and respect for the will of the people as expressed in elections.

This means that losers gracefully accept election outcomes, and that winners let losers walk away with freedom to campaign again another day. That’s much different from countries where losers launch insurgencies or winners throw their opponents in jail.

Trump has attacked both of those American standards of behavior. On the first, he has incessantly told his followers that if he loses it will be because of a rigged election, and the biggest headline coming from Wednesday night’s debate was his refusal to commit to accepting the election result.

On the second, he has led rallies at which the chants about Hillary Clinton have been “lock her up,” and in a previous debate he threatened to do exactly that if he wins. Then Wednesday night, for good measure, he said that Clinton should not have been allowed to run for president in the first place.

The projection of this picture overseas sours millions on America and the American political system, and the United States loses some of its soft power as a result. Many get soured on democracy in general. And governments that have good reason to be defensive about their own political processes gleefully exploit the picture to divert attention from their own deficiencies and to accuse the United States of double standards.

Iran’s Interest

Iran-watcher Robin Wright notes that “Iran’s media has generally been obsessed” with the U.S. election even more than with Iran’s own presidential election due next spring. Supreme leader Ali Khamenei has tweeted, “US presidential race & issues two candidates raised is a typical result of lack of spirituality & faith among those in power.”

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, speaking before the United Nations General Assembly.

Iran’s (now former) President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, speaking before the United Nations General Assembly.

Wright reports that “Trump’s allegations that the U.S. election is rigged have particularly resonated across Iranian media,” partly in revenge for foreign allegations of election fraud when Mahmoud Admadinejad won the Iranian presidency in 2009.

And the hardline clerics on the Guardian Council, who have routinely disqualified presidential and parliamentary candidates whose politics they don’t happen to like, undoubtedly were smiling Wednesday night when Trump said Clinton should not have been allowed to run.

Another blow to well-formed foreign policy and a public that is well-informed about it has been the torrent of falsehoods, overwhelmingly from Trump, that has encouraged not just ignorance but firmly embedded misbeliefs about important foreign policy issues. In Wednesday night’s debate, for example, Trump repeated a previous blurt about how the nuclear agreement with Iran, which closed previously open pathways to a nuclear weapon and subjects Iran to the most severe restrictions and monitoring of a nuclear program that any country has ever accepted, supposedly would guarantee that Iran would get the bomb.

Amid the umpteenth claim by Trump about opposing the Iraq War and all the other charges being hurled across the stage, Clinton never got back to commenting on that subject herself. And so not just a mistaken, but a completely upside-down, notion of what the agreement with Iran is all about has been further cemented in the minds of many Americans and especially Trump’s followers.

Little Attention

Such problems are related to the overall low amount of time and attention devoted to foreign policy in this campaign, except insofar as it involves immigration, trade or terrorism. In some previous elections, an entire presidential candidates’ debate was devoted to foreign and security policy.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

This year the pattern was exemplified by Wednesday night’s debate, in which just one of six issue areas identified by moderator Chris Wallace was “global hot spots,” which translated more narrowly into a question about Aleppo and U.S. troops in Iraq.

Even the Iraq-Syria theater got nowhere the attention it needs. When Clinton talked about her backing for a no-fly zone in Syria, Wallace appropriately challenged her to justify that position given that the incumbent president and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have resisted creating such a zone, but Clinton deflected the challenge with a non-answer. And so an important question, one that will face the new president early and on which there are legitimate arguments on each side, was left unexamined.

The damage to U.S. foreign relations, foreign policy and public understanding of foreign policy that has already been done in this campaign will persist past the campaign’s end. Still more damage probably is yet to come. How a losing Donald Trump reacts on Election Night will partly determine that, but there are additional ways in which venomous domestic politics have repercussions beyond U.S. borders.

If Hillary Clinton is victorious next month, she will be the first non-incumbent Democrat to win an election to succeed another Democrat since James Buchanan won in 1856. Buchanan also was the last previous president to have been secretary of state.

But however well that experience may have equipped him to formulate and conduct foreign policy, domestic divisions overwhelmed everything else during his single term of office. The slavery issue, with war drums of the coming Civil War already being heard, sapped energy from other initiatives. Buchanan’s foreign policy, which was centered mainly on Latin America, was as undistinguished as the rest of his presidency.

Even if a reprise of the Civil War is unlikely, poisonous and divisive domestic politics are likely to be at least as big a challenge to a President Hillary Clinton in trying to sustain a coherent and effective foreign policy as will be any threats overseas.

Paul R. Pillar, in his 28 years at the Central Intelligence Agency, rose to be one of the agency’s top analysts. He is author most recently of Why America Misunderstands the World. (This article first appeared as a blog post at The National Interest’s Web site. Reprinted with author’s permission.) 

41 comments for “Embarrassing America Before the World

  1. Bob
    October 23, 2016 at 10:45

    Poor America! We’re getting embarrassed? Boo Hoo. We’ve killed millions of people since the fake 911 attacks. We’ve funneled trillions of newly created money into the hands of corrupt oligarchs. We threaten to start WW3. And some are worried about how Trump abuses our delicate little sensibilities. We should’t be embarrassed. We should think about how deep the hatred is for us around the world. Our behavior makes people hate us. I guess we forget chickens come home to roost.

  2. October 23, 2016 at 09:42

    It’s so rich to hear a CIA spook, whining about foreign policy. When one considers the CIA was responsible for the destabilization of many governments over the past decades. I would say, the lack of respect in our foreign policy has more to do with our interventionism around the world, led by the CIA. As far as the Middle East goes, it’s all about money and drugs. Especially Afghanistan’s drug trade. A lot of that drug trade money Finds Its way into CIA pockets. As for the voting machines, they are rigged when you have fractional machines counting votes. Why do you need fractions? One vote one person not .25. , .75. The only reason for a fractional vote, is to rig the system. Continuing along that line of thought, if you have nothing to count because, there’s no paper trail from these electronic machines, then they’re rigged.

  3. christine short
    October 23, 2016 at 08:33

    what a biased article this one is. trump, trump trump. what is truly EMBARRASSING is the fact that a lying criminal fraud is permitted to walk free and campaign for the highest office in the country. now THAT MR. PILLAR IS EMBARRASSING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. October 23, 2016 at 00:32

    F. this propaganda B.S. Hillary is a criminal psychopath who coerced the Justice Department to give her a pass. The Clintons and Bushes are all mass murdering psychopaths. Donald Trump has never murdered anybody. Trump is calling for justice, if the rest of the world doesn’t understand then who cares. Hillary is the enemy of America and the author of this article is working for the elite. Only a fool would trust anything proclaimed by someone who worked for the C.I.A.

    • christine short
      October 23, 2016 at 08:35


  5. Zachary Smith
    October 22, 2016 at 22:30

    I know I repeat myself, but an issue about which foreigners must be scratching their heads is the the way US elections are conducted. Especially the recent trends. Paul Craig Roberts makes some good points in a very brief rant from which I’m selecting some excerpts.

    It is an obvious fact that the oligarchic One Percent have anointed Hillary, despite her myriad problems to be President of the US.

    So what’s the big deal about Trump’s suspicion of election rigging?

    The black civil rights movement has fought vote rigging for decades. The rigging takes place in a number of ways. Blacks simply can’t get registered to vote. If they do get registered, there are few polling places in their districts. And so on. After decades of struggle it is impossible that there are any blacks who are not aware of how hard it can be for them to vote. Yet, I heard on the presstitute radio network, NPR, Hillary’s Uncle Toms saying how awful it was that Trump had cast aspersion on the credibility of American election results.

    The presstitutes have gone all out to demonize both Trump and any mention of election rigging, because they know for a fact that the election will be stolen and that they will have the job of covering up the theft.

    Don’t vote early. The purpose of early voting is to show the One Percent how the vote is shaping up. From this information, the oligarchs learn how to program the electronic machines in order to elect the candidate that they want..

    The last point is a good one. Though the results of early voting won’t be announced, it does give a big hint to the hackers of the E-Voting Machines what they must do. And time to consider the best way of hiding their work.

    I continue to maintain this one is over. Even if Trump made a comeback in the “real world”, the current polls and the tidal wave of news stories and editorials declaring Hillary the Winner-To-Be guarantee that any “fixing” will be accepted.


    A society which hands the mechanics of a National Election to freaking computers is merely a “pretend” democracy.

  6. MickMcc
    October 22, 2016 at 20:34

    google Clinton Curtis.
    Imagine a world where G W Bush was just another failed business man. A world free of 911 because without G W Bush being ‘selected’ it could never have happened.
    google ‘we came, we saw, he died’ what an ugly woman that one is, no wonder slick willy ate out all the time.

  7. J'hon Doe II
    October 22, 2016 at 12:30

    America at War with Itself

    Henry A. Giroux

    “The current U.S. descent into authoritarianism did not just happen. As Henry Giroux brilliantly shows it was the result of public pedagogical work in a number of institutions that were part of a long-standing assault on public goods, the social contract, and democracy itself. Giroux powerfully skewers oppressive forces with the hallmark clarity and rigor that has made him one of the most important cultural critics and public intellectuals in North America. His sharp insights provide readers with the intellectual tools to challenge the tangle of fundamentalisms that characterize the political system, economy, and culture in the current conjuncture. America at War with Itself makes the case for real ideological and structural change at a time when the need and stakes could not be greater. Everyone who cares about the survival and revival of democracy needs to read this book.”––Kenneth Saltman, Professor, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, Author of The Failure of Corporate School Reform

    “In book after book, decade after decade, Henry Giroux has joined Noam Chomsky among our most prolific, clear-sighted public intellectuals. His latest, America at War with Itself, begins with Donald Trump’s rise in the 2016 election as symptomatic of the anti-democratic forces Giroux has anatomized in American society, including the sway of authoritarianism, violence, militarism, and ‘the terror of neoliberalism.’ This book provides bracing revelations of the evasion of cogent causal analysis in our mainstream public discourse. For example, ‘The call for gun rights conveniently side steps and ignores criticizing a popular culture and corporate controlled media which uses violence to attract viewers, increase television ratings, produce Hollywood blockbusters, and sell video games that celebrate first person shooters. . . . Such violence serves not only to produce an insensitivity to real life violence but also functions to normalize violence as both a source of pleasure and as a practice for addressing social issues.'”––Donald Lazare, author of Thinking Critically About Media and Politics and Why Higher Education SHOULD Have a Leftist Bias.

    Publisher City Lights Publishers


  8. Vollin
    October 22, 2016 at 09:46

    If/when more Americans realize that war spending is a key force behind huge deficits and resultant pressures to keep interest rates on savings near zero, they may finally turn against a war mongering foreign policy elite

  9. Lisa
    October 22, 2016 at 07:38

    A note on the Iran issue:
    A lobbying group called UANI (United Against Nuclear Iran) has during the last months surprised some major Swedish firms and banks putting pressure on them not to have any trade with Iran, in the areas not covered by sanctions.

    UANI has among its main financiers Mr Sheldon Adelson (also financier of the Rep.party) and Mr Thomas Kaplan. Kaplan has close ties with the CEO of UANI, Mr Mark Wallace. Kaplan and Wallace have documented interests in international silver trade, and will earn big money privately, if sanctions against Iran (rich in minerals) prevail. The sanctions guarantee a higher price for silver when Iran’s mineral export is restricted.

    This lobbying activity certainly happens in other countries as well. I happen to follow some Swedish media, where this was reported.

    Politics? No, follow the money!

  10. October 22, 2016 at 07:21

    One thing is for certain: our so-called leaders know very little about service to others. https://waitforthedownfall.wordpress.com/to-serve-man/

  11. Peter Loeb
    October 22, 2016 at 07:02


    My Dad, a successful (in failing political campaigns) politico and
    twice US Ambassador used to say, ” Foreign policy never was
    a major issue in political; campaigns.” (Of course, he was dead
    wrong when countries are at war.).

    The effects are major as concerns the foreign policies themselves
    and that is what readers of Consortium follow so closely.

    It remains that for most voters, whether the US goes for “regime change”
    in Syria is of minor importance. Until dead American bodies come home.
    (No one cares, it seems, for other bodies.)

    And in contradiction to the ultra-American claim after election day, the winning
    candidate does not express the will of the American People. Of all of them?
    The majority do not vote and if 100% voted there would probably be even
    less concern about “regime change” in Syria. Or decimation and other crimes
    by our good friends the Israeli government.

    Americans are more concerned with their homes, their cars, their TV’s, their
    jobs and their steady disappearance and so forth.

    One would have hoped that Paul Pillar’s service as a “top analyst” would have
    realized this by now. For background see Alistair Crooke’s recent Consortium
    article on the end of economic growth worldwide.

    —Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

  12. backwardsevolution
    October 22, 2016 at 05:13

    Good article by David Swanson who says it’s all rigged: the Republican presidential primary, the Democratic presidential primary, FBI’s investigation of Hillary’s emails, shapes of districts, voter registration…..


    He gives advice on how to fix it.

  13. backwardsevolution
    October 22, 2016 at 03:59

    Remember that Bob Creamer who just resigned from Democracy Partners (as revealed in the undercover Project Veritas video)?


    “But voter fraud isn’t Creamer’s only criminal specialty. A quick look at Wikipedia reveals that Creamer spent 5 months in federal prison back in 2006 for a “$2.3 million bank fraud in relation to his operation of public interest groups in the 1990s.”

    So, with that kind of history, you can imagine our surprise when we discovered that a Mr. Robert Creamer showed up on the White House visitor logs 340 times beginning in 2009 when Obama took office and culminating with his latest visit in June 2016. Moreover, in 45 of those instances, Creamer was scheduled to meet with POTUS himself. Perhaps this is just two old Chicago “community organizers” hanging out?”


    This shyster is meeting with Obama himself? And he has visited the White House 340 times? Oh, yeah, nothing is up with that!

  14. backwardsevolution
    October 22, 2016 at 01:54

    “It’s hard to believe that the mainstream media are so obtuse or stupid to ignore the obviousness of the problem of an electronic voting system. That suggests that their indignance, their outrage is a drama aimed at embarrassing, intimidating and making people who are inclined to believe Trump feel foolish.

    This media offensive aimed at challenging the idea that the election is rigged goes hand in hand with the massive campaign Clinton and Obama are orchestrating, selling Wikileaks as a propaganda agent being used by the Russians. […]

    The list is long and deep. This message, that the election system is trustworthy, is a core part of keeping the crooked corporate system up and running. If millions of people start questioning our election process, if they question Hillary’s win, who knows where it will go? One thing I am sure of. We need more people waking up to the reality that the system IS broken, that the system has been rigged for a long time, that big corporations and the plutocrats have been at war with the middle class. Bill Moyers said it 13 years ago. It’s even worse now, and a big part of the reason it’s worse is because most Americans, especially liberals, the ones who supported Hillary in the primary, have not awakened to the reality.

    It’s freaking the powers that be out that a presidential candidate is speaking the truth about the system.

    I can’t bring myself to vote for Clinton or Trump, but at least Trump is bringing some truth to the process. It’s no surprise that the powers that be are trying to make Trump look crazy.”


  15. delia ruhe
    October 22, 2016 at 01:25

    Yes, I agree that Trump is doing nothing to polish the image of the US abroad, but let us never forget that the tarnish on the image is George W. Bush, who is in the tradition of Republicans who impeached a president for his sins instead of his crimes. The world has had an ample supply of events to either exploit or have a good laugh at.

  16. Zachary Smith
    October 21, 2016 at 23:08

    On the second, he has led rallies at which the chants about Hillary Clinton have been “lock her up,” and in a previous debate he threatened to do exactly that if he wins. Then Wednesday night, for good measure, he said that Clinton should not have been allowed to run for president in the first place.

    I’d invite Mr. Pillar to read the transcript instead of relying on 2nd hand reports.


    Unless I’m badly mistaken about this issue, Trump declared he would engage a Special Prosecutor to investigate the Hillary email scandal. The remark “Because you’d be in jail” reflected his (Trump’s) assumption that when the Special Prosecutor started digging he/she would find actual crimes requiring jail time. BTW, that’s an assumption I share.

    As for graciously turning over the reins of power, that tradition has not always been observed. In 2000 the Republicans lost the election in Florida, went to the Supreme Court, and saw the loser put into the White House. Nixon howled about the 1960 election. In 1876 the Presidency was traded like a cheap commodity in order to free the South to win the Civil War in a slightly different way. The Southern American Negro was re-enslaved in most every way that mattered. The same Slave South used the occasion of the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860 to try to smash the US to pieces. Not exactly gracious losers.

    Finally, I believe it’s safe to say that the growing dislike of the US throughout the world was well along before 95% of humanity had ever heard of Donald Trump.

  17. James lake
    October 21, 2016 at 23:06

    Talk about missing the point!!!

    What has come across in these elections is the way in which the democrats have blamed Russia for their corruption and that they are prepared to risk war to ensure hillary wins.

    “Total mentions all 4 debates:

    Russia/Putin 178
    ISIS/terror 132
    Iran 67

    Abortion 17
    Poverty 10
    Climate change 4
    Campaign finance 3
    Privacy 0”

    Analysis from Moon of Alabama.

    Vote hillary get world war three

  18. backwardsevolution
    October 21, 2016 at 22:26

    “..,and Donald Trump often incoherent [on foreign policy].” Synonyms for “incoherent” are: unclear, confused, unintelligible, incomprehensible, hard to follow, disjointed, disconnected, disordered, mixed up, garbled, jumbled, scrambled, muddled. Isn’t U.S. foreign policy all of the above? Isn’t it hard to follow, incomprehensible? No wonder the man can’t wrap his head around it. It’s insane.

    “Embarrassing America Before the World”. Good. Trump is exposing lies, inconsistencies, wrongheadedness, psychopathic behavior. If this causes America to be embarrassed, too bad. The whole world is saying, “It’s about time!”

    “What separates the United States in that respect from many supposed democracies that are far less stable are peaceful transitions of power and respect for the will of the people as expressed in elections.” What “used” to separate the United States from other countries was THE RULE OF LAW. Now that the citizens are seeing that there is a rule of law for the wealthy, but another for ordinary citizens, they are waking up. Wikileaks exposed the Bernie Sanders mess, Project Veritas has exposed the purposeful violence at the Trump rallies, they saw Comey choke and let the criminal go, and on and on. Trump and others are pulling back the curtain. If that’s painful, too bad. It was about time!

    “The projection of this picture overseas sours millions on America and the American political system, and the United States loses some of its soft power as a result.” Soft power? Ask Gaddafi about that soft power, ask Ukraine, Syria….. The mask is being ripped off the United States of America and it’s being revealed in all its ugliness. What’s behind the mask is the truth: that the American people are good people, but the leaders are psychopathic criminals.

    Eventually truth surfaces, and it isn’t pretty when it does. But the noble thing to do is to let it come out, don’t try and hide it. A good country, as with a good person, never hides behind secrets or lies.

  19. John
    October 21, 2016 at 20:17

    Storm the castle !!! in 4, 3, 2,…..Okay…okay…. wait, …….. American citizen are cowards so what’s plan B…..right….. OK….. complacency….lol….is the swine fat enough for slaughter ?

  20. Annie
    October 21, 2016 at 19:18

    Anyone who has paid any attention to mainstream media knows the election is rigged in Clinton’s favor, and Mr. Pillar’s article helps to substantiate that claim. While he references Trumps cries that the election is rigged he fails to acknowledge Clinton’s non stop claim, not based on substantiated evidence, that the Russians are rigging the election in the Donald’s favor. As an American I know we have a corporately controlled government who serves the needs of a few, and therefore I’m not concerned about what people abroad think of us, since I’m much more concerned that as an American I no longer live in a country that can be defined as a democracy.

    • Lisa
      October 22, 2016 at 07:57

      “…he fails to acknowledge Clinton’s non stop claim, not based on substantiated evidence, that the Russians are rigging the election in the Donald’s favor.”

      It might be enlightening to listen to Putin about this claim. He answers a reporter’s question about Biden’s threat, mentions that blaming Russia is a regular phenomenon during all US elections, nothing new. What happens after the election, nobody knows. Clinton might soften her attitude towards Russia, Trump might forget his intentions for closer cooperation.
      Putin appears as a very pragmatic politician.

      (translation provided)
      Putin warns Americans: You’re being distracted!

    • exiled off mainstreet
      October 23, 2016 at 12:09

      I fully concur with this view and think that those who should be embarrassed are those transparently shilling for the corrupt dangerous regime, in this instance long-time operative Mr. Pillar providing unnecessary propaganda cover to a regime already supported by a ministry of propaganda like media consortium.

  21. Paul
    October 21, 2016 at 18:43

    The elected official is subordinate to the deep state/unelected appointees/employees of the Federal Government and its various arms such as the criminal entities: Federal Reserve, CIA, NSA, FBI and others we know nothing about.

    • JWalters
      October 21, 2016 at 19:01

      Here’s an excellent, first-hand account of how the international bankers behind the “deep state” use money, blackmail, and death threats to control heads of state and other prominent political figures.

      • Rikhard Ravindra Tanskanen
        October 23, 2016 at 19:05

        “International bankers?” Don’t be anti-Semitic, retard.

  22. Bill Bodden
    October 21, 2016 at 18:06

    It Isn’t Just Donald Trump. The Bush Campaign Plotted to Reject Election Results in 2000


  23. Andoheb
    October 21, 2016 at 15:59

    Back in 1960 many people believed that JFK stole the close election against Richard Nixon with mafia help. This may or may not be true but is quite plausible. When Trump says he might not accept election result, I suspect he is thinking about a repeat in a close race.

    • rosemerry
      October 21, 2016 at 17:21

      Another thing I remember from those “olden days” before Boehner, Biden, SCOTUS members Roberts,Scalia et al,Catholics all, was a joke “Worship at a church of your choice-while there’s still time”. Enemies change, sometimes.

  24. Cal
    October 21, 2016 at 15:41

    I think we could consider the election ‘rigged’ if you consider that;… all of the ‘DC establishment’, the entire main stream media, the ‘ shadow elites, 99% of Wall Street criminals, the foreign Fifth Column Neo Zios and the ideology and agenda laden ‘think tank fellows’ have all promoted and financed Hillary and worked over time to cover for her.

    I’d call that rigging an election by propagandizing and misleading the voting public.

  25. Bill Bodden
    October 21, 2016 at 15:39

    Most of the other nations in the world are satraps of the U.S. to one degree or another. The Brits and the French under Thatcher, Blair and Cameron, and Sarkozy and Hollande, respectively, are nothing to be proud of so we don’t need to feel inferior in their presence. Trump and Boris Johnson, the Brits foreign secretary, are kindred spirits. The one relationship that is humiliating for the United States is that with Israel whose right-wing leaders have treated most presidents, a few vice presidents and all Congress with well deserved contempt. I wonder how many presidents, senators and representatives feel embarrassed when they accept their legal bribes from the Israel Lobby. Probably very few.

    • Hillary
      October 22, 2016 at 03:53

      “Trump and Boris Johnson, the Brits foreign secretary, are kindred spirits”.
      I beg to disagree ……Boris Johnson, the Brits foreign secretary, seems to have joined the neocon group after his recent “meeting with Hillary”
      But the comments here are brilliant …..

      • Bill Bodden
        October 22, 2016 at 12:20

        I had in mind Johnson’s and Trump’s capacities for being buffoons.

        Boris Johnson, the Brits foreign secretary, seems to have joined the neocon group after his recent “meeting with Hillary”

        Johnson also has the ability to change with the wind.

    • JD
      October 31, 2016 at 13:17

      You’ve gone off-topic to try a little EU bashing. Nice. It does seem to be a current US characteristic to deflect attention from current embarrassments by pointing the finger elsewhere. Obama’s an adept at this – sad to see his behaviours have been taken up by the weak-minded. Similarly, this messy presidential campaign will doubtless leave its mark in similar anti-social behaviour. America, you are such a mess. Sort your own issues out rather than childish and distracting finger pointing. Yes, Johnson is a terrible mistake that should never have been given any power, but he’s not the subject is he.

  26. rosemerry
    October 21, 2016 at 15:14

    1. “What separates the United States in that respect from many supposed democracies that are far less stable are peaceful transitions of power and respect for the will of the people as expressed in elections.” Well, if you found the Repugs gracious in their complete destruction of any pathetic small good Obama tried to do in 8 years, I’d be surprised.

    2. I agree with WG above; Russia has already vetoed the “no-fly zone” in the UNSC, for a start.

    3. The foreign policies of successive US governments, overthrowing and meddling in so many fairly elected governments, may be a replacement for ungraciously removing their own, but how different are the policies of the two wings of the capitalist war party?

    4. ” President Hillary Clinton in trying to sustain a coherent and effective foreign policy ” LOL

  27. WG
    October 21, 2016 at 13:30

    I’d like to hear the ‘legitimate arguments’ in favour of imposing a no fly zone. I sure can’t think of any…

    • exiled off mainstreet
      October 22, 2016 at 21:04

      I agree with the tenor of this reply to this misconceived commentary. I would rather be “embarrassed” by a candidate who made varying statements, but whose main thrust was that we should avoid conflict with Russia than lend support to a proven war criminal who advocates another war crime, the no fly zone, which is likely to result in hot war with a nuclear-armed power. That should be more than embarrassing to any person of good will. Clinton and the yankee power structure are acting just like previous tyrants, even the fuehrer himself, who got away with attacking weaker nations and then built up the hubris to attack seriously powerful ones, eventually making the career ending mistake of attacking Russia. Unfortunately, Clinton, Pillar and other yankee regime stalwarts seem to have forgotten the “MAD” (mutually assured destruction) doctrine which enabled us to survive the cold war. That was that conflict was to be avoided if the danger of nuclear extinction existed.

      The failure to recognize the implication this salient fact renders any comment such as Pillar’s dangerous and stupid.

    • Bob valdez
      October 24, 2016 at 05:31

      Exactly right.

  28. Tom Welsh
    October 21, 2016 at 12:53

    Much as I respect and value Mr Pillar’s special perspective on politics, I cannot help finding it richly ironic that an ex-employee of the CIA should be telling us about political stability and democratic legitimacy.

    • NobodysaysBOO
      October 23, 2016 at 10:10

      I agree, the DIPLOMACY of the USA is a disgrace , It began to get stinky way back , like when April Glasby of the US state department told Saddam that” the USA had no issue with him taking Kuwait” ,then kill him when he did. That was OLD bush, then he took the cash that the King of Saudi offered to the troops pn their behalf then he STOLD the money!

      H.from hell pushed us to a new LOW in diplomatic protocol and NEVER crafted a PEACE TREATY!

      This guy is just trolling for H from hell , like she said about legal pot “there is just to much money in it to make it legal” I’m certain he got some of H.from hell bennies or maybe some CASH?


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