Americans are notoriously disinterested in history, preferring to focus on the present and often reacting to the latest crisis. But the past can teach important lessons including the need to understand an adversary’s perspective and to avoid unnecessary conflicts, as ex-U.S. diplomat William R. Polk explains.
Exclusive: On Oct. 30, ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern was arrested for trying to attend a public speech by retired Gen. David Petraeus. McGovern had hoped to ask Petraeus a critical question during Q-and-A but was instead trundled off to jail, another sign of a growing hostility toward dissent, McGovern says.
Official Washington’s “group think” is that President Obama is “weak” because he doesn’t rush into wars with the abandon that talk-show favorite John McCain would like. But Obama may actually be “weak” because he gets pushed into conflicts that ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar says only make matters worse.
Contradictions beset the U.S. war over Iraq and Syria. The principal target ISIS wouldn’t even exist but for the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, and al-Qaeda affiliates in Syria have benefited from defections of U.S.-backed “moderates.” But now warplanes and missiles are supposed to fix things, says ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.