The deserts of the Middle East and North Africa have become a kind of quicksand for U.S. policymakers, the more they thrash around violently the faster they sink, with the latest round of warfare against the Islamic State worsening matters, not improving them, as Phyllis Bennis told Dennis J. Bernstein.
American neocons are furious that President Obama reportedly sent a letter to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei apparently urging concessions on nuclear talks and referencing joint interests in combating Islamic State radicals, but the letter may reflect smart diplomacy, says ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.
President Obama’s policy toward Syria is getting pulled in so many directions that it lacks any coherence, especially since the U.S.-backed Syrian “moderate” rebels are in a tacit alliance with al-Qaeda’s offshoots that are the target of the U.S. airstrikes, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar describes.
Terror tactics have always been partly theater designed to elicit public reaction, whether to draw attention to a grievance or to draw the U.S. military into a conflict. Yet, American pols and pundits seem to have forgotten this reality and thus continue to get manipulated, writes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.
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.
For several years, Official Washington blinded itself to the growing radicalism of the Syrian opposition, all the better to portray the Assad regime as the “bad guys” and the rebels as the “good guys.” Now, everyone is pointing fingers about the ISIS “surprise,” as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar explains.
President Obama famously counseled his foreign policy team “don’t do stupid stuff,” but he is now violating his own principle by plunging into an incoherent war policy in Iraq and Syria rather than challenging the stupid “group think” of Official Washington, as Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett explain.