Tag: Paul R. Pillar


The Need for a Syrian Deal

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

In the wake of the Paris terror attacks and other mass killings in Beirut and aboard a Russian airliner there are new demands for military action. But the one step that might help matters is a more pragmatic approach to resolving the…

Gulf States Slip Out of War on ISIS

Journalist James Foley shortly before he was executed by an Islamic State operative.

Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states went through the motions of joining the U.S.-led fight against the Islamic State and other Sunni terrorists, who received substantial help from the same Gulf states, but those U.S. “allies” have now slipped out of the conflict almost entirely, says…

On Bended Knee to Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Despite Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s in-your-face attempts to sabotage President Obama’s foreign policy, Official Washington’s liberal establishment is on bended knee in an obsequious show of obeisance, apparently in line with Hillary Clinton’s political wishes, writes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

Government-Haters for President

Billionaire and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Republican presidential front-runners include three candidates with no government experience (Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina) and one senator who wants out of his job (Marco Rubio), an odd cast seeking one of the most challenging and dangerous (for…

Netanyahu’s Offensive Fake History

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu garbled up some inflammatory history to suggest that a Palestinian mufti was responsible for the Holocaust, but the underlying message was even more troubling, a suggestion that Palestinians as a group share the guilt, as ex-CIA…

Presidential Success or Failure

President Barack Obama and his national security team monitor the Special Operations raid into Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden. (White House photo by Pete Souza)

There are two kinds of presidential foreign policy decisions, one operational like the raid to kill Osama bin Laden, which can go right or wrong almost by chance, and the other strategic like the invasion of Iraq that can be…

The More Complex Truth of Benghazi

President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton honor the four victims of the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, at the Transfer of Remains Ceremony held at Andrews Air Force Base, Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, on Sept. 14, 2012. [State Department photo)

From the Archive: More than three years after the Benghazi attack, which claimed the lives of four Americans, Republicans again are grilling former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the hyper-politicized inquiry that has obscured the more complex reality of…

Obama Bends to ‘Endless’ Afghan War

U.S. troops in Afghanistan man a checkpoint near Takhteh Pol in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, Feb. 26, 2013. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Shane Hamann)

By failing to challenge many of Official Washington’s “group thinks” on the war policy, President Obama has become captive to them as reflected in his decision to extend the U.S. military operation in Afghanistan despite little or no prospect of…

Syria and the ‘Vacuum’ Metaphor

Map of Syria, showing Golan Heights in the lower left corner.

Official Washington’s new “group think” is that President Obama’s hesitancy to fully invade Syria has created a “vacuum” that Russia is now filling, but the use of such metaphors can cloud serious analytical thinking and lead to catastrophic misjudgments, as…

The Afghan Lesson in Syria

In Afghanistan, U.S. Army Pfc. Sean Serritelli provides security outside Combat Outpost Charkh on Aug. 23, 2012. (Photo credit: Spc. Alexandra Campo)

Russian President Putin’s decision to escalate military support for the Syrian government brings to mind earlier interventions in Afghanistan that went badly but that cautionary history and the changed Syrian dynamic also raise the prospects for negotiations, says ex-CIA analyst…