Tag Archive for Paul R. Pillar

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Forgetting Lessons of Terrorism

President George W. Bush announcing the start of his invasion of Iraq on March 19, 2003.

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.

Rushing to War in the Wrong Places

President Barack Obama meets with his National Security Staff to discuss the situation in Syria, in the Situation Room of the White House, Aug. 30, 2013. From left at the table: National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice; Attorney General Eric Holder; Secretary of State John Kerry; and Vice President Joe Biden. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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.

Who’s to Blame for ISIS ‘Surprise’?

CIA seal in lobby of the spy agency's headquarters. (U.S. government photo)

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.

A Poison Pill for the Iran-Nuke Deal

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the United Nations in 2012, drawing his own "red line" on how far he will let Iran go in refining nuclear fuel.

Many in Congress continue to march in lockstep with the dictates of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu who wants endless hostility toward Iran even if that torpedoes a deal to constrain Iran’s nuclear program. That includes a pointless demand for a past confession, notes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

Hoping Bombs Will Solve Iraq/Syria Mess

The guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea launches a Tomahawk cruise missile as seen from the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush in the Persian Gulf, Sept. 23, 2014.  (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Eric Garst)

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.

Obama’s Risks of Escalation

President Barack Obama announces U.S.-led airstrikes against Islamic State and other targets in Syria in comments at the White House on Sept. 23, 2014. (Screenshot from White House.gov)

As President Obama launched the first waves of U.S. airstrikes against Islamic State and other targets in Syria, the risks of further military escalation or other expected developments abound, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar explains.

Neocons Grow Frantic over Iran Progress

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani celebrates the completion of an interim deal on Iran's nuclear program on Nov. 24, 2013, by kissing the head of the daughter of an assassinated Iranian nuclear engineer. (Iranian government photo)

With an agreement on constraining Iran’s nuclear program within reach, Official Washington’s neocons are getting apoplectic about the need to rev up new animosities toward Iran, an approach not helpful to real U.S. security needs, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar notes.

More Neocon Hypocrisy in the Mideast

Dennis Ross, who has served as a senior U.S. emissary in the Middle East.

America’s neocons are now advancing their “regime change” goals in the Mideast by tarring “enemies,” like Syria’s largely secular government, as “Islamist” while shielding “friends” like Saudi Arabia despite its intense religiosity, yet one more double standard, writes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

In Case You Missed…

Some our special stories in August focused on Israel’s war on Gaza, the biased U.S. reporting on the Ukraine crisis, and the 50th anniversary of the Gulf of Tonkin deception.

The Illusion of Syria’s ‘Moderate’ Rebels

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee.

In militarily going after ISIS, President Obama is again letting his foreign policy be shaped by the popular illusions of Official Washington, particularly the idea that aiding Syrian “moderates” is a viable part of the strategy, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar explains.