Tag Archive for Paul R. Pillar


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 success, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar explains.

Syria and the ‘Vacuum’ Metaphor


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 ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar explains.

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 Paul R. Pillar.

Obama Closes Opening to Iran

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani addressing the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 24, 2013. (UN Photo)

Despite prevailing on the Iran nuclear deal, President Obama isn’t following up that victory with a more realistic policy to incorporate Iran into resolving Mideast conflicts. Instead, Obama feels he must placate U.S. hardliners with more tough talk, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar describes.

Giving Saudis a Pass on Yemen War

King Salman greets the President and First Lady during a state visit to Saudi Arabia on Jan. 27, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

By supporting Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen, the U.S. is again finding itself on the same side with Al Qaeda in a Mideast conflict, a troubling pattern driven by a compulsion to excuse actions by U.S. “allies” no matter how outrageous, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar explains.

How the World Views US ‘Clown Show’

Ben Carson, a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination who opposed a Muslim being elected president.

Some Americans may be amused by the “clown show” that is modern U.S. politics, particularly the Republican presidential race. But the crude insults and gross bigotry are seen around the world, reducing the appeal of democracy and turning more people against the U.S., notes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

Blunting the Pope’s Environmentalism

Pope Francis

Pope Francis has challenged market economics to address the human cost of profit-making, especially global warming’s threat to the future of the planet. But opponents of government regulation are set to spin whatever criticism the Pope delivers during his U.S. trip, writes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

Russian Role Could Help in Syria

Russian President Vladimir Putin taking the presidential oath at his third inauguration ceremony  on May 7, 2012. (Russian government photo)

Despite the alarms in Official Washington about Russia’s increased military role in Syria, this expanded commitment breathes new hope into a possible political settlement of the conflict and could help reverse Islamic State gains, writes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

In Bed with the Reactionary Saudis

King Salman the President and First Lady to a reception room at Erga Palace during a state visit to Saudi Arabia on Jan. 27, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The U.S.-Saudi alliance is no longer just an anachronism. It has become a dangerous anachronism with the Saudis implicating the United States in their brutal sectarian conflicts, such as the wars in Yemen and Syria, and in their reactionary human rights policies, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar explains.

Phase Two of Iran-Deal Sabotage

Secretary of State John Kerry at a press conference on Aug. 6, 2015. (State Department photo)

Neocons and Republican opponents of the Iran nuclear agreement have so worked themselves into a frenzy that their efforts to sabotage the deal are likely to continue even if it survives Congress as new schemes are devised, writes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.