Tag: Paul R. Pillar

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Hectoring Obama Over Syria

President Barack Obama raises his glass in a toast with President François Hollande of France during the State Dinner at the White House, Feb. 11, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

The U.S. punditocracy is pushing President Obama to intervene in the Syrian civil war and judging his diplomatic efforts a “failure” because little progress has been made. But the underlying assumption that U.S. military action can fix everything is dangerous, says ex-CIA…

France Stresses Accord with Obama

French President Francois Hollande.

The U.S. and French presidents are making nice at the start of a state visit, but just weeks ago France was carrying water for the Saudis, trying to drown a nuclear deal with Iran and opening the flood gates for…

Iran Extends a Hand to Israel

Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.

Israel today condemns Iran’s Islamic state, but Israel was its secret partner in the 1980s, selling billions of dollars in weapons and quietly lobbying the U.S. government on Iran’s behalf. Now, Iran says a return to those warmer relations is possible, writes…

Should NATO Protect the Palestinians?

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas

Israeli hardliners have long rejected the idea of a foreign peacekeeping force on the West Bank because it might restrict Israel’s freedom to attack Palestinians. But such a proposal is now on the table and has put Prime Minister Netanyahu…

Is US Military Spinning Out of Control?

A U.S. Army soldier provides security at a school in Farah City, Afghanistan, on Aug. 1, 2012. (Photo credit: U.S. Navy Lt. Benjamin Addison)

The United States was built on the idea of civilian control of the military, but as the burden of fighting overseas wars is carried disproportionately by a sliver of the population that control seems to be slipping, as ex-CIA analyst…

Still Trying to Sink an Iran 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.

President Obama has vowed to veto a Senate bill pushed on behalf of the Israeli government that could sink negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program by weighing them down with even more sanctions, a move that could put the region on course for…

An Afghan War for Drones?

A Predator drone firing a missile.

Amid the Afghan government’s growing resistance to an extended U.S. military stay, the Obama administration is trying out a new rationale: the need for a launching pad for drones. But it may be a case of a weapons system causing…

Egypt’s Coup Enflames Extremism

Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri.

By ousting elected President Morsi and seeking to root out his Muslim Brotherhood supporters Egypt’s military has touched off a wave of violence that threatens to deepen tensions across the region, including in the Gaza Strip and Israel, writes ex-CIA…

The Why Behind Egypt’s Coup

Egyptian General Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi as shown on official Egyptian TV around the time of the coup.

Egypt’s military coup meshed with the geopolitical interests of Saudi Arabia and Israel, but the toppling of the country’s first democratically elected government was driven by other factors, including the history of a politically powerful military, as ex-CIA analyst Paul…

The Fragile Process for Engaging Iran

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.

The diplomatic fracas over inviting and disinviting Iran to the Syrian peace talks only makes sense if you factor in President Obama’s fragile consensus for engaging Iran over its nuclear program while influential neocons keep pressing for confrontation. That mix…