Seeking consistent standards for using lethal drones, the Obama administration is drafting a manual to govern when such attacks can be unleashed. But the secret guidelines carry other risks, including the acceptance of assassination as a routine part of U.S. foreign policy, says ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.
The Obama administration is pushing back against pressure to jump into a new “counterterrorism” conflict in northern Africa, with some officials saying an overreaction to unrest in Mali and Algeria could make matters worse. There’s also the danger of over-interpreting isolated events, writes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.
Partly as a spillover from the U.S.-backed ouster of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, armed Islamists have asserted control of sparsely populated northern Mali, causing France to dispatch soldiers to the region. But does this new conflict affect U.S. interests, asks ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.
As America prepares for the Second Inaugural of its first African-American president – and as demands grow for some commonsense gun control after a horrific school massacre – the Right is arming itself amid hysterical rhetoric about the need to “shoot tyrants,” ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar notes.
“Tough-guy-ism” toward Iran holds that only a “credible threat of war” will force Tehran to capitulate to Western demands on its nuclear program. But the real hold-up to a peaceful settlement may be Iran’s fear of “regime change” aggression if it makes too many one-sided concessions, ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar says.
Washington’s neocons came out with all their rhetorical guns blazing against Chuck Hagel as a prospective Defense Secretary, with Elliott Abrams even smearing the Nebraska Republican as “an anti-Semite.” But the old bullying for once has met some principled resistance, ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar notes.
Israel keeps turning to “fences” to protect its territory even if these walls cut through lands conquered by force and are not internationally recognized as belonging to Israel, as is the case with new plans for the occupied Golan Heights, notes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.
A resolution to the Iranian nuclear dispute is within reach, with Iran ready to accept limits on its program and many in the West willing to ease sanctions. But the real question remains whether chest-thumping politicians and pundits will let a deal go through, writes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.
When U.S. and Israeli officials look glumly at international polls showing their declining popularity, they often think that just some better salesmanship will do the trick. But the real problem isn’t the pitch; it’s the product, in this case policies that offend much of the world, says ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.
With a late-night vote, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a partial plan – negotiated by the Senate and the White House – to avert the “fiscal cliff,” but most House Republicans voted no, with Tea Partiers continuing to flaunt their nihilistic extremism, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar notes.