Tag Archive for Paul R. Pillar


Time to Rethink US Mideast Policies

President Obama speaks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outside the White House on May 20, 2011 (White House photo by Pete Souza)

U.S. policy toward the Middle East carries an extraordinary burden of strategically outdated and politically overweight baggage, from oil deals with Saudi Arabia to emotional ties to Israel. What’s needed now is a thorough reexamination of what’s in the U.S. national interest, says ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

How Israel’s Gaza Blockade Backfires

An Israeli strike caused a huge explosion in a residential area in Gaza during the Israeli assault on Gaza in 2008-2009. (Photo credit: Al Jazeera)

Israel’s crushing blockade – and periodic assaults – against the 1.8 million people jammed into Gaza have led to the emergence of an Islamic State affiliate that is now challenging Hamas, an example of how extreme repression breeds ever greater extremism, writes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

Game of Chicken with Iran

Secretary of State John Kerry (third from right) with other diplomats who negotiated an interim agreement with Iran on its nuclear program. (Photo credit: State Department)

In lock-step with Israeli hardliners, U.S. neocons continue their campaign to block a nuclear deal with Iran even if the tight restrictions would serve broad American interests and avert another Mideast war. That has left Secretary of State Kerry in a dangerous game of chicken, writes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

Selective Outrage on ‘Terrorism’

Rep. Peter King, R-New York

America’s view of “terrorism” is distorted by politics and bias, with intense hostility toward the Islamic variety but with much more tolerance of other forms, such as Cuban “anti-communist” violence and right-wing extremist murders, as underscored by a new study examined by ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

America’s ‘Exceptional’ Negotiations

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry takes a walk in a park between meetings in Geneva, Switzerland, on Nov. 8, 2013, that focused on limits on Iran's nuclear capabilities. (State Department photo)

America has a strange idea about international negotiations: It makes demands and the other side must capitulate or face crushing penalties if not violent “regime change.” This strange attitude is threatening the Iran-nuclear talks and endangering real U.S. national interests, writes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

The Pope’s Global Warming Warning

Pope Francis. (Photo from Casa Rosada)

Jeb Bush and Rick Santorum are among the Catholic Republicans who have cited Church teachings on abortion as guiding their political positions, but now are objecting to Pope Francis issuing an encyclical on the dangers of global warming, notes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

Stumbling into a New Cold War

President Barack Obama delivers a statement on the situation in Ukraine, on the South Lawn of the White House, July 29, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

U.S. expansion of NATO up to Russia’s borders and last year’s U.S.-backed coup in Ukraine have drawn reactions from Moscow and now counter-reactions from Washington, including a plan to preposition U.S. military hardware in the Baltic States. But is that the best option, asks ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

A Rare Defeat for the Israel Lobby

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

In a rare rebuke to the powerful Israel Lobby, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a congressional encroachment on presidential powers regarding the official status of Jerusalem. Even some right-wing justices turned on each other, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar explains.

Israel and the Water Card

A section of the barrier -- erected by Israeli officials to prevent the passage of Palestinians -- with graffiti using President John F. Kennedy's famous quote when facing the Berlin Wall, "Ich bin ein Berliner." (Photo credit: Marc Venezia)

The New York Times hailed Israel’s ingenuity in addressing its water needs, but played down how Israel exploits its military domination to divert water away from Palestinians and to Israelis, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar explains.

Is War on ISIS America’s Fight?

President Barack Obama in his weekly address on Sept. 13, 2014, vowing to degrade and ultimately defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. (White House Photo)

The Sunni resistance to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 led to what is now ISIS or the Islamic State, and many U.S. hawks now want President Obama to “surge” troops back into Iraq to fight this brutal force. But what is the right calibration for U.S. involvement, asks ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.