Tag: Paul R. Pillar

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Citing ‘Terrorism’ to Justify Terror

President Barack Obama speaks by phone with his National Security Staff regarding the situation in Egypt, while in Chilmark, Massachusetts, Aug. 15, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

Despite U.S. and European appeals for restraint, the Egyptian military slaughtered supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi, an atrocity rationalized by claims of combating Islamic “terrorism.” But the bloody crackdown is likely to make terrorism a self-fulfilling prophecy, writes ex-CIA…

A Method to Egypt’s Madness

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

The bloody assault on Egyptians protesting the ouster of democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi has the look of madness as the military pushes Islamists toward more violence but there is a sick logic if the generals see more Islamic extremism…

How Congress Overlooked NSA Spying

Edward Snowden, who revealed himself as the leaker of top-secret documents related to the National Security Agency's electronic surveillance. (Photo credit: the UK Guardian)

Edward Snowden’s leaks about the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs might have been avoided if more members of Congress had done their duty to stay informed about these classified activities, rather than get distracted by the fluff of politics, says…

The ‘Do-Something’ Myth in Syria

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (Photo from official Website)

A common refrain in Official Washington is that President Obama should have intervened militarily in Syria’s civil war and that somehow that would have solved the problem. But there’s no reason to think that U.S. meddling would do much good,…

Scoring Points Over a Terror Threat

Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri.

Though it’s summer, Official Washington’s factionalism never takes a vacation. The neocons are in workaholic mode, claiming the precautionary closure of some U.S. embassies proves al-Qaeda remains a major threat, despite the fact that no terror attack has actually happened, as ex-CIA analyst Paul…

Iran’s Objection to Double Standards

Yukiya Amano, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency

Double standards abound in how the West treats Iran’s nuclear program, most notably the silence about Israel’s undeclared nuclear arsenal. Iran has not built a single bomb and accepts nuclear inspections, yet it is the one confronted with threats of…

Who’s to Blame for NSA Excesses?

Seal of the National Security Agency

After a terrorist attack like Benghazi or the Boston Marathon the press, pols and much of the public decry the failure to prevent the violence, but the mood shifts amid disclosures of intrusive means to counter threats. This ambivalence can…

Israel-Palestine, Hope Against Hope

Sen. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, nominee to be Secretary of State.

Getting Israelis and Palestinians to the negotiating table may be a diplomatic accomplishment but it can’t be an end in itself. And while no one has lost money betting against an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, there are some reasons that the…

Sending the Wrong Signals on Iran

Iran's President-elect Hassan Rouhani during a television appearance.

Tough-guy-ism is still a powerful ideology in the U.S. Congress, where House members just voted to ratchet up sanctions on Iran even as its new leadership is eager to reach an accommodation with the West on its nuclear program. This…

Brushing Aside the Rule of Law

Statues of Lady Justice can be found around the world, this one atop London’s Old Bailey courthouse.

President George W. Bush famously mocked questions about international law with fake horror and the response, “I better call my lawyer!” But the rule of law is under broader assault within the U.S. government, now centered on whether to call…